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They noted that “old age is a serious, irreversible illness" that affected most people over the age of 70 (according to paragraph 5, Title 104, Book 4 of the ) - which implied, of course, that in freeing his slaves, João could not "be responsible for his actions since he was incapable of anything, and [of] any civil, judicial or extrajudicial act," and had not been able to "exercise rights or incur valuable obligations, especially in dealing with all of his assets to the detriment of his wife and children." The argument was precisely that property in Sabino and Martha constituted João’s sole possessions, and as such, they could not be donated in such a manner, leaving his family in total poverty.
The attorney assigned to the former slaves made no headway with the claim that his clients’ freedom was based on their "social and natural rights," or that Martha’s and Sabino’s freedom had been conferred "by a competent person."Nor did it help for him to denounce the "greed and inhumanity" that had motivated the intentions of the authors of the lawsuit.
Sidney Chalhoub, Hebe Mattos, Eduardo Spiller Pena, Elciene Azevedo, Joseli Mendonça, and others have argued that freedom lawsuits contributed to the de-legitimation of slavery in Brazil over the nineteenth century.
Because she was continually pursued by João Vaz da Silva’s children (and heirs), who insisted that she return to their mother’s service, she moved away from the city where they lived.
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