In the Shadow of Independence: Portugal, Brazil, and Their Mutual Influence after the End of Empire (late 1820s-early 1840s)1
Historians have long recognized how the formal achievement of independence meant neither that the legacies of colonialism had been extirpated nor that the newly won sovereignty was unencumbered. Legacies of colonialism in Latin America after independence were numerous and included older forms of indigenous tribute and taxation, labor regimes such as slavery, legal codes, and the position of the post-colonial polity in the world economy, the latter of which also circumscribed sovereignty as scholars working in the Dependency Theory, Informal Empire, and World Systems traditions have demonstrated.
Recently, historians have begun to recognize that many non-economic connections and relationships between Europe and Latin America survived the disintegration of the Ibero-Atlantic empires and that many new ones, both overtly coercive and less so, were formed (e.g., the circulation of political ideas; European immigration schemes) (Brown and Paquette 2013). Three phenomena—the “persistence of mutual influence,” the repair or re-thickening of frayed threads, and the spinning of new, unprecedented transatlantic webs—may be understood as combining to make plausible the notion of “Late Atlantic History” (Rothschild 2011); that is, an Atlantic History after the demise of formal empire. Traditionally, Atlantic History’s outer chronological limit was defined by the separation of the European metropolises from their American dominions, episodes normally considered part of the “Age of Atlantic Revolutions” (Armitage and Subrahmanyan 2010), after the recognition of “independence” was recognized and enshrined in international law. The survival of many links and connections, however, makes it plausible to think of those links within the context of an Atlantic History with enlarged temporal boundaries.
Late Atlantic History might also confront, this article suggests, the problem of absence, how the severance of links during the process of emancipation had lingering effects on individuals, institutions, and states. For the present purposes, Portugal’s situation for the two decades following formal recognition of Brazilian independence in August 1825 is an ideal case study. The problem of absence, or the whole host of dilemmas generated by the sudden deprivation of a centuries-old overseas empire, is something that few historians have investigated.
The theme might profitably be split into two, though still entwined areas of enquiry: first, the impact of these “Atlantic emancipations” on the ex-metropolises (Spain and Portugal); and, second, the degree to which newfound sovereignty in the Americas was felt to be secure from the machinations of the former metropolises; that is, to what degree and to what effect did Brazilians fear Portuguese recolonization? The argument sustained for the remainder of this article is this: first, the impact on Portugal of Brazil’s independence was tremendous, not so much in economic terms, but in its impact on domestic politics, international stature, and subsequent colonial policy; and, second, fears of a Portuguese “reconquest” or “recolonization” scheme, apart from generalized Lusophobia, especially in the 1831-34 period, had a pronounced impact on Brazilian politics in the aftermath of independence.
How was Portugal impacted by Brazilian independence? In a word, significantly, though nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historians tended to erase, or at least relegate to the background, the profundity and ubiquity of this impact. As in Spain, there has been a tendency to downplay the economic impact of independence, or at least to portray it as something other than a disaster. There seems to be good evidence on both sides of this question (see, for example, the Lains-Alexandre debate over the economic impact of Brazilian independence in Portugal), but what is both surprising, as well as well-documented, even if scarcely studied, is the impact of Brazil’s independence, and the survival of monarchy and the Braganza dynasty in Brazil, on Portuguese politics in the 1820s and 1830s, as well as on Portuguese deliberations concerning how to approach the remnants of its empire (in Central-Southern Africa).
The present author has written extensively elsewhere on the constitutional question (Paquette 2011), so little will be mentioned here regarding the constitutional question in this article. Suffice to say that Dom Pedro remained heir to the Portuguese throne after Portugal’s recognition of Brazil’s independence in August 1825, so that when his father Dom João died in 1826, he succeeded to the Portuguese throne. Unable to wear both crowns according to the terms of the constitution he had bestowed upon Brazil in 1824, he abdicated in favor of his daughter, Dona Maria, and promulgated a constitution which he imposed on Portugal, the 1826 Carta Constitucional. Portuguese constitutionalism in the nineteenth century would be indelibly marked by empire’s strange death and Dom Pedro’s unrealized ambition to unite both crowns, as the Carta remained Portugal’s constitution, with several important modifications, until the fall of the monarchy in 1910.
