The economy after independence remains the same as it was before, based on agrarian products and slave labor. The English, however, became the only buyers for those primary products and the only suppliers of finished manufactured goods to Brazil. In the 1820's coffee already comprised 44% of Brazil's exports, whose export generated the wealth necessary to support the "Empire" until 1889.


After a relatively short war of independence (1822-1824) Brazil became an empire under Dom Pedro I, who, nevertheless, continued to be the heir to the Portuguese throne.


Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva unsuccessfully proposed in parliament a bill to end the importation of slaves by 1828. (Pierson 1967:51) A strong abolitionist, Bonifacio was the preeminent leader of the period (Skidmore 1999:67).

Abolition in Brazil did not have the strength and persistence it had in the US during the period 1850-1900. (Nabuco 1977:xix)


Pedro I supports the adoption of a Constitution that vested broad powers in the hands of the emperor. Start of many political battles with the new legislative assembly, composed of landowners and commercial urban interests.

The first ruler of independent Brazil -- whose full name was Pedro de Alcântara Francisco Antônio João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim de Bragança e Bourbom, but who is mercifully known only as Dom Pedro I -- was a outstanding personality. He made an important contribution to the acceleration of the social and political evolution of the 19th century by granting Brazil in 1824 and Portugal, two years later, constitutional charters which were advanced for the time and broke the tradition of the Divine Right of Kings.

In 1824, the United States, inspired by the ideas of the "Monroe Doctrine", formally recognized Brazilian independence.

A revolt against the monarchical principle occurred in 1824 in Pernambuco. They were mad because the monarch had appointed a new president for the province without consulting them. The government, backed by superior sea power, conquered the Pernambucan capital of Recife and crushed the rebellion.


Portugal recognized Brazilian independence in 1825 in response to English pressures and the payment of two million pounds sterling, which were borrowed by Brazil for that purpose. Since the debts of Portugal owed England at the time exceeded that sum, the original loan never left England. The English, however, continued to receive both principle and interest from Brazil, in addition to extracting a renewal of the commercial privileges granted by treaty in 1810, as well as an acquiescence to the International Convention prohibiting slave trade.

The Diario de Pernambuco founded in 1825, claims to be the oldest newspaper in Latin America.

Outbreak of war between Brazil and Argentina over the attempt of Brazil's Cisplatine Province (roughly present-day Uruguay) to leave the Brazil and join Argentina. English intervention ended the conflict.


In 1826, on the death of João VI, Dom Pedro inherited his father's kingdom. However, he abdicated the Portuguese throne soon after in favor of his infant daughter, Maria da Glória, who became Queen Maria II.

In 1826, under pressure from Great Britain, Brazil had committed herself to a treaty to abolish the African slave trade within four years. Not confirmed in legislation until 1831.


Britain forces recognition of an independent Uruguay (a buffer zone between Argentina and Brazil).


number of regional rebellions threatened national unity; slave risings


Street demonstrations in Rio between the pro-Brazilian faction and the pro-Portuguese faction. This leads Dom Pedro I to abdicate. Leaves his 5 year old son to be the sovereign. In 1831, Dom Pedro I abdicated the throne of Brazil in favor of his son, Dom Pedro II, who was still a minor. This decision, prompted in part by differences with the Brazilian Parliament, was also motivated by a need to return to Portugal to oust his brother, Miguel, who had usurped the throne from Queen Maria.

In 1831 Brazil and Great Britain made a treaty to abolish the slave trade. But the treaty was virtually unenforced. At least another half million slaves were brought into Brazil, many in United States ships back by British capital. (Pierson 1967:36)

On November 7, 1831, the regent, Padre Diogo Antonio Feijo, signed a resolution declaring free all Africans brought into Brazil from that time forward. (Pierson 1967:51) Law of 1831 openly violated.

Political Factions

The "exaltados." They were opposed to Pedro II and favored greater provincial autonomy than the moderate liberals. Their support came from those regions in Brazil that were not as rich as the dominant provinces.

The moderate liberals. Supporters of the Brazilian monarch and Dom Pedro II. They believed Brazil should remain an empire, but totally independent of Portugal. These supporters were drawn primarily from the centrally located and rich provinces of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, which controlled the machinery of imperial government in Brazil. They had the backing of the common man.

The absolutists. They wanted to bring back Pedro I and restore the united empire of Portugal and Brazil. They wanted a stronger, more centralized government. Their support came from the merchants, many of whom had been born in Portugal, who lived primarily in the coastal cities, including Rio.


Ten times as many slaves were sent to Brazil as to the U.S., but the death rate in Brazil was so great that in 1860 Brazil's black population was half the size of that in the US. (Rough Guide 606)

The initial movement toward abolition came from Britain. Abolition was regarded with horror by the large landowners in Brazil. A combination of racism and fear of economic dislocation led to a determined rearguard action to preserve slavery.

