Why José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva Is the Greatest Man in Brazilian History

José Bonifácio de Andrada e SilvaI don’t understand why on June 13, it’s not a national holiday in Brazil to commemorate José Bonifácio’s birthday. José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was born on June 13, 1763. In June 2013, Brazil is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth date of the greatest man in Brazilian history.

I had to read a lot of material during the process of writing my book “José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva – The Greatest Man in Brazilian History” since there is a long list of books written in the last 200 years that discuss José Bonifácio in one way or another.

I have read a lot material about José Bonifácio’s life including the period during the French Revolution, an important and influential time on José Bonifácio’s intellectual development. As a result, I have a better understanding and appreciation of José Bonifácio’s accomplishments and its impact on Brazilian history than most people.

The independence of Brazil didn’t happen by accident: José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was fully prepared to take charge and guide Brazil to a smoother transition than the one that he had seen in France during the French Revolution.

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

Why is José Bonifácio so important to Brazilian history? José Bonifácio, the architect of Brazilian independence, is known as “The Patriarch of 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 Brazil in its current form would not exist today.

Here is a summary of the 36 years that José Bonifácio spent in Europe (1783 to 1819) preparing himself for the extraordinary job that he accomplished during the process of Brazilian independence.

Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal

João V was succeeded in 1750 by his son José I (1750-1777), an indolent prince already of middle age who had had no experience in government and lacked talent or energy for it. The Portuguese state was facing a crisis arising from the paralysis of government in the last decade of D. João’s reign, coupled with a decline in trade revenues.

As a consequence, the new king appointed several new ministers whose only common denominator was their dissatisfaction with the breakdown of the state machinery and their determination to institute administrative and economic reforms. Chief of these was a fifty-one-year-old sometime diplomat of petty fidalgo background, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, later becoming the Marques de Pombal in 1770. He soon became the strong man of D. José’s reign, relieving a disconcerted king of the main responsibilities of government.

Becoming the secretary of state, he firmly took control of affairs at the time of the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and with royal assent served as minister-dictator for the balance of the reign. He became, far and away, the dominant figure in eighteenth-century Portuguese history.

Pombal’s regime may be divided into four phases: 1)1750-1760, devoted to government and mercantile reforms; 2)1760-1763, dealing primarily with the military challenge of the last phase of the Seven Years’ War and the colonial struggle with Spain; 3)1764-1770, facing a commercial and fiscal crisis, devoted to mercantile and tax reforms; and 4)1770-1777, concerned mainly with educational reform and the stimulation of domestic manufactures.

Pombal, who had served in diplomatic posts in England and Austria, was shocked at Portugal’s economic backwardness. He tried strenuously to steer the nation from its apathy. He tried to give them a spark to bring it into the currents of contemporary Europe.

Pombal’s reforms reached into many areas including the reorganization of the ancient University of Coimbra in 1772. Pombal brought Enlightenment period thought to Coimbra and recruited the best professors available in Portugal and elsewhere in Europe at this time to accomplish this goal. Some faculty were resistant to the new reforms. The new ideas took root, and they could not stop the new influence from the English and French Enlightenment thoughts.

Pombal abolished slavery in metropolitan Portugal in 1773, ending the import of slaves for household service and the cultivation of estates. Equally notable were the educational reforms of the l770s. In 1772, the curriculum and organization of the University of Coimbra was modernized for the first time in two and a half centuries, introducing more study of the natural and physical sciences. A series of new schools for the upper and middle classes were established, with greater emphasis on education in the vernacular. During the second half of the century there was an increase in middle-class literacy and in the production of trained clerical and administrative personnel, but the peasantry and urban lower classes remained almost completely untouched, and had if anything an even lower literacy level than in Spain. Moreover, Pombal suppressed discussion of the liberal political ideas of the English and French Enlightenment and established a government censorship board in 1768.

Two People who had a major impact on José Bonifácio’s life

1) Duke of Lafões

The Second Duke of Lafões, Dom João Carlos de Bragança de Souza Ligne Tavares Mascarenhas da Silva (born March 6, 1719 – died November 10, 1806) He was 87 years old at the time of his death.

The Duke of Lafões was a cousin of Queen Maria I (queen of Portugal from 1777 to 1816.) He was the most influential man in Portugal in the 1780’s. He was also a nephew of Dom João V (king of Portugal from 1706 to 1750.)

