September 2001

The B-Files

The intends to foster awareness and appreciation of Brazilian
history as a national archive from 1500 to 1900.
Its Internet database should become the preeminent
resource for scholars, students, and anyone willing to study Brazil.

Ricardo C. Amaral

On September 7, 2001, Brazil commemorates the 179th anniversary of Brazilian Independence from Portugal. But even today with our modern systems of instantaneous communications there is a major lack of knowledge about Brazilian history in Brazil. The Brazilian media is not doing its part in developing and promoting an appreciation of the major Brazilian historic figures who helped bring into existence the great nation which Brazil is today.

During the research process of my book José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva—The Greatest Man in Brazilian History I spoke with a number of high school and college history professors from around the country in the United States, and not one knew who José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was, nor did they know much about the history of Brazilian independence.

Different Perspectives

There is a sharp contrast between the United States and Brazil in the recognition that they give to the respective founding fathers of their nation. In the United States, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, to mention a few names, are held in the highest esteem by its citizens. However, in Brazil the founding fathers of the Brazilian nation, such as José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and his brother Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada are not appreciated by the Brazilian people with the same level of reverence, recognition and enthusiasm that Americans have for their founding fathers.

As the country Brazil takes its place among the major nations in the world, Brazilians will have to become more aware of their history. The Brazilian media should help educate the population about Brazilian history. This education can be done by starting to develop movies and historical educational television programs to present to the world the great men of Brazilian history. They can start with a movie about the life of the greatest of them all— José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva.

Why is José Bonifácio so important to Brazilian history? José Bonifácio, the architect of Brazilian independence, is known as "The Patriarch of Brazilian Independence". José Bonifácio was the source who gave the orientation, the form, the doctrine, the guidance, the intellect, and strategy, the combination of which resulted in the liberty and unity of the new Brazilian nation. Without José Bonifácio the country Brazil in its current form would not exist today.

The French had a major impact on Brazilian culture since 1555 when Villegaignon established a French colony in Brazil close to where Rio de Janeiro is located. The greatest French influence on Brazilian culture came as a result of the French Revolution. José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was studying in Paris at the Royal School of Mines in the years 1790-1792. He was studying under many world famous scientists of the time, including Vauquelin, Antonio Lourenço Jussie, Jean-Antoine Chaptal, Antoine François Fourcroy and Antoine Laurent Lavoisier.

José Bonifácio got to know Lavoisier well because both of them were interested in geology. He also had a personal friendship with Vauquelin, Fourcroy and Chaptal and through them he met their good friend Maximilien Robespierre. These men had one thing in common: they were members of one of the most influential political clubs of the French Revolution: the Club Breton. Later their members became known as the Jacobins. The Jacobin Club counted among its early members the Comte de Mirabeau, Abbé Sieyès, Antoine Barnave, Jérôme Pétion, the Duc d'Aiguillon and Maximilien Robespierre. José Bonifácio had direct exposure during this period to the best intellectual minds of that time, who were having a major impact on the events of the French Revolution.

José Bonifácio traveled a lot around Europe during 1793-1800, but his favorite place was Paris and he stopped in Paris every time he had the chance. This decade (1790-1800) is the period that had the major influence on the formation of his intellectual, cultural, scientific, and political thoughts, which helped him in the fulfillment of his destiny as a great statesman.

In 1823, the Andrada brothers (José Bonifácio, Martim Francisco and Antônio Carlos), with their leadership, had a major impact on the Constituent Assembly. They guided the proceedings of the process of framing the first Brazilian Constitution. This Constitution was effective December 13, 1823. They used as a model the French Constitution of 1816 which is also referred to as the "Lamartine Constitution".

In 1808, when Napoleon's army invaded Portugal, the Portuguese Royal Family moved to Brazil and they stayed in Brazil until 1821. This move by the Portuguese Royal Family had a very positive impact on Brazil. The Brazilian legal and judicial system is based on Roman law and the Napoleonic Code. There is no doubt that French culture had a major impact on Brazilian culture; to this day many Brazilian company executives know Paris much better than they know New York City, and they can speak French and not English.

The Brazilian nation has reason to be proud of its intellectual roots; its roots are connected to the French Revolution and its intellectual minds. France was the major power in the world during that period of time (1750-1815), and Paris was the major artistic, scientific, and intellectual center of that time. The French Revolution had a major impact on world history; it changed the world.

The process of the independence of Brazil did not happen just by chance. José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was fully intellectually prepared to guide Brazil with his leadership and superior intellect through that very important turning point in Brazilian history.

