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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The Inspection Bureau was granted the favor of not paying cash immediately because the amount was huge, but used tickets, which had to be redeemed within six months, and sometimes by the Court itself, used as cash. Due to the great solidity of those commercial firms, whose capital, sometimes huge, was available, this process did not cause any damage, and the finances of this province are in flourishing conditions, as evidenced by other documents in the official tables of the province's revenue and expenditure in the year 1821. (Note II). The "surplus" of the balance sheet was always sent partly to Para, partly by exchange letter to Rio de Janeiro.

It would be hasty, however, to draw conclusions, to immediately consider the great income of this province as proof of its high industrial value. The list concerning the state of the industry, which was offered to me by one of the most illustrious state officials in Sao Luis (which assures its almost official accuracy), states that to date only the crudest industry has been exploited. (Note III).

With the favorable success of the harvests, the considerable number of slaves imported in Maranhao were almost exclusively employed in the planting of cotton and other useful crops. The number of blacks in the province now mounted to a low estimate of 80,000 and thereafter has become much larger than in the neighboring province of Para; The reason for this lack of slaves is, of course, attributed to the present lack of agriculture in this province of Brazil, so richly endowed. The first determinant of the large number of imports of black slaves, and thus the great progress of farming, must be traced back to the favors with which the Grao-Para and Maranhao Trading Company, founded in 1756, was exclusively privileged (1) which facilitated the purchase of this unfortunate breed of men.

The company initially provided planters with large funds, on condition that they would be returned after one or more years, and at the initiative of Governor Mr. Joaquim de Melo, these advances were recovered - made in cash, agricultural instruments or slaves. - Discounting them only from cotton crops, continuing to pay farmers cash for rice crops, thereby boosting the crop. The deal provided them with the strongest blacks, at a relatively low price of 100$000, which provided a major contribution to the province's present wealth. Before the treaty with England, they brought black slaves from Cacheu to Maranhao,

(I) The General Company of Grao-Para and Maranhao was created by law of June 7, 1755, the General Company of Pernambuco and Paraiba having been created four years later. (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. and Geogr. Bras.).

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