Beginning in 1832, the Royal Navy maintained a squadron off Brazil, intercepting and confiscating slave ships. They also occasionally entered Brazilian ports to seize slavers and burn their ships.


War of the Cabanos in Pernambuco (1832-1835). They demanded the return of Pedro I. The main supporters were Indians and slaves and other lower sectors of the population. The revolt was crushed in 1835.


The Additional Act of 1834 (amending the Constitution of 1824) gave increased powers to the provinces because now each province was allowed to create a provincial assembly with control over taxation and expenditure and with the ability to appoint local officials. The result was an explosion of regional revolts.

Dom Pedro I dies.


The leaving and subsequent death of Dom Pedro I left a power vacuum. The first and most serious of the rebellions was the Cabanagem Rebellion in Para. A mass rising of the dispossed began in 1835. The rebels took Belem. The Indian Domingues Onca killed the governor of Para. It took a decade to put down the rebellion. The total number of killed in Belem was 30,000 (in a population of only 150,000).

Political Factions

There were two parties, the Liberals (pro-regionalists) and the Conservatives (the pro-Empire forces).


A parallel revolt, the Balaiada, began in Maranhao in 1838. The rebels took Caxias, the second city of the state. They held out for three years against the army. Similar situations in Pernambuco, Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul occurred in the 1830s and 1840s. The disruption was immense with large areas ravaged by fighting which threatened to tear the country apart.


offer crown to the 14-year old prince

The parliament revoked the powers delegated to the provinces in the Additional Act of 1834. The disastrous experiment in decentralization was over.


crowned Pedro II, emperor of Brazil

Unlike his father, Pedro II grew up to be a stern, temperate, scholarly monarch. During his rule of half a century, Brazil reached political and cultural maturity, and the unity of the vast country was firmly secured. Political and social institutions developed peacefully and attained stability. A competent administration was created, slavery was progressively eliminated until its complete abolition in 1888, European immigration was actively promoted, and health and welfare schemes were planned on a national scale.

The influence exercised by the Emperor on the people and institutions of the country did much to ensure that the transition from Monarchy to Republic, when it eventually came, took place without bloodshed.


Three more regional uprisings, bu they were easy to repress.


Revolt in Pernambuco backed by the Liberals (influenced by the radical ideas underlaying the revolutions of 1848 in Europe). The imperial forces crushed the revolt in 1850. It was the last major regionalist challenge to centralized monarchy.


The poet Antônio Gonçalves Dias won fame as the leader of the "Indianist" Romantic movement which dominated Brazil at mid-century. He was born in Caxias, Maranhão, in 1823. He was the son of a tradesman and a mestizo woman. He was a Law graduate from Coimbra, Portugal. The following year, he came to know Ana Amelia Ferreira Vale, who was to become an inspiration to many of his romantic pieces including the poem ‘Once again - good bye'. He moved to Rio de Janeiro where he worked as a teacher and a journalist. In 1849 he founded Guanabara magazine, a periodical to publicize the romanticism of then. He died in a shipwreck in 1864.


The Conservative party dominated this period, called the "conciliation," wherein there was a muting of party conflict and an agreement to avoid controversial issues.


the Brazilian government passes a statute putting an end to the transatlantic shipment of slaves


The mulatto writer Joaquim Machado de Assis (1839-1908) considered greatest Brazilian writer. He was founder and long-time president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. In his subtly ironic novels he displayed his keen psychological insight and his pessimistic vision. His novels include Epitaph of a Small Winner (1881), Philosopher or Dog (1891), and Dom Casmurro (1900).


The slave trade in Brazil abolished. British slave-chasing fleet leaves. But to the disgust of the abolitionists, slavery itself remained legal.



Provoked by Brazilian meddling in Uruguay (the Brazilian generals wanted to incorporate Uruguay into the empire), Paraguay invades Uruguay and parts of Mato Grosso. Argentina dragged into the conflict because of a mutual defense pact with Brazil. Paraguay was threatened by the possibility of Brazil blocking their access to the sea.


Bloody war with Paraguay (under the dictator Francisco Lopez), the War of the Triple Alliance. Paraguay fought Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay at the same time. The war was dreadfully costly. It was the bloodiest war in South American history. Brazil alone suffered over 100,000 casualties.

The Parguayan army was united, disciplined and brave. They would be defeated by superior numbers but always managed to maul the opposition.

What Brazilian reformers envisioned in the aftermath of the American Civil War was a moderate measure intended to end slavery slowly without harming the nation's agricultural economy; but, like earlier attempts to restrict slavery, the free-birth reform met strong oppositon. Brazil's disastrous war with Paraguay was allowed to justify a long delay in the passage of a free-birth law. (Nabuco 1977:xxi)


Government says slaves who join the army would be freed; a lot of them died in the war.


It was a war of extermination and six terrible years were only ended by the killing of Lopez in 1870, by which time war, disease and starvation, had reduced the population of Paraguay from over a million to under 20,000.


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