Brazil History Part 14

Repressed more bloodily, with four death sentences, it was a disorderly and naive movement, inspired by the French revolution and which occurred in Bahia in 1798. The conspirators were about forty, almost all freedmen and black slaves, led by the tailor João de Deus do Nascimento and by the soldiers Luca Dantas and Luiz Gonzaga das Virgens, who advocated freedom and equality, and therefore the abolition of slavery. A very different reliance, for the next emancipation, was given by some enlightened patriots, who, between the end of the century. XVIII and the beginning of the XIX, began to consider the question of Brazil as a series of economic, political and moral problems, to be resolved in part. More moderate, among them, the Bahian Giuseppe da Silva Lisboa, later Viscount of Cayrú, educated on the model of Say and Burke, who advocated free ports, and Bishop Azeredo Coutinho, an opponent of the monopolies of salt and whale fishing, which were then, in fact, abolished (1801). More distinctly liberal ideas he preached, from Brazilian Correio, Ippolito Giuseppe da Costa. But it is curious to note that the principle of maintaining slavery, considered a necessary evil, was common in all.

According to BEHEALTHYBYTOMORROW, the Napoleonic burst drove from Portugal, as is well known, the regent Don Giovanni, who, accompanied by his mother, the mad queen Maria I, by his wife Carlotta Gioacchina, sister of Ferdinand VII, by his children and by a large retinue of nobles and officials, set sail from the Tagus for Brazil on November 29, 1807, with a fleet of 20 ships, on which a large part of the royal treasure was also loaded. Almost simultaneously, Junot’s army corps occupied Lisbon, where a regency council remained, under the protection of England. In this way, Don Giovanni was paying for his too supine dedication to British politics; but Brazil received from the presence of the regent a strong push towards independence and economic, social and intellectual development. Until now, apart from the lack of autonomy, it still remained a colony, as vast and rich as one would like, but a vassal of the metropolis. Once the mines fell, as we have said, agriculture had regained the upper hand, and the export of products had considerably increased. In the early years of the century, Brazil annually exported 100,000 sacks of rice, 70,000 sacks of cotton, 44,000 cases of sugar, 800,000 cocoa arrobas, 90,000 coffee arrobas (almost all from Pará, as cultivation in Rio and S. Paolo), 240,000 cowhides, 5600 indigo arrobas, and minor products. The cultivation of mandioca, legumes and grains was barely enough for local consumption. Except that producers and traders benefited little from this prosperity, due to the many tax laws, applied for their own benefit by the officials and committees charged with enforcing them. With the arrival of Don Giovanni in Bahia on January 23, 1808, in Rio de Janeiro on March 7, the position of Brazil changed as if by magic. Already upon his landing in the capital, the crowd praised the regent as the “emperor of Brazil”. And Brazil, in fact, which until then, according to Handelmann’s expression, represented a purely geographical unity formed by provinces extraneous to each other, was preparing, with the fusion of these, to be a real political unity. Don Giovanni can therefore be considered, with good reason, the true founder of Brazilian nationality. He was basically good, intelligent, cultural advocate, but weak, indecisive, impressionable, excessively inclined to religious practices, dominated by the English elements, personified by Lord Strangford and by those Portuguese nobles who were imbued with Anglophilia. This could not fail to determine a certain friction between the Brazilians and the Portuguese, who occupied all the highest offices; although Don Giovanni did not neglect to capture the benevolence of the children of the country with large distributions of titles and honors. It was said that Don Giovanni conferred more knightly insignia while staying in Brazil than all the kings of Braganza who had preceded him. From 1808 to 1817, Rio de Janeiro rose from 50,000 to 110,000 residents: and in the increase must be calculated at least 20,000 Portuguese, including nobles, officials, adventurers, parasites, who had followed or joined the regent in Brazil. It is estimated that the maintenance of this army of courtiers cost 6,000,000 cruzados annually, absorbing the bulk of the income. And since almost exclusively the Portuguese benefited from this waste, it is clear that it would have been madness to think of a true and intimate fusion between the Brazilian and the Lusitanian elements. But, albeit indirectly, the Brazilians immediately began to reap some advantages of the new situation. Still standing in Bahia, on January 28, 1808, Don Giovanni issued a decree that opened ports to direct trade with friendly nations. This measure, suggested by the English advisers and responding to the theories tirelessly preached by Silva Lisboa, favored the British merchant navy in a special way; but it is evident that Brazilian production and trade also benefited greatly. The prices of Brazilian goods rose considerably on the European markets: especially cotton, rice and tobacco, which saw its value fivefold. The same can be said for the subsequent decree of 10 April 1808, which granted the widest freedom of industry.

Brazil History 14