Lei Áurea aka Golden Act. Photo Credit: © Arquivo Nacional via Wikimedia Commons.

Brazil – Lei Áurea (“Golden Act”)

The Lei Áurea was preceded by the Rio Branco Law of September 28, 1871 (“the Law of Free Birth”), which freed all children born to enslaved parents, and by the Saraiva-Cotegipe Law (also known as “the Law of Sexagenarians”), of September 28, 1885, that freed enslaved people when they reached the age of 60.

The Lei Áurea had other consequences besides the freeing of enslaved people; without the enslaved and lacking workers, the plantation owners (fazendeiros) had to recruit workers elsewhere and thus organized, in the 1890s, the Sociedade Promotora de Imigração (“Society for the Promotion of Immigration”). Another effect was an uproar among Brazilian slave owners and upper classes, resulting in the toppling of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic in 1889. The Lei Áurea is often regarded as the most immediate (but not the only) cause of the fall of the monarchy in Brazil.


  • Robert I. Burns, S.J. 2001. Las Siete Partidas, Volume 2: Medieval Government: The World of Kings and Warriors (Partida II). University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 9780812217391.
  • Sweet, H. James. 2003. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.
  • Levine, M. Robert.; Crocitti, J. John.; Kirk, Robin; Starn, Orin. 1999. The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics. p. 121. ISBN 0822322900.