200 YEARS OF BRAZILIAN INDEPENDENCE (1822 - 2022)

Fernanda Rebelo Pinheiro

On April 22nd, 1500, the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral and his crew landed in the current city of Porto Seguro, in Bahia, which was a newly “discovered” territory. The period of the Portuguese arrival in Brazil coincided with the moment when other countries were seeking to expand their economic development through new sea trade routes and colonial possessions.



After the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese caravels in the "New World," other European nations such as France, Holland, and England embarked on expeditions to obtain abundant raw materials on the American continent.


Mercantilism was a set of economic practices that took hold between the 15th and 18th centuries, in order to accumulate wealth for European monarchies. Between the two regions that formed the colonial system - metropolis and colony - there was a set of rules and relationships that were called the colonial pact, whose main characteristics were commercial sales and the demand for taxes by the State.


From 1500 to 1530 (pre-colonial period), Portugal opted to establish a system of feitorias (trading posts) along the Brazilian coast. These were fortified or unfortified locations, usually near a port, where the trade of pau-brasil (brazilwood) was conducted through an exchange of goods between the Portuguese and the Indians (the pau-brasil cycle). The pau-brasil is a tree that has a reddish resin, which was useful for dyeing cloth.


In 1530 (the beginning of the colonial period), Portugal sent the first expedition to occupy Brazil, under the command of Martim Afonso de Souza, bringing together 5 embarkations with 400 colonists and crew members.


Slavery was established in Brazil around the 1530s, when the first effective colonization measures were implemented by the Portuguese. This enslavement initially took place with the indigenous people, and between the 16th and 17th centuries, it was gradually replaced by the enslavement of Africans who arrived in Brazil through slave traffic. Slavery was abolished on May 13, 1888, through the Lei Áurea (Áurea Law).

In 1534, by order of Portuguese king D. João III, the system of hereditary captaincies was established in Brazil, as a form of administration and colonization aimed at guaranteeing Portugal's interests and keeping the threats of invaders. Thus, the Portuguese Crown divided the territory into immense parcels of land that stretched from the coast to the limit established by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), forming 15 hereditary captaincies that were given to 12 captains "donatarios". A few years later, due to the inefficient control of these lands, difficulty in communication with the Crown, and several violent conflicts with the natives, the hereditary captaincies failed and the Crown had to subdivide the large lots into smaller lands (sesmarias), redistributing them to the beneficiaries.



With the end of the pau-brasil cycle, mainly due to the high cost of wood transportation, the sugar cane cycle emerged in the 1530s, with the production of sugar focused on the internal and external markets. The sugar cycle declined around 1700, when sugar exports decreased due to competition from British and Dutch sugar production in the Caribbean, and was replaced by the gold cycle.

With the arrival in Brazil of king Dom João VI and the Royal Family in early 1808, as a consequence of the invasion of Portugal by Napoleon Bonaparte's troops, the Portuguese Crown began to make important socioeconomic, political, and cultural investments in Brazil, building universities, theaters, and libraries, for example. The transfer of the Portuguese monarchy changed the framework of international relations in the South American context, shifting the administrative center to the city of Rio de Janeiro.

One of the main economic changes occurred with the opening of the ports to the friend nations, that is, it put an end to Brazil's trade exclusivity with the metropolis of Portugal. Thus, Europeans of various nationalities arrived in Brazilian lands for business or as immigrants, forming an expressive qualified contingent.


These and other measures that were taken by the Portuguese king displayed a clear intention to modernize the country as part of a proposal for Brazil to stop being just a colony, becoming, in fact, an integral part of the Kingdom of Portugal. This was confirmed when, on December 16th, 1815, Dom João VI decreed the elevation of Brazil to the "United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves" (being the end of the colonial period, 1530 - 1815). The presence of the Royal Family in Brazil had provided great advances, but, even so, demonstrations of dissatisfaction took place, for instance, the Pernambuco Revolution of 1817 as a result of high taxes, devaluation of the price of sugar and cotton, among other reasons.


Portugal was going through a severe crisis, both political and economic, as a consequence of the French invasion. Besides this, there was a strong dissatisfaction because of the transformations that were happening in Brazil, especially with the economic freedom that Brazil had conquered with the measures of Dom João VI.