The Brazilian Cultural Society

Today, I am in the process of incorporating and organizing the Brazilian Cultural Society (BCS), a nonprofit organization under IRS Code Section 501 (c) (3) nonprofit tax-exempt status. This organization will make a major contribution to the cultural life in the United States, in Brazil and in the world. The Brazilian Cultural Society is a new organization, which is designed to open up new horizons on the American cultural landscape.

The Brazilian Cultural Society (BCS) is a nonpolitical organization, whose purpose is to foster educational, literary and benevolent activities, to preserve and advance the Brazilian culture, customs, language, and Brazilian arts. The Brazilian Cultural Society will seek to expose American audiences to Brazilian performing and visual arts.

The members of the society set the preservation of Brazilian culture as their goal. Another objective is to provide an atmosphere for social interaction by Brazilians living in the New York/ New Jersey/Connecticut metropolitan area and to promote a positive understanding and appreciation of Brazilian culture.

The Brazilian Cultural Society has six distinct areas of activities:

1) The José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva Center for Brazilian History Studies.

2) The Brazilian Public Library Initiative.

3) The Brazilian Literature Translation Initiative.

4) The Brazilian Lecture Series.

5) The Brazilian Performing and Visual Arts Initiatives.

6) The Brazilian Writers Association (BWA) Uniäo Brasileira de Escritores (UBE).

 The Board of Directors of The Brazilian Cultural Society is being drawn from a select group of elite academia, government, and business leaders. The board already includes among its founding members some world renowned intellectuals such as:

1) Nélida Pinõn. She is a world renowned Brazilian intellectual and one of Brazil's most important contemporary novelists. She is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. She was the first woman to hold the position of president of that prestigious organization. She has received the highest prizes in literature in Brazil and also in Latin America. Many of her books have been international bestsellers such as Caetana's Sweet Song and The Republic of Dreams.

2) Professor Gregory Rabassa. American translator who was largely responsible for bringing the fiction of contemporary Latin America to the English-speaking world. Of his more than 30 translations from Spanish and Portuguese, perhaps the best known is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970). Mr. Marquez was a 1982 Nobel Laureate in Literature. He also has translated works of Machado de Assis and Jorge Amado.

3) Professor Carlos Guilherme Mota. One of the most important Brazilian historians today. He is a prolific writer and has published a long list of history books.

4) Ambassador Flávio Miragaia Perri, an Honorary member of the board. Currently he is the Consul General of the Brazilian Consulate in New York. Ambassador Perri also has pursued one of the passions of his life in the field of literature, and his works include various books of poetry.

Ex-President of Brazil, Mr. José Sarney, is the latest person to accept an invitation to become a member of the board of directors of the Brazilian Cultural Society. It is an honor to our organization to have such an illustrious man as a founding board member.

Mr. Sarney's long career in public life started as a Deputado Federal (1956- 1966), then governor of the state of Maranhão (1965-1970) , then Senador representing the state of Maranhão (1970-1986) and the President of Brazil (1985-1990). After ending his presidential mandate he returned to political life after being elected Senator. Currently, José Sarney is a Senator representing the State of Amapá. Mr. Sarney is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and he has been a prolific writer and has a long list of published books. He also contributes to major Brazilian newspapers, and he writes articles for such newspapers as O Globo.

 The José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva
Center for Brazilian History Studies

The mission of the José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva Center for Brazilian History Studies is to foster awareness and appreciation of Brazilian history and to serve as an international scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation and dissemination of materials relating to Brazilian history. The goal is to become a "national archive" of Brazilian history from 1500 to 1900 with a strong focus on the period 1800 to 1900; a period which will cover Brazilian Independence in 1822 and the Proclamation of Republic in 1889.

The objective is to create an Internet database to document this period of Brazilian history, and its holdings will become the preeminent resource for scholars, students, filmmakers and publishers who want to study or document Brazilian history from this period. This database will be available and accessible, without charge, on the Internet to anyone around the world with an Internet connection. The objective is to further the study of Brazilian history by creating an international forum in which scholars of other countries can interact with other scholars and share the results of their research with their peers.

There will also be a newsletter where the scholars will be able to publish the results of their research, in turn, enriching further the Brazilian history experience. Conferences and seminars for historians will be organized, and lectures for general audiences will be offered.

The Website will make available as many books as possible related to José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva. There are a large number of books covering that subject. These books have been published since the 1840's and they comprise a vast body of literature important to scholars interested in studying Brazilian history and development. There are not only biographies of José Bonifácio's political career, but also books that cover other subjects which were so important to him as a politician, poet, scientist and humanist.