There were other connections beyond constitutionalism: many of the enslaved Africans sold into bondage in Brazil in the 1820s and 1830s were disembarked from Portuguese controlled enclaves in central and southern Africa. The enclaves assumed a greater importance after Brazil’s independence. Without colonies, and therefore without colonial products to re-export and markets to open up to allies, Portugal’s policymakers believed, the Lusitanian monarchy’s very survival was imperiled and many feared that its absorption into Spain was inevitable. Yet, paradoxically, and a cruel paradox it was, Portuguese Africa’s economy remained entirely dependent on the slave trade, which was itself reliant on the Brazilian market for slaves. This meant that Portuguese policy was at the mercy of Brazilian demand and also that any attempt to move away from dependence on the slave trade threatened to lead to disturbances in Angola and Mozambique (in particular), which some feared would join with Brazil as part of a South Atlantic confederation. In these two ways, constitutionalism and colonialism, then, among many others, Portugal’s post-imperial experience was shaped indelibly, in terms of both presence and absence, by the experience of imperial dismemberment.
From this vantage point, the Portuguese Civil War, occurring between 1828 and 1834, is not the insular event which it is usually understood to have been, but instead may be more helpfully conceived against the backdrop of decolonization, as an episode of late Atlantic history, in which the ambiguity of Brazil’s break from Portugal loomed large. The Civil War, of course, broke out when Dom Miguel, Dom Pedro’s younger brother, refused to accept the legitimacy of the Carta or the marital arrangement to his niece, Dona Maria. This rejection led many of the Carta ’s supporters, the so-called Cartistas, into exile and they eventually coalesced on the Azorean island of Terceira, from which by 1834 they eventually emerged triumphant with Dona Maria II installed and the Carta the law of the land.
Prior to his abdication of the Brazilian throne in 1831, the pro-Carta Regency assembled from 1829 on Terceira recognized that its success hinged on Dom Pedro.3 Vigorous efforts to persuade him to travel to Terceira were made from March 1830. Yet Dom Pedro’s centrality to the Civil War’s outcome would have seemed far-fetched several years earlier. After granting his Carta and abdicating the throne, the emperor publicly evinced little interest in Portugal’s predicament before his bother Dom Miguel’s coup d’état. There were various domestic reasons why Dom Pedro distanced himself from European affairs between 1826 and 1831, including mounting levels of Lusophobia in Brazil. For their part, the Carta ’s supporters expected little aid from Dom Pedro or the Brazilian government. A leading figure argued that, given the “difficult and extraordinary” relations with Brazil, Portugal would be served best by “maintaining the status quo;” that is, receiving regular payments from Brazil in accordance with the terms of the still-secret pecuniary convention that accompanied formal recognition of Brazil’s independence in August 1825.4 Even as the Civil War approached, few, if any, partisans of the Carta expected the succor of its framer.
There were several interconnected reasons why the Regency suddenly regarded Dom Pedro as a savior, which not easy to disentangle. The first and most obvious reason was the emperor’s personal connection to what was transpiring, particularly to his daughter, in whose name the Regency justified its existence and armed struggle. The second reason was Dom Pedro’s status as titular head of a sovereign state. Unless Dom Pedro recognized the Regency as the legitimate government of Portugal, to which he was linked by “so many titles and blood,” and in which he had “direct interest,” there was little hope for other governments to do so.5 Part of the justification for permitting Dom Pedro to nominate the members of the Regency in 1829 was precisely to secure such formal recognition. The third reason for Dom Pedro’s pertinence to the emigrado cause was his authorship of the Carta. Dom Pedro’s right to compose and impose a constitution, during his brief tenure as King of Portugal in 1826, became an essential aspect in the defense of the Carta as well as Dona Maria, whose right to rule was derived directly from it.