The Porto Liberal Revolution began in 1820 and was organized mainly by the Portuguese elite, inspired by liberal ideals. According to the Portuguese bourgeoisie, Portugal should be the base of the Portuguese Empire, with the return of the king to Portugal. Another important claim was the demand to reestablish the commercial monopoly over Brazil, which caused great dissatisfaction in Brazil, since it showed the intention of the Portuguese to maintain colonial ties ("recolonization"). Dom João VI, pressured by the events in his country, returned to Portugal on April 26, 1821, naming his son, Dom Pedro de Alcântara Francisco Antônio João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim de Bragança e Bourbon (Royal Prince of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves), as Prince Regent of Brazil.


The Portuguese royal courts (which emerged with the Porto Revolution) took some measures that were quite unpopular in Brazil, such as demanding the transfer of the main institutions to Portugal, sending more troops to Rio de Janeiro, and demanding the return of the Prince Regent Dom Pedro to Portugal. These measures, together with the uncompromising and disrespectful treatment regarding Brazil, caused the Brazilians' resistance towards the Portugueses to increase and reinforced the idea of a separation from Portugal.


In December 1821, an order arrived demanding Dom Pedro's return to Portugal, and, as a consequence, a movement called the Resistance Club emerged. On January 9th, 1822, the Prince Regent announced that he would not return to Lisbon, as the Portuguese courts demanded, and would remain in Brazil. The episode, which was a milestone in the Brazilian independence process, became known as the “Dia do Fico”, when Dom Pedro, in the Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro, said the words: "If it is for the good of all and the general happiness of the nation, I am ready. Tell the people I'm staying".


The progressive separation between Brazil and Portugal became more and more evident with some measures approved in Brazil. In May 1822, the "Cumpra-se" was decreed, a measure that determined that the laws and orders decreed in Portugal would only be valid in Brazil with the approval of the Prince Regent. The following month, in June, Dom Pedro called a constituent assembly with the task of drafting a Constitution for Brazil, which took place in 1824 (the 1st Brazilian Constitution).

The relationship between the Portuguese courts and the Brazilian authorities remained irreconcilable and detrimental to the interests of Brazilians. On August 28th, 1822, orders from Lisbon arrived in Brazil with the message that Dom Pedro should immediately return to Portugal and announce the end of a series of measures in practice in Brazil, considered by the Portuguese as privileges.


The orders read by Maria Leopoldina, Dom Pedro's wife, convinced them to break with Portugal, and on September 2nd, 1822, as interim head of the Brazilian government, she organized an extraordinary session with the Council of State, signed the Decree of Independence declaring Brazil separated from Portugal, and sent it to Dom Pedro who was traveling to São Paulo. The messenger reached Dom Pedro's motorcade when it was near the Ipiranga River.


On September 7th, 1822, the Prince Regent Dom Pedro, on the shores of the Ipiranga River, declared independence from Portugal screaming "Independence or Death!"


On October 12th, 1822, in the Senate of the Chamber of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Dom Pedro was proclaimed Emperor of Brazil, and on December 1st, 1822 the coronation ceremony of Emperor Dom Pedro I took place.


With the declaration of independence, a number of regions in Brazil demonstrated their dissatisfaction and rebelled against the independence process. These were "non-adherent" movements that remained loyal to Portugal. The four major centers of resistance against Brazilian independence took place in the provinces of Pará, Maranhão, Bahia, and Cisplatina.


The first reign (1822-1831) marked the initial years of Brazil as an independent nation after the independence process. Brazil became a monarchy, the only one in Latin America, and was ruled by Dom Pedro I in an authoritarian manner. This period was characterized by disputes between the agrarian elite and the Emperor, political problems between liberals and conservatives, and regional conflicts in the Northeast and Cisplatina. Finally, on April 7, 1831, Emperor Dom Pedro I could not resist the pressures, renounced his throne, and sailed on a ship to Portugal.


With the abdication of Dom Pedro I, his son, Pedro de Alcantara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga de Bragança e Bourbon (future Dom Pedro II), who was only 5 years old, inherited the imperial throne. From 1831 to 1840, Brazil was then governed by 4 regencies, which conducted the government until the heir assumed the throne.

The second reign (1840 - 1889) was the period of Brazilian history that was ruled by Dom Pedro II. This period began with the Golpe da Maioridade, in 1840, which anticipated the heir's majority, allowing him to assume the throne at the age of 14.


The proclamation of the republic took place on November 15th, 1889, and resulted in the military overthrowing the monarchy and establishing a republic in Brazil.


Sources:

https://brasilescola.uol.com.br

https://www.educamaisbrasil.com.br

https://www.historiadomundo.com.br

https://mundoeducacao.uol.com.br

https://www.todamateria.com.br