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Alex Melchiore

September 5, 2016
Dr. Tait Chirenje
Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power Review
Chapter 4: From Monarchy to Coffee Republic
At this point in history, Brazil has become a monumental export of sugar and other
resources and had become a major trader to other European countries such as Great Britain.
Things in Brazil were going so well that the whole monarch decided to make a huge jump from
an established metropolis to a work-in-progress colony. Before they could make the jump
however, they were pulled into a world-wide conflict started by the infamous Napoleon
Boneaparte who had given them a clear choice: shut down all ports to Britain or be invaded and
potentially killed. The choice was clear, to save the monarchy they must mobilize to Brazil along
with 10,000 other citizens such as noblemen, priests, and other high ranking members. This
whole trip took three-dozen ships to get them all over to Brazil. At that time Brazil had become
the center of the Portuguese empire that would lead to national independence but still had the
Portuguese influence. Joao VI would establish a bureaucracy, higher courts, and the first
National library (Reid 54-55).
After the defeat of Napolean, Joao started allowing more and more freedoms to enter
Brazil which included scientists from Europe to map out and explore, the first fine arts school
was opened in Rio which introduced new ideas in architecture, and prohibitions on
manufacturing within Brazil were lifted (Reid 55).
At this point in time, Brazil was the only colony is the Americas that had a monarchy for
an extended period of time. Back in Portugal, in the 1820s, the monarchy experienced
revolutions that threatened the monarchy rule because of the monarchy mobilizing many of its
resources to Brazil. Surprisingly, Brazil remained united throughout the clashes. These clashes
brought to question, how should the new nation be ruled? In 1824, Dom Pedro (the current ruler
of Brazil) assembled the first constitution which declared religious and political freedoms and
equal treatment before the law; all very unlikely of a monarch government. The debates
continued which gave rise to the conservative and liberal politicians. The conservatives believed
that a stronger core government that would restrain the power of notables while the liberals
believed in autonomy when it came to the principals and municipalities and wanted a locally
National guard to compliment the imperial army. In the end the liberals took control and
abolished the Council of State which ended up causing many uproars from the people after
abolishing the Council created powerful provincial assemblies (Reid 62-67).
Slavery was still abundant although the monarch had more restrictions. Slavery at this
point was looked down upon in the world especially from Great Britain, Britain made it clear
that they would recognize Brazil as its own sovereign nation if it abolished slavery by 1830.
Although a law was passed that stopped slavery, it still continued underground on a massive
scale. This outraged the British to the point where the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1845 that

allowed the British to treat a slave ship as a pirate ship and were authorized to take it and put the
captain and crew on trial (Reid 72-74).
By then the conservatives had more control in the Brazilian government and quickly
stomped out the trade and the last importation of slaves was in 1855. This meant that slavery was
quickly coming to an end. By this point coffee became one of the main exports so this lead to a
major demand in labor which ended up shaping the country for decades to come. This led to
massive immigration from other nations in which the government accommodated their passage
and a few other expenses. This led to fall of the monarchy in 1889 along with the threat of war
from Uruguay after Brazilian citizens rebelled against a cattle import tax. This would leave Dom
Pedro old and weary to the point where republicans were waiting for his death. It was implied
that the monarchy would die along with him along with the fact that Princess Isabel was not well
liked and the feeling that the government was holding the country back from reaching its
potential (Reid 74-76).
Evidently, once Dom Pedro passed away, so did the monarchy. After the fall of the
monarchy, the next election would lead to the start of a republic once the Brazilian Republican
party took over. In 1891, the first constitution of Brazil was drafted with positivist ideals along as
influences taken from the United States constitution; with that, Brazil became a federal republic
calling itself The United States of Brazil until this was changed in 1967. Once the constitution
was written, it did not go unopposed. The new ruler Deodoro de Fonseca became a military ruler
which was difficult to swallow for the European nations. Deodoro did not stand with the new
constitution and began making enemies which would lead to him declaring a state of siege. The
power struggles between the two political parties lead to a lot of rebellions and wars that lead to
many political hatreds and distrusts between the political parties (Reid 76-77).
Part of becoming a new nation is finding a modern identity through the arts such as
architecture, paintings, and writings. The modernist movement continued and Brazil would find
their new identity but was also hindered by political authority. The armies became more
professionalized from a French mission that would stay for twenty years to teach the armies of
Brazil and advise them (Reid 76).
Sao Paulo started to demand more political support for the coffee valorization which
ended up souring relations between Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais which ended up breaking the
First Republic down. Julio Prestes and Getuuilos Vargas were the presidential candidates. Both
candidates had ideals for pulling Brazil out of the Wall Street crash in 1929. The two sides were
majorly corrupt and fraudulent. Prestes ended up winning the election, but lesser government
officials began to organize a coup that would end up bringing an end to the Republic. The
Republic ended just as it began, with a coup (Reid 77-78).
Brazil had a long and complicated political history from monarchy to republic filled with
conflicts and coups. The republic brought with it a sense of modernization, a stronger
government, political parties, and a stronger military. Brazil was starting to gain ground as a
nation with many exports such as coffee and still sugar cane to substantially improve the

economy and spur economic growth at a slow rate because of the many conflicts within the
republic (Reid 78).

Source

Reid, M. (2014). Brazil: The troubled rise of a global power.