The recognition of Dom Pedro’s Brazilian government was sought by liberal exiles for material reasons as well: to obtain the funds needed to keep the almost penniless Regency afloat. As the fledgling Spanish American republics had less than a decade earlier, the Regency plainly understood that international recognition was required to obtain a loan from European financiers. With a loan, as previously mentioned, the Regency would obtain munitions and raise a foreign legion, for the number and resources of the emigrados were too small to mount an invasion of Portugal.6 Recognition of the Regency as the legitimate government of Portugal would enable Brazil to either bankroll the Regency directly or to serve as the guarantor of its debt (and debt service). Either way, Brazil would supply the funds owed to Portugal by the terms of the 1825 pecuniary convention of the recognition treaty. These funds, of course, were justified officially as compensation for public property lost due to Brazil’s independence, but in fact they were ear-marked to repay the loan taken by Portugal in London in 1823, which had underwritten its botched reconquest of Brazil.
This new arrangement, however, could be effected only if the Regency were recognized, first by Brazil and subsequently by other European powers, as Portugal’s legitimate government. Throughout the year 1830, gaining official diplomatic recognition was the chief aim of the Regency’s diplomacy.7 Recognition, one leading Regency figure hoped, would presage robust relations between Brazil and Portugal. He authorized a Portuguese agent to enter into negotiations in 1830 for a “permanent and reciprocal defensive alliance.” Such an alliance would make it incumbent upon the Brazilian government to “declare war on the usurping government of Portugal,” suspend commerce between Dom Miguel’s Portugal and Brazil, and, finally, supply the regency with “three of four frigates” with which it could “establish its authority throughout the Azores and take control of Madeira, whose possession would provide the Regency with the resources it currently lacks.” It was unclear why some believed that the Brazilian government would be tempted into such an alliance, except out of altruism, or what concessions the Regency would have to make in order to obtain such favorable terms. But the urgency of the situation was unmistakable. “We cannot hope,” a leading emigrado concluded, “that a serious movement against Dom Miguel will appear in Portugal while the Regency languishes without resources and remains isolated due to the blockade of Terceira.”8
Yet the Brazilian government never formally recognized the Regency, a source of immense disappointment and cause for endless complaint. Dom Pedro did little, even in a private capacity, furnishing those stranded on Terceira with inadequate material support. Palmela and Vila Flor, two leading figures of the regency, expressed their dismay directly to Dom Pedro: “our actions on this island are necessarily passive, for the material assistance VM promised has arrived slowly and only in part. It scarcely sustains 4,000 men in great hardship.”9 These pleas did not win the formal recognition they so desperately desired. Nor did they gain material relief, leading another Portuguese emigrado to curse the “horrible duplicity,” “bad faith,” and “perfidy” of the Brazilian government, which “paralyzes us” and “forces us into violent and desperate action.”10 He sarcastically asked Brazil’s emissary to Britain whether the Brazilian government, “by depriving the Regency of all means to sustain itself,” sought to “oblige [it] to surrender to the Usurper?”11 In private correspondence, an exasperated emigrado exclaimed, “it is extraordinary that we have never received a single favorable thing from Brazil … from wicked Brazil come only bad things which muddle matters further.”12
After arriving in Paris after his abdication in 1831, Dom Pedro warmed to the emigrado cause. He joined the Regency on Terceira, where he eventually maneuvered to place himself at its head. Some emigrados were both incredulous and apoplectic: “the Men of 1820 working for the ex-Emperor of Brazil to become King of Portugal? Who would have predicted it!”13 Even to his staunch supporters, Dom Pedro’s spasmodic engagement and long stretches of indifferent lethargy were perplexing, his motives far from transparent. Mouzinho da Silveira could not fathom “what caused Pedro to issue the Carta or why he later seemed to abandon it and remain in Brazil” (Mouzinho da Silveira 1989, II: 639). Yet the ex-Emperor eventually became semi-palatable to most emigrado factions, for both strategic as well as ideological