This image shows enslaved porters carrying large sacks of coffee on top of their heads in Brazil. Ewbank explained how "every gang of coffee-carriers has a leader who commonly shakes a rattle, to the music of which his associates behind him chant. The load, weighing 160 lbs., rests on the head and shoulders. . . The average life of a coffee-carrier does not exceed ten years. In that time the work ruptures and kills them" (p. 728). Thomas Ewbank (1792–1870) was an English writer on practical mechanics. In 1845–1846, he traveled to Brazil and on his return published an account of his travels. He was then appointed United States Commissioner of Patents by President Taylor in 1849. Harper's Magazine (also called Harper's) is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance and the arts. A reversed and somewhat modified version of this engraving is published in Daniel P. Kidder, Brazil and the Brazilians (New York and Philadelphia, 1857, p. 29; also later editions) who also described coffee-carriers he witnessed in Rio in 1857.
Thomas Ewbank, "A Visit to the Land of the Cocoa and Palm," Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853), vol. 7, p. 729. Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library.
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"Coffee-Carriers", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed January 26, 2021, http://slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/894