His uncle Dom João V decided that the Duke of Lafões should follow a career in religion, and the Duke was assigned to study canonical law at Coimbra University. Later, the Duke decided not to follow a career in the church.

When the Duke’s older brother died, Dom João V also had died, and the new king was Dom José I (king of Portugal from 1750 to 1777). During Dom José I’s reign, the real governmental power was in the hands of Sebastião José de Carvalho, the Marquis of Pombal.

After the death of the Duke of Lafões’ older brother, King Dom José I and the Marquis of Pombal refused to let the Duke of Lafões transfer his brother’s title and properties to himself.

Unhappy with this situation, he resolved to go for a long trip. The Cortes gave him permission and he went on a long trip from 1757 to 1779. On this trip he visited Switzerland, Italy, France,  Greece, Egypt, Frigia, Lidia, Mesopotamia, Sweden, Poland, Laponia, Prussia, Denmark, and some other locations.

He returned to Portugal only two years after Dom José I’s death, and the Marquis of Pombal was no longer in power. His cousin Queen Maria I immediately gave the Duke of Lafões his title and properties. The Duke of Lafões never got even with the Marquis of Pombal because deep down he admired him.

When the Duke of Lafões returned to Portugal after his long 22 year trip, he had acquired a vast culture. The Duke recognized that Portugal needed extensive and profound reforms. To develop

these reforms, he created the Royal Academy of Science in Lisbon, and he became its president perpétuo.

The Duke of Lafões also was a “Mason”. He was very influential in the “Grande Oriente de Lisboa”, “Grand Orient of Lisbon” as well as in the “Grand Orient of London”.

José Bonifácio was a distant relative of the Duke of Lafões: they refer to each other as cousins. What caught the Duke’s attention was José Bonifácio’s outstanding performance at Coimbra University as a student. The Duke of Lafões already had recognized José Bonifácio’s great intellectual capacity in 1783, and he was very fond of him.

The Duke of Lafões was instrumental in the decision of the Portuguese government to choose José Bonifácio to be commissioned to go on a scientific journey throughout Europe for a period of ten years (1790 – 1800).

Since José Bonifácio started studying at Coimbra University in 1783, he frequented a circle of the most notable men in Portugal at that time. Among this special group of influential men, José Bonifácio caught the attention of another important figure, Dom Rodrigo Domingos de Souza Coutinho Teixeira de Andrada Barbosa, the future Count of Linhares.

2) Count of Linhares

Dom Rodrigo Domingos de Souza Coutinho Teixeira de Andrada Barbosa (Count of Linhares) was Minister of the Navy in Portugal and a very influential government official when José Bonifácio returned to Portugal at the end of 1800.

The Count of Linhares was a great admirer of José Bonifácio. He recognized his superior intellect and scientific abilities. He was responsible for many of the government nominations and responsibilities which were given to José Bonifácio in Portugal from 1801 to 1808.

The Count of Linhares went to Brazil with the Portuguese Royal Family in 1808 because of the French invasion of Portugal. He died in Brazil in 1812. He was poisoned by his political enemies.

Being a protege of these two very powerful men helped José Bonifácio’s career in Portugal, but in the end, it was José Bonifácio’s outstanding performance that helped him build his reputation as a scientist, scholar, and as a statesman.

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Brazilian Independence)

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Brazilian Independence) was born on June 13, 1763 in Santos, Province of São Paulo, Brazil.

José Bonifácio completed his basic studies in Santos, Brazil. In 1783, when he was twenty years old, he went to Lisbon, Portugal and started his studies at the University of Coimbra where he studied mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, and law.

When José Bonifácio arrived in 1783 in Portugal to study at Coimbra University, he found the University going through a period of major change. These changes had been ordered by the government of the Marquis de Pombal.

He received his philosophy degree on June 16, 1787 and his law degree on June 5, 1788 at the University of Coimbra. José Bonifácio attended some of the best universities of his time, and he visited many of the well-known universities and scientific research centers of Europe. He also studied and did research in the top universities in France, Germany, and Scandinavia.

José Bonifácio was completely fluent in six languages and he understood eleven. He was fluent in Portuguese, English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. He also had complete command of Greek and Latin.