reasons, so long as he operated within the limits they imposed. As two emigrado pamphleteers joked, they supported Dom Pedro because “he was a revolutionary in 1820; he gave the Carta to Portugal; he is the father of our Queen; and, besides, without him, the cause of our puny Regency would never stand a chance of gaining a foothold in the patria” (Passos 1831: 4). Furthermore, the fact that Dom Pedro’s meddling exasperated the despised Courts of Europe only enhanced his appeal. As one of Dom Pedro’s champions remarked, with pleasure and a great deal of hyperbole, to one of the ex-Emperor’s confidants, “His crimes cannot be expiated: he gave two liberal constitutions to two countries in two hemispheres, and thus destroyed the misguided Holy Alliance.”14
It may be enquired why Dom Pedro hesitated and perseverated, actions at odds with his much-criticized impetuousness at many junctures, both political and personal. There are several explanations, most of which relate to the delicate Brazilian political context in which he operated, where his continued involvement with Iberian affairs rankled the increasingly vocal “nativist” party. Certainly, the precarious and destabilized state of Brazil’s finances left him without expendable resources. Some of his behavior must be attributed to the steady stream of information he received concerning Portuguese affairs from his advisors. After the promulgation of the Carta yet before Dom Miguel’s usurpation, the letters of Dom Pedro’s envoy to Europe (Resende) caused disquiet. In a December 1827 missive, Resende made clear that “ultra-liberals were falsely professing love for VM, draping themselves in the Carta for the nefarious end of re-establishing the infernal [1822 constitution],” whereas the “ultra-royalists” were swapping the banner of Dom Pedro for that of Dom Miguel.
But Dom Pedro, who evidently thrived on adulation, received further entreaties that aroused his interest in European affairs. In a January 1828 letter from Saldanha, who was in communication with exiled Spanish general and conspirator Espoz y Mina about a federal (or confederated) Iberian Peninsula, with Dom Pedro as its constitutional monarch, the general insisted that European liberals esteemed him: “Is it possible, Senhor”, Saldanha enquired, “that VM does not wish to rule fourteen million men, Portuguese and Spaniards, with whose support you might sustain your authority in America, to the alternative of ruling over three million men of every color who nurture in their hearts the darkest ingratitude?”15 But even Saldanha’s sycophantic exhortation failed to move Dom Pedro, who refused to jeopardize Brazil’s de facto geopolitical neutrality. Beyond a smattering of proclamations and dispatching diplomats to European courts to generate support for his daughter’s cause, Dom Pedro recused himself from direct action. His involvement in the Portuguese civil war emerged less from commitment to his daughter’s cause or liberal ideas, than his hasty abdication, which left him casting about aimlessly in Europe, bereft of throne and funds.
His failure to act before 1831, however, should not be mistaken for indifference. Dom Pedro allotted much attention to the affairs of Portugal, even if he proved stingy in the material relief of the emigrados and withheld explicit, formal recognition of their cause. In his private correspondence, Dom Pedro lamented the fate of “the much compromised Portuguese refugees … martyrs of legitimacy and lovers (amantes) of the Carta” whereas his proclamations urged the Portuguese to “save the Carta.”16 He sought to answer emigrado pleas for material assistance. Barbacena suggested that whatever was allocated could be recouped after Dona Maria was installed on the throne by selling Bissau to France or else Timor to the United States.17 The minutes of the Brazilian Conselho de Estado reveal an intense and abiding interest in Portuguese affairs but also conflicting views concerning the desirable extent of Brazil’s interference. In November 1829, the question arose whether the £300,000 still owed to the Portuguese government according to the terms of the 1825 Pecuniary Convention should be diverted to support the emigrados in Brazil. Most members of the Conselho, a body composed of devout monarchists, concurred with Marquês de Aracati that the emigrados should receive the funds still owed, but Marquês de Paranaguá dissented, claiming that if it were to “compromise the government in any way”, the funds should not be dispensed.18 Evidently, these funds never reached the emigrados, though the historical record is unclear whether or not they were disbursed following Dom Pedro’s abdication.
