Historians of the age of revolution have often pointed out the contradictions inherent in the preservation of slavery within political structures self-defined as liberal. In Latin America many a nineteenth-century apologist stymied the question by citing the countervailing inviolability of property rights as justification for the continued bondage of slaves to their masters; but what, then, explains the discriminatory treatment of free blacks and mulattoes under nominally liberal regimes? Within free society no such ideological impasse can be identified, yet an analogous, if informal, subordination of the rights of the free colored is amply documented. And the analogy may be extended to include the free poor, regardless of color. At this point matters of race and class overlap, raising important questions about social relations and policies that cannot be answered by reference to formal ideology alone.