Because José Bonifácio considered himself to be deficient as a speaker, he studied, in depth, Cicero, Tito, Livio, Gibbon, Buffon, and Voltaire.

He traveled extensively throughout Europe from 1790 through 1800. He met a large number of the best scientists of his day, including Fourcroy, Vauquelin, Priestley, Lavoisier, and many others.

José Bonifácio goes on a scientific journey throughout Europe for a period of ten years

(1790 – 1800)

On February 18, 1790, José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva accepted an assignment from the Portuguese government which commissioned him to go on a scientific journey throughout Europe for a period of ten years.

The objective of this commission was to acquire, through these literary travels and philosophic explorations, the latest and most advanced knowledge in the fields of mineralogy and chemistry; and to   further his knowledge in philosophy, and natural history, and to bring this knowledge back to the government of Portugal.

The first stop on his journey was Paris, France where he arrived on May 31, 1790 expecting to settle down to further his studies on chemistry and mineralogy.

Bonifácio’s circle of friends in Paris included some of the intellectual elite of the French Revolution  including Chaptal, Fourcroy, Vauquelin, Lavoisier, Condorcet, Abbe Sieyes, Comte de Mirabeau, and Maximilien Robespierre.

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and the French Revolution

He was in Paris, in the period 1790 through 1792, and he was very interested in the debates of the Convention in Paris. He stayed in Paris until the proclamation of the French Republic in September 1792. During this period, he frequented a very exclusive group of powerful thinkers; some of them had influenced and played a major role in the French Revolution, and others were authorities in their fields of specialization.

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.

In 1801, England had its first census; the census officials estimated England’s population at 8.3 million people compared with France, the largest population of any European country at 26 million people.

The French Revolution had a major impact on world history; it changed the world.

The French had a major impact on Brazilian culture and history; 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 Nicolas Louis 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 de Andrada e Silva used to go on a regular basis to observe the Constitutional Debate in Paris during the period June 1790 to September 1791 at the Constituent Assembly. Then he followed the debates at the Legislative Assembly which was the legislature of France from October 1, 1791 to September 20, 1792, when it was replaced by the National Convention, marking the formal beginning of the (First) Republic.

The Legislative Assembly provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention. And José Bonifácio also participated of the meetings at the Jacobin Club, and he became friends with the most influential thinkers of the French Revolution. He became a friends with people such as, Condorcet, Abbe Sieyes, the Comte de Mirabeau, and Robespierre to name a few.

By the way, Don João VI used to refer to José Bonifácio as: that “Jacobin”.

François Furet is considered to be the most outstanding historian of the French Revolution, and he mentioned in his book, “The French Revolution 1770–1814”, that if the historian wants to single out certain men among that cohort caught up in the tide of events, he can cite Abbé Sieyès, Comte de Mirabeau, and Maximilien Robespierre.

This is an outstanding book regarding the French Revolution, and Mr. Furet explains in detail, in the book, why he picked these three men as the most important figures of the French Revolution:

Abbé Sieyès

“Abbé Sieyès, elected at the last moment by the Paris Third Estate, and the Comte de Mirabeau, spurned by his order but welcomed by the Third Estate of Aix-en-Provence – the thinker and the artist of the Revolution.

Abbé Sieyès was not the greatest man of action of the French Revolution, however, its most profound political thinker.

Sieyès was a priest. Born in Frejus into a modest bourgeois family which was hard put to it to establish its five children, he followed the usual ecclesiastical channels, without any special vocation but as an intellectually gifted child. Taken under the wing of the Jesuits,…where his teachers found nothing to remark on, apart from his ‘sly’ nature, but his insatiable appetite for books.

Ordained a priest in 1772, he had read everything about the philosophy of the Enlightenment, both French and English. The notes he made during those long years of study, preserved in the National Archives, show evidence of an unlimited intellectual appetite, somewhat undisciplined, ranging from literature to metaphysics, art and music, with an special passion for philosophy and political economy; Locke and the physiocrats were the writers whom he constantly read, reread, discussed, challenged, questioned.

Everything in the mechanism of different societies interested the young Sieyès: money, banking, labor, trade, production, property, sovereignty, citizenship – everything, with the exception of history. The basis of his thinking was political, in the widest sense of the word, and conformed to the dominant trend of French Enlightenment philosophy: it was a question of thinking of society in accordance with reason, whereas it offered only the spectacle of unreason. From an early age Sieyès was fanatical about public happiness.