What about Brazil? To what degree did the machinations of the ex-metropolis, real or imagined, impact the development of politics in the early national period? In the case of Spain and Spanish America, the much better known case, the retention of Cuba and Puerto Rico provided an archipelagic beachhead for peninsular reconquest dreams, especially as Fernando VII refused to countenance formal recognition of the new Spanish American states’ independence. The 1829 abortive invasion of Mexico, which triggered mass expulsions of peninsular Spaniards, was a clear-cut case of how independence, whether de facto or de jure, did not lead to the abrupt end of schemes for reconquest.
As it turns out, the insecure nature of independence was a concern over which many Brazilians fretted in the decades after Portugal’s formal recognition of that fact, in 1825. Much of the cause of the distress was mistrust of the motives of the Braganza family, particularly the ambitions of Dom Pedro I, emperor of Brazil, whose great stake in the outcome of Portuguese political strife rankled many Brazilian who wished the avoid entanglements in European politics. In fact, it was Dom Pedro’s inability to refrain from meddling in peninsular affairs, or at least the perception that he was interfering behind the scenes, which hastened his abdication.
Ignominious 1831 abdication aside, Dom Pedro retained no dearth of allies in Brazil, many of whom entertained fantasies of a restoration until his premature death in 1834. And some of these so-called “restorationists” retained hope for a grand reconciliation between Portugal and Brazil, which seemed plausible for reasons to be addressed subsequently in this article. The existence of such “restorationists” was a major, if largely neglected, factor in the development of Brazilian politics in the early 1830s. Support for Dom Pedro percolated not only at the elite level, but also was ubiquitous among the lower and middle classes. His 1831 abdication sparked urban uprisings led by disgruntled troops in Bahia, Pernambuco, and Minas Gerais. Unrest also spread among the civilian population—rural and urban—of the Northeast, which had suffered through severe drought in 1824-1825 and which was afflicted by another protracted bout with drought (1830-1834) (Reis 1993: 15).
In the backlands of Ceará, the ex-military official Pinto Madeira fomented a pro-Dom Pedro I revolt. His pro-Portuguese sentiments were well-known already, for he led an ill-fated, pro-Portuguese uprising in 1825. Brazilian authorities claimed, accurately, that Pinto Madeira aimed to “re-establish the old system of Portuguese government, and introduce a political schism among the rural folk who cry out for the rey velho”, using this doctrine as a cover to “rob, murder, and disturb the peace.”19 In 1832, after Dom Pedro’s abdication, Pinto Madeira renewed his resistance, determining that the restoration of the deposed Emperor was his last, best hope at a regime capable of keeping nativist fury at bay. Though his movement was dismissed as a “crazy insurrection” by an “idiotic sertanejo” in the urban press, his actions were heeded as a warning that “fratricide” could “devastate entire cities,” reminiscent of the wars then pulverizing the nascent Spanish American polities.20
Pinto Madeira’s threat dissipated, due to a combination of brutal repression and weak leadership, but he proved to be a harbinger for more serious, popular threats to the Regency governing Brazil while Dom Pedro II was a child. In April 1832, a coalition of Portuguese-born troops, merchants, and artisans revolted in Recife, aiming to restore Dom Pedro I to the throne. Shouts of “Viva Dom Pedro, Rei de Portugal, e do Brasil”21 echoed in the streets.22 In rural Pernambuco, planters and Portuguese merchants fomented a rebellion, mobilizing peasants uneasy with the land encroachment of the period.23 Even when elites withdrew their support, frightened by the social revolutionary turn, the peasant rebellion continued. These revolutionaries became known as “Cabanos,” after the humble forest huts or shacks, called cabanas, in which they dwelled. Cabano, of course, was a derogatory term, with negative connotations of backwardness and poverty. By 1832, the War of the Cabanos, or Cabanada, was raging. A guerilla force composed of Indians, runaway slaves, and other discontents coalesced around the charismatic figure of Vicente de Paula, a former sergeant in the now-disbanded colonial militia, who assumed the rather grandiose title “General of the Royalist Forces.” Paula claimed that the “blood-thirsty” Regency and “corrupt, lowly” Assembly jointly had “usurped” Dom Pedro I’s throne and were doing the same to his underage successor, thus legitimizing their struggle against the “Jacobins” of Rio de Janeiro, who manipulated the constitution to pursue their personal ambitions and advance their material interests.24
