"José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva -
The Greatest Man in Brazilian History" - by Ricardo C. Amaral
Copyright © 1999

This article is Part IV of a four part series in commemoration of Brazil's
500th anniversary. (Brazil's actual birthday date is April 22, 2000)

The Andrada Brothers.

When historians refer to "The Andrada Brothers" they are referring to the three brothers, as follows:
A) José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva ( B 1763 - D 1838)
B) Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada ( B 1775 - D 1844)
C) Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Andrada Machado e Silva ( B 1773 - D 1845)

In 1995, I wrote two articles about José Bonifácio and I posted them in a newsgroup about Brazil. I received many emails in reply to the postings, most of them asking further questions about the Andrada brothers. But some of the emails received from the readers were critical of them, mentioning that the Andrada brothers were considered radicals in their time.

Were the Andrada Brothers Radicals?

A radical in this context would be a person who favors fundamental or extreme change, favoring basic change in the social or economic structure of a country.

Can the Andrada brothers be considered radicals when we look back and analyze their involvement in the history of Brazil ? The answer is yes. There is no question that they were radicals. Let's analyze why, in order of events from 1817 to 1840.

Antônio Carlos and the Revolution of 1817.

1) Antônio Carlos was working in Olinda, Pernambuco Province as a magistrate when a Republican and Mason Revolution broke out in that province in 1817. He was asked to join the leadership of that revolution. He even sent a letter to José Bonifácio in Portugal dated April 14, 1817 describing what was happening. In that letter he mentioned how well the revolution had turned out.

A short time later José Bonifácio ( in Portugal ) found out that the revolution in Pernambuco had been a disaster for the revolutionists. Most of the leaders of that revolution had been hanged. The only reason they spared Antônio Carlos' life was because they knew he was a brother of José Bonifácio. (The revolution in Pernambuco was crushed by the Portuguese and lasted only 75 days.)

Antônio Carlos spent four years in prison for participating in that revolution. When José Bonifácio returned to Brazil at the end of 1819, his brother Antônio Carlos was still in prison in the province of Bahia.

José Bonifácio and Brazilian Independence.

2) José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was the architect of Brazilian independence;
that is why he is known as "The Patriarch of Independence." He guided Brazil through its independence process from 1821 to 1823. During this period José Bonifácio was the Prime Minister and his brother Martim Francisco was the Finance Minister of Brazil. (In the book I cover in detail José Bonifácio's role in Brazilian independence.)

The First Brazilian Constitution.

The three "Andrada brothers" continued participating in the Constituent Assembly after José Bonifácio and Martim Francisco resigned from their government positions. Antônio Carlos was a representative of São Paulo. José Bonifácio had been elected Deputado from São Paulo and Martim Francisco had been elected Deputado from Rio de Janeiro.

They needed a leader to direct the Constituent Assembly. José Bonifácio knew that he was not a great orator. He also had some other drawbacks, as he did not worry about being amiable or courteous. Any one could see when he was angry, and he had a certain arrogant manner. Martim Francisco was a good oratorbut his personality was a carbon copy of José Bonifácio's and he also projected that arrogant manner.

Antônio Carlos was a great orator; as a matter of fact he was considered the greatest orator in Brazil in his generation ( 1817 to- 1845 ). Later José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Younger), son of Martim Francisco and grandson of the Patriarch also was considered the greatest orator of his generation ( 1850 to 1886 ).

Antônio Carlos took the leadership position to lead and to guide the proceedings of the process of framing the first Brazilian Constitution. José Bonifácio used his brothers to make his points. He had full confidence in the abilities of his brothers to get his points across, but he was always in the background giving support to them.

Out of the almost one hundred representatives of the States in the Constituent Assembly, besides the three Andrada brothers, only three or four people made contributions to the framing of the Constitution.

The Andrada brothers started attacking the administration through their editorials in their newspaper "O Tamoio". They were right in their attacks. What the Portuguese were doing arose suspicion that they wanted to reunite Brazil with Portugal. José Bonifácio and Martim Francisco, belonging to the opposition party, made constant attacks on the cabinet of ministers, causing them considerable embarrassment.

The Andrada Brothers Expelled from the Contituent Assembly

The fight got so heated that the members of the Constituent Assembly were worried that their existence was in jeopardy. The Emperor was so angry with the Andradas that he decided to dissolve the Constituent Assembly or to expel the Andradas from the Constituent Assembly.

The Emperor watched the three Andrada brothers continue to dominate the situation. Finally he got his horse and, followed by a group of horseman, went to the Constituent Assembly.

The forces surrounded the Constituent Assembly building and pointed their artillery at the door of the building, and Brigadier Moraes passed on to the Constituent Assembly the Emperors' order for their dissolution. Antônio Carlos and Martim Francisco were held prisoners as soon as they left the building.