Sieyès laid down the foundations of a theory of representative government, one torn from the start between the inalienable nature of the nation’s rights and the delegated sovereignty of its representatives.

For Sieyès, the nation means the community formed by the association of individuals who decide to live freely under a common law, forged by their representatives. It is the constituent will, the social contract itself in its founding act…

Comte de Mirabeau

Comte de Mirabeau (Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de Mirabeau) B. March 9, 1749 – D. April 2, 1791, French revolutionary and political leader; son of the Marquis Victor de Mirabeau.

Rejected by his own kind, the most despised son of the old nobility had all he needed to become the most brilliant figure in the revolutionary assembly. His talent for oratory, his quick-wittedness, his anger against the past, his temperament – none of which had so far found use.

Mirabeau’s life before 1789 was characterized by wild excesses, which ruined his health and caused him to be repeatedly jailed – several times on the request of his father, with whom he carried on a public quarrel.

The author of numerous pamphlets in which he violently denounced various abuses of the ancien régime, he was elected (1789) a delegate of the third estate for Aix-en-Provence in the States-General. His clear and practical ideas, his fiery eloquence, and his terrifying yet imposing appearance exerted a fascination over the delegates and the populace.

Mirabeau died when he was 42 years old in April 2, 1791 from his health problems.

Maximilien Robespierre

Robespierre’s greatness in the French Revolution – tragic, but unique – was to have gradually assumed power and, for a few months, exercised it.

Maximilien Robespierre is not an easy man to portray, for he had no private life. His existence prior to the Revolution remains rather mysterious simply because it was so commonplace: Maximilien Robespierre appears in Arras as a barrister who has done pretty well, living amid his sister and aunts spoilt, as his sister would say in her memoirs, ‘by a host of little attentions of which only women are capable’. Without deep feeling, holding only the ideas of his era, protected by the women of the family, with a steady clientele, a member of the local academy, he is exact opposite of Mirabeau, and the counterpart of Sieyès: during his ancien regime life he showed no sign of what would turn him into the Revolution’s greatest spokesman.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Marquis de Condorcet

When José Bonifácio returned to Brazil in 1819, he brought with him his library – José Bonifácio’s library was very valuable with over six thousand volumes. In Brazil only the National Library, of which Dom João VI was the founder, was larger than José Bonifácio’s library.

His library included all the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778), his favorite philosopher, which he read and reread many times. He also had all the writings of his second favorite philosopher, the Marquis de Condorcet.

During the years that he lived in Paris, he associated himself with the revolutionary environment and his preference was the groups that believed in the philosophic ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of Condorcet.

He also studied and learned the works of Machiavelli, Descartes, Montesquieu, and Voltaire. But Jean-Jacques Rousseau was José Bonifácio’s favorite philosopher. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy had a major impact on José Bonifácio. In Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” the ideal form of government is the republic, in which the people have total power. Rousseau was the philosopher who had the greatest impact on his generation with his democratic ideology.

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (September 17, 1743 – March 28, 1794), known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public education, constitutionalism, and equal rights for women and people of all races. His ideas and writings were said to embody the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and rationalism, and remain influential to this day.

Condorcet took a leading role when the French Revolution swept France in 1789, hoping for a rationalist reconstruction of society, and championed many liberal causes. As a result, in 1791 he was elected as a Paris representative in the Assembly, and then became the secretary of the Assembly. The institution adopted Condorcet’s design for state education system, and he drafted a proposed Bourbon Constitution for the new France.

José Bonifácio most likely met Cordorcet during this period, when he used to go on a regular basis to see the debate at the Legislative Assembly which was the legislature of France from October 1, 1791 to September 20, 1792.

José Bonifácio’s intellectual perspective was very influenced with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Condorcet, the hailed philosophers of the French Revolution, and through José Bonifácio this influence had a profound effect on the formation of the future nation of Brazil.

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 leader and statesman.

Regarding further French influence in Brazil, we can say that the Brazilian legal and judicial system is based on Roman law, and the Napoleonic Code.

When José Bonifácio lived for a period in London, England, he studied further the ideas of the English philosophers including Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, John Locke, and the economist Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations”.