Dom Pedro I’s 1831 abdication also was greeted throughout Brazil with anti-Portuguese riots, with attacks on Portuguese-owned inns, houses, and stores, accompanied by the ubiquitous cry of “mata-marotos” (“kill the rascals[!]”).25 Portuguese-born Brazilians and Portuguese were beaten and killed, while stores were looted, ransacked, and burned. Anti-Portuguese attacks in 1831-1832, in Bahia at least, often were associated with a federalist political sympathies, but most lacked a clearly defined program of social or political reform. The Portuguese were convenient scapegoats, and the notion of expelling them from Brazilian soil, or at least depriving them of civil, military, and ecclesiastical appointments, was an attractive distraction from deep-seated problems (Reis 1993: 32-38; Souza 1987: 180). It is difficult to determine whether Lusophobia served to inspire or further inflame such “restorationist” movements or whether the outbreak of rebellion itself generated (or at least brought into the open) fierce anti-Portuguese sentiments. In all likelihood, it was a feedback loop. It is clear that the aftermath of the abdication and the onset of what historians lump together as the early Regency rebellions heightened sentiments which, in turn, made the possibility of Dom Pedro I’s return semi-plausible.
Some commentators dismissed fears of Portugal and the Portuguese resident in Brazil, disparaging rumors of plots as “fantasies concocted by hyper-active patriotic imaginations. The Brazilians have more than adequate strength to sustain their independence.”26 Restoration was more than a fantasy, however, though the figure of Dom Pedro was of far greater importance than some sentimental affinity with Portugal or a nostalgic saudade for the colonial regime. An active Sociedade Conservadora da Constituição Jurada do Império flourished in Rio de Janeiro from 1832, with three of Andrada brothers among its charter members. They made overtures to Dom Pedro in 1832-34, to which he responded evasively and ambivalently. Several of the members of the Sociedade held positions in the Council of State and occupied senate seats from which they could not be dislodged except by death, according to the life-terms enshrined in the 1824 Constitution (Kirschner 2009: 277).
The threat, then, was palpable, but the fear it produced was wildly disproportionate, even hysterical. It confused disaffection with Dom Pedro’s abdication with an imminent threat to Brazil’s sovereignty, whether blinded by genuine paranoia or motivated by the benefits of intentional obfuscation. “The Portuguese are without doubt the true motors of the disorder which is destroying this province,” an official in Pará reported, “they cannot accept that the Brazilians are not their slaves any longer.” He alleged that many Portuguese in Pará had “almost confessed to a criminal union with Dom Miguel.”27 When local disturbances occurred, they were blamed routinely on the “Luso-Restorationist club” which sought to return Dom Pedro to his former throne.28 As Dom Pedro’s fortunes in Portugal’s Civil War improved, he became the object of reconquest ambition fears. In Recife, O Carapuceiro assumed that Dom Pedro would not be “content to retire to England or France and live a quiet, private life. He is ambitious.”29 In Maranhão, one newspaper noted that while the deposed Dom Pedro “recognized the impossibility of conquering all of Brazil,” the provinces of the North, upon which “the Portuguese never gazed without saudades,” remained a target of reconquest due to their “wealth and proximity to Portugal.”30 There were constant reports in São Luis during 1833-34 of the mysterious machinations of a “restorationist faction” and their legions of shadowy Portuguese supporters.31