On November 13, 1823 a new group started deliberating the Constitution; at that point most of the articles of the Constitution had been decided and they were in the process of being submitted to the Municipal Chambers of the States for review. Dom Pedro told them to finalize the Constitution by December 13, 1823. This Constitution was to be effective as of December 13, 1823 and the swearing ceremony would be done on March 25, 1824.

The port of Rio de Janeiro was reopened on November 24, 1823 as soon as the ship "Lucônia" left Brazil with the prisoners. When José Bonifácio, Martim Francisco, and Antônio Carlos went down in the ship, they had a nice surprise. Their families were waiting for them to go with them into exile.

In the beginning of 1828, Martim Francisco and Antônio Carlos returned to Brazil with their families. They returned to defend themselves, including José Bonifácio, against all of the charges brought forth by the government. José Bonifácio stayed in France with his wife.

As soon as they arrived in Rio de Janeiro they presented themselves to the authorities who imprisoned them immediately in the prison in the "Ilha das Cobras".

They prepared their defense and they destroyed their adversaries in court. They got a unanimous absolution on September 6, 1828. Their names were cleared and vindicated.

The Andradas Continue Their Political Careers.

When Martim Francisco was in prison he was invited to take a position as a government Minister. He did not accept the offer and told them that first he had to get justice and prove his innocence. Also, when he was in prison in 1828 he was elected Deputado for the Minas Gerais province. Later in 1838, Martim Francisco was elected Deputado for the São Paulo province.

Antônio Carlos also was elected Deputado when he returned from exile in 1828, and he resumed his political career in Brazil.

After the Andradas had been vindicated in Brazil, José Bonifácio stayed one more year in France before he returned to Brazil. José Bonifácio left Bordeaux at the end of May 1829 to return to Rio de Janeiro. He arrived in Brazil on July 23, 1829.

When José Bonifácio was in exile, the province of Bahia elected him Deputado to represent them in Congress. José Bonifácio returned to Congress as a Bahia representative only on June 22, 1831.

Martim Francisco & Antônio Carlos Appointed Ministers in 1840.

3) After José Bonifácio's death in 1838 his brothers Martim Francisco and Antônio Carlos continued their political careers. The political situation was a mess in Brazil in April 1840. The "Andrada" brothers and other liberal leaders organized a secret club to promote the emancipation of Dom Pedro II.

The Andradas began to organize public demonstrations in support of the emancipation of Dom Pedro II, and engaged in debate using the press to get further public support.

Disregarding the pleas from the leader of the government for postponement, a joint session of Congress invested Dom Pedro with imperial authority on July 23, 1840. The young Prince was fourteen years old. He took the oath to uphold the Constitution and from then on he was Emperor Pedro II.

Unlike his father, Dom Pedro II had been born and educated in Brazil. His tutors, starting with José Bonifácio, exposed him to heavy doses of Enlightenment thought. During his later years in power some political commentators referred to Dom Pedro II's government as the best republican government in the Americas.

When the Emperor Dom Pedro II formed his first cabinet of ministers in 1840, he rewarded the Andrada brothers by appointing Antônio Carlos as the Prime Minister, and Martim Francisco as the Finance Minister.

Were the Andrada Brothers Radicals ?

Why was the economic establishment of his time so afraid of José Bonifácio ?
The basis of the Brazilian economy was agriculture and mining, which were performed by slave labor. As a matter of fact in Brazil they used slave labor for everything including manufacturing (a reason which José Bonifácio highlighted; he pointed out that this was one of the major reasons for the Brazilian low productivity in that sector), as compared with the United States where slave labor was used mostly in agriculture.

José Bonifacio was against slavery, and he wanted to free the slaves. He was also in favor of major agrarian reform. These two issues which José Bonifácio was fighting for so hard would have shaken the Brazilian economy of his time to its foundations. If he was able to end slavery and get his agrarian reform proposal passed, the result would have been that the Brazilian economy would have to go through a major restructuring. These would have been radical changes to the structure of the Brazilian economy of his time and these changes made everyone involved very worried including the landowners, slaveowners, and slave traders, and these were a very powerful groups of people of his day.

The Declaration of Independence of Brazil.

A fact which many well educated Brazilians don't know is that Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada was entrusted with the job of drafting the "Declaration of Independence of Brazil." After reviewing the detail of the document with José Bonifácio, the document was immediately sent to Prince Dom Pedro

In the United States Thomas Jefferson is the author of the document
"The Declaration of Independence of the United States."

In Brazil Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada is the author of the document
"The Declaration of Independence of Brazil."

Most of the above information with the proper footnotes can be found in much more detail in the book "José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva - The Greatest Man in Brazilian History" by Ricardo C. Amaral. - Copyright © 1999

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