restricted access Jacinto Ventura de Molina: A Black Letrado in a White World of Letters, 1766–1841

Born free in 1766 along the American frontier separating the Spanish and Portuguese empires, the Afro-descendant Jacinto Ventura de Molina grew up to become a tireless writer of history, religious philosophy, and petitions for black nations and poor residents in Montevideo, Uruguay. After serving in black militias in the early 1800s and working as a shoemaker, he began a long career as a lawyer and was recognized with the title "defender of the poor." Most impressive about this little-known prolific writer was that he operated in and moved between different social registers and contexts. He was a black letrado working in a white world of letters and knew well how to navigate multiple discourses and manipulate codes of the lettered city. His personality led in part to his popularity in 1820s and 1830s Montevideo. But he was best known for his writing, which spurred attacks from several contemporaries.