Evidently, high-ranking officials expected Portuguese warships to appear on the horizon at any moment. “Duque de Braganza will attempt to invade Brazil to restore his throne”, one alarmed Pernambucan official reported, and “we must destroy the miserable horde of slaves [in Brazil] who support the Duque, who seeks to destroy our liberties and re-impose the insupportable yoke of tyranny.”32 The impact of these “recolonization” anxieties and Luso-Restorationist rumors were felt at many registers of society. On a local level, they spawned grotesque anti-Portuguese violence. In Rio Negro, Pará, it was reported that “horrible robberies, violence, and massacres were perpetrated against those who did not have the fortune to be born in Brazil.”33 In the small town of Arraial do Pilar, in Matto Grosso, Portuguese-born inhabitants were attacked for allegedly stock-piling weapons for use in the anticipated war to restore Portuguese rule. The resulted mob violence claimed the lives of thirty of the town’s Portuguese inhabitants (Barbosa 1999: 80). In Maceió, an official admitted that “adoptive citizens and Portuguese are persecuted to inhumane extremes by extremist radicals [exaltados], to the extent that commerce here is stagnant, and the city is entirely deserted.”34 During the Cabanada, Pernambuco’s provincial government proposed the transport of all Portuguese-born Brazilians “accused, according to public opinion,” of being restorationists to the island of Fernando de Noronha, dispensing with legal due process.35
At the level of national politics, the Luso-Restorationist “threat” lent urgency to constitutional and other types of legal-administrative reform. Such fears were expressed publicly by leading national politicians in the Assembly. Vasconcelos, for example, described the likelihood of Dom Pedro’s attempted restoration as “very probable” and a “natural” step. He observed that the common people were “very frightened” of this “dangerous” prospect and that “measures must be taken to prevent it.”36 In 1834, the Assembly voted by a large majority to exclude permanently Dom Pedro I’s return to Brazil, though this measure was defeated in the Senate, most of whose members the ex-Emperor had appointed personally. As an historian noted recently, the passage of the 1834 Additional Act was “aided by fears that the former Emperor would succumb to the siren call of his supporters in Brazil and recross the Atlantic at the head of an army” (Barman 1999: 60). Many reforms, therefore, were conceived as safeguards against the alleged Portuguese menace, which was considered a palpable threat until Dom Pedro’s premature death in 1834.
Dom Pedro I’s death did not diminish the passion of the parties who used or abused his name, though it did undermine those who manipulated and exploited the vague threat of Portuguese reconquest (Flory 1981: 132). Still, even at the highest levels of government, fears of Portuguese meddling in Brazilian affairs persisted, of its efforts to cause strife which might harm Brazil’s territorial integrity and pave the way for Portugal to carve out some bit of Brazilian soil for its. During the Cabanagem in Pará in 1835, for example, Brazil’s envoy to Portugal continued to send back reports refuting the insinuation of his government that Portuguese agents were to blame for the unrest in that distant province. As late as April 1835, he had to insist that it was far-fetched (“não é crivel”) to blame the Portuguese government for the “disorders that torment that province of the empire,” insisting that its causes “should not be looked for outside of [Brazil].”37
These anecdotes strongly suggest the conclusion that the boundary separating colonial and national history, traditionally based upon international law (e.g. official recognition) is somewhat arbitrary and unsatisfactory. Reunification and reconquest schemes, however far-fetched in theory and unrealized in practice, percolated widely and had important effects on what are often thought to be post-colonial or national politics. Thus, the line between colony and nation (or, in Portugal’s case, between imperial and post-imperial power) was much fuzzier and more imprecise than the existing historiography generally acknowledges. Furthermore, nineteenth-century Portugal, at least the quarter century after 1825, should be recast or at least viewed afresh in light of the persistence of connections with Brazil, which exerted great influence over key episodes of Portugal’s purportedly post-Brazilian history, from constitutionalism to colonialism.
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1 Earlier versions of this article were given as papers at the “Portuguese History in a Global Context“ Colloquium held at Brown University (October 2012) and at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans (January 2013). The author is grateful for the numerous helpful suggestions and criticisms he received in response to both presentations, which were used in revising this article for publication.
2013, ISSN 1645-6432
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