The World in the Early 1800’s

To help put things in the right perspective, I want to make two important points. First, the journalist/historian James Burke in his television series about world history called Connections gave the viewer some interesting information. In one of the episodes, he mentioned that most people who lived up to the early 1800’s, spent their entire lives never traveling farther than a 25 mile radius from the place where they were born. In other words, most people lived in a small and limited world.

Second, in 1822, the Brazilian population was estimated to be around 4.4 million people. Regarding this figure historians included only 696,000 native Brazilian Indians, since Brazil is a very large country, we probably had at least another 2 million native Brazilian Indians scattered around the country that weren’t accounted for on these population estimates. The white population was around 2.0 million people, and only about 10 percent of them were literate or semi-literate. And very few people had an advanced education.

The percentage of people literate or semi-literate in Brazil improved a little bit by 1890. The census of 1890 in Brazil, shows that out of a total population of 14 million people only 14.8 % were literate or semi-literate.

These points are important because they describe the world in which José Bonifácio was living from 1780 to 1838; where most people lived in this very limited world of 25 miles radius, and the great majority of people were illiterate or semi-literate.

The world population in 1800 was estimated to be less than 1 billion people (the actual estimate was  around 978 million people) as follows:

Asia = 635 million people (65 %)

Europe = 203 million people (21 %)

Africa = 107 million people (11 %)

South America = 14 million people (1.5%)

Mexico/Central America/Caribbean = 10 million people (1.5%)

North America = 7 million people (1 %)

Oceania = 2 million people

Total World population = 978 million people (100 %)

To keep things in the right perspective notice that “The Americas” had only 31 million people (4% of total world population) in 1800.

José Bonifácio was a scientist doing research in the leading edge of science of his time

To help put things in the right perspective again, I want to make two important points. First, the journalist/historian James Burke in his television series about world history called “Connections”, he gave the viewer some interesting information. In one of the episodes, he mentioned that mineralogists,  and geologists in the early 1800’s were considered superstars of the time.

In the world of 1800 scientists – the mineralogists and geologists – such as José Bonifácio, were considered to be the superstars of their world, in the same way that people such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are the superstars of our modern technology world today.

People were fascinated by their knowledge in that field. With new discoveries happening then, that field was considered to be the cutting edge or the state-of-the-art in new knowledge. Some of these scientists were invited to parties by the nobility as the guest of honor, and the highlight of the evening was when they gave a little speech on the subject. Some of them even took their collections of rocks and minerals to show to a delighted audience.

It is not known if José Bonifácio carried around his collection of rocks and minerals, as some of his peers did. He was very proud of his collection, and considered it to be among the best in the world.

From 1790 to 1800 José Bonifácio traveled extensively throughout Europe, and witnessed first hand how different places, and different people, were organized, and how their society operated.

José Bonifácio arrived in France in 1790, to study at the Royal School of Mines in Paris with such famous professors as Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Antoine François Fourcroy, Jean Antoine Chaptal, Abade Hauy, Vauquelin and Antonio Lourenço Jussieu. He studied such subjects as chemistry, botanic, and mineralogy.

When José Bonifácio was studying in Paris, he already was frequenting the scientific circles and presenting scientific papers to them. But his scientific method of research was molded later in Freiberg.

José Bonifácio left France after the proclamation of the French Republic, in September 20, 1792, to move on to the next stop of his journey. He went to Freiberg, in the Saxony Kingdom, to study at the famous Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, the world’s first mining academy. He arrived in Freiberg around October 15, 1792, and started classes at Freiberg University.

The Freiberg University had a very distinguished body of professors including Lempe, Kholler, Klotzch, Freisleben and Lampadius, but what gave Freiberg University its prestige and status was its famous Master Abraham Gottlob Werner. Werner’s fame as a great professor brought students from all over the civilized world to Freiberg. It was Werner’s reputation that built Freiberg University from a small local seminary to an important scientific center.

The Master Werner very seldom gave great reviews to his students. When José Bonifácio finished a course given by Werner, he received an outstanding review from Werner, and that gave José Bonifácio immediate recognition in the scientific community. Whoever understands the organization of the German university system can appreciate the value of that document signed by Werner.

The recognition by Werner that José Bonifácio was profoundly knowledgeable in orictognosia and geognosia, two subjects about which Werner was an authority, and the fact that Werner had recognized the superior intellect and intelligence of José Bonifácio, also helped in raising José Bonifácio’s status in the scientific community. Thanks to Werner, José Bonifácio’s knowledge grew and took shape in the scientific sector, and Werner guided him in the direction where later, he would distinguish himself.

