Family Ferreira da Fonseca 2 1665

Sons of Fonseca,
Our family has long thrived along the fine line between the Christian and Islamic
cultures. At no time has this balance required a more delicate step than now. As we are now
subject to Spanish law1, under his majesty king Carlos II who allows us to keep our African
slaves, the threat posed by the Moroccans at the gates of our fine city must incline us to lend
thought to the frail loyalties of our native servants. While the Iberians can afford to let
themselves be lulled into the demonstrably false belief that the dusky hue of African skin
indicates an inferior capacity for wile2, the House of Fonseca—indeed all of Ceuta’s sons—have
survived and even prospered by understanding the keen mind of our African neighbors. We
cannot allow our slaves, who serve to increase the profits of our family business, to endanger
those selfsame profits. With the changing attitudes among the Europeans regarding African
slaves and the impending conflict with our Moroccan neighbors3, I believe we must find a way to

temporarily disengage ourselves from the practice of slaveholding.
My Dear Family,
Tragedy! I am enslaved! While underway to Venice to see our factor there as I was bade
do, our ship was taken by corsairs sailing out of Algiers. As we were forced onto the corsair’s
vessel, I was filled with dread at the thought of being chained in their galley4. Thank God that
was not my fate. In Algiers I was purchased by an Iberian Moor who commanded me to write to
you to seek ransom5. It is only the prospect of ransom that has kept me safe thus far. In the
morning I am to be rented out to another although I do not know who or for what labor I will be
used. Please, dearest family, send our man to Algiers to pay for my freedom as swiftly as
possible. I do not know how long my luck will hold and I long to see our home again.

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