In this Website the database will include all of the works of José Bonifácio, from his scientific papers to his book of poetry. It will also include major documents important in the formation of the new nation, such as all the government decrees prepared and made into law by José Bonifácio. Many articles will be included that were published by the Andrada brothers in their newspaper O Tamoyo.

When historians refer to "The Andrada Brothers" they are referring to the three brothers, as follows: 1) José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (1763-1838), 2) Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada (1775-1844 ) and 3) Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Andrada Machado e Silva (1773-1845).

The Website also will include the document "Declaration of Independence of Brazil." Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada was entrusted with the job of drafting this document. After reviewing the details of the document with José Bonifácio, the document was immediately sent to Prince Dom Pedro.

On September 7, 1822, Dom Pedro was in the outskirts of São Paulo by the Ipiranga River when a messenger overtook him with the dispatches and letters from José Bonifácio, Dona Leopoldina, and the document from Martim Francisco. After reading the dispatches Dom Pedro declared the independence of Brazil.

The first Brazilian Constitution prepared in 1823 by the Andrada brothers also will be included. This Website will become a very important place for scholars doing research on Brazilian Independence and the Proclamation of Republic.

This great project will be made possible by a partnership between the Brazilian Cultural Society, and contributions from corporate and foundation supporters. This project will make Brazilian history available not only to the American public, but to the entire world.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University connection

We are in the process of inviting the president of Fairleigh Dickinson University to also become a founding board member of our organization, but that will depend on Fairleigh Dickinson University's willingness to make a small investment in the creation of the José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva Center for Brazilian History Studies at the University.

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is an ideal place for this Center of Brazilian History Studies, since I graduated from this university with a BA in Economics and MBA in Finance and I am an alumnus of the University. FDU's new president, J. Michael Adams, understands the importance of learning about other cultures, and he is a heavy supporter of FDU's strong international programs. He believes each student should have an international experience. There's been an acknowledgment at FDU that the University has a responsibility to prepare the students with a global outlook.

FDU's distance-learning program has been gaining national attention. Stories and broadcasts featuring the news that Fairleigh Dickinson University has become the first traditional university to require students to take online courses have appeared in local and national media, including CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, The Boston Globe, U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Tribune, The Associate Press, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Voice of America.

Every Fairleigh Dickinson student will know how to learn online, but more importantly, they will discover how the Internet can be used to connect people and to open doorways to new worlds and new cultures. Toward that end, the University has begun recruiting a cadre of distinguished scholars and practitioners to serve as world faculty.

Another reason why I am choosing Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is because FDU is becoming a prestigious institution and it is gaining a reputation for innovation and educational excellence in the USA. The University has been ranked by Success magazine one of the "Best Entrepreneurial Schools" in the country.

FDU is the only New Jersey institution to earn this distinction. The study, published in the February/March issue, ranked schools on a number of criteria, including the caliber of students, faculty, curriculum, outreach to the community, innovative programs and reputation among fellow schools.

Established in 1989, FDU's Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies is part of the Samuel J. Silberman College of Business Administration, which is accredited by the prestigious AACSB International, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

An extraordinary organization

The Brazilian Cultural Society will be a great asset to Brazil because the organization will promote Brazilian history and culture in a positive manner to the U.S. market. The organization will promote the best that Brazil has to offer from its culture, including its major literary and other artistic figures, but also it will try to explore the extraordinary intellectual minds of the figures who provided Brazil with its intellectual base. The organization will present to the world the high caliber of the intellectuals involved in Brazilian history, such as José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and his brothers Martim Francisco and Antônio Carlos; these men helped to build the foundations of the great nation. Brazil became a great nation not by chance, but because it had some great men in its history who provided the guidance and direction to a better future.

The president of Fairleigh Dickinson University ( FDU ) in Teaneck, New Jersey, has been receptive so far to the plan for the José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva Center for Brazilian History Studies, but the major obstacle that we have to overcome right now, is to find the seed money for this project. If you know of a source of funding which will be willing to fund this type of project, please contact me at the following address: Ricardo C. Amaral - PO Box 110302, Nutley, NJ 07110-0906 or by email at the following address:

Ricardo C. Amaral, the author, was born in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. He attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA, where he received a BA degree in Economics and later an MBA degree in Finance. He continued his Academic studies towards a PhD degree in Economics at Fordham University, but then elected to immerse himself totally into a professional corporate career. Ricardo Amaral is among a very few remaining living descendants of both José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and his brother Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada, the founding fathers of Brazil. You can contact the author at

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