José Bonifácio traveled and studied the mines throughout Europe during this period (1794 to 1796). Then from 1796 to 1798 he studied the mines in the Scandinavian countries; Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. During this period in the Scandinavian countries he did the original scientific research, and made the discoveries which made him famous in the fields of mineralogy, metallurgy, and geology.

He discovered eight new minerals, and identified for the first time four other minerals which were variations of minerals which already had been identified.

José Bonifácio named most of the minerals which he discovered with scientific names, with the exception of one “Wernerite” named in honor of the Master “Abraham Gottlob Werner”.

When José Bonifácio returned to Portugal, after his ten years of studies abroad, he met his two brothers in Lisbon. His two brothers Antonio Carlos and Martim Francisco had recently graduated from Coimbra University with degrees in Law and Philosophy.

In November of 1800, José Bonifácio and Martim Francisco made a mineralogical trip in Portugal, and the results of their findings were reported to the government on a written report.

Martim Francisco returned to Brazil in 1801, and as a general director of Forest and Mines for the State of Sao Paulo, he made various mineralogical trips. In 1803, he explored the Southern part of the State of Sao Paulo. In 1804, he expanded his explorations to the State of Paraná all the way to Curitiba (Curitiba is the capital of the State of Paraná.)

Soon after José Bonifácio returned to Brazil, he asked his brother Martim Francisco if he would like to go on a mineralogical expedition, and research the State of Sao Paulo as they had done in the past in Portugal. Martim Francisco had a similar education, tastes, and the curiosity regarding science and mineralogy which José Bonifácio had. Martim Francisco and José Bonifácio were very close friends; Martim Francisco worshiped his older brother José Bonifácio, and José Bonifácio had great admiration for his younger brother Martim Francisco. They truly enjoyed each other’s company.

They left for this trip on March 23,1820, and kept a very detailed diary describing the state of agriculture, industry, and a detailed description of the minerals which they found on this trip. They arrived in the city of Sao Paulo on April 30, 1820 after traveling approximately 300 miles.

José Bonifácio published many scientific works in Portuguese, French, German, and English. His works are scattered in Europe, and in Brazil. Some of his works are documented at Coimbra University; other works were presented to the various mineralogical, scientific, and historic societies where he was a member in France, England, Germany, Sweden, and Portugal.

Many of his scientific works can be found in an English catalogue, edited by the Royal Society of London, under the name “Catalogue of Scientific Papers (1800 to 1862)”. His papers are registered under the name d’Andrada in the 1867 edition.

Some of José Bonifácio’s work can be found in the following book; “Obras Científicas, Políticas e Sociais de José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva” a reproduction compiled by Edgard de Cerqueira Falcão (Three Volumes).

The writings of José Bonifácio are not limited to political, social and scientific writings. In 1825, when he was in exile in France, he published a book of poetry. This book included poetry which he had been writing over the years; since the days when he was a student at Coimbra University.

José Bonifácio had not only vast general knowledge, but also specialized knowledge. He was outstanding regarding his culture and erudition.

In March 4, 1789, José Bonifácio had been accepted as a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Lisbon.

In 1812, he received a unanimous appointment as Secretary Perpetual of the Royal Academy of Science of Lisbon.

In 1812, José Bonifácio suggested to a commission at the Royal Academy of Science of Lisbon, that they should adopt the decimal metric system, even though it had been a French invention.

By 1815, José Bonifácio had been the Secretary Perpetual of the Royal Academy of Science in Lisbon, and he was a member of the following: Royal Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, of the Research Society of Nature of Berlin, of the Society Mineralogical of Iena, of the Geologic Institute of London, Weneriana of Edimburg, and of the Natural History and Philomathic of Paris.

This article about José Bonifácio covers only his life without analyzing his works and philosophy. To cover his works and philosophy would take a collection of many volumes which is beyond the scope of this article. There is a long list of books written in the last 200 years that discuss José Bonifácio in one way or another. These books cover a variety of subjects; some are favorable to José Bonifácio, and others are critical of him for one reason or another. Two things we have to keep in mind; the period in which the particular book was written, and who wrote the book.

José Bonifácio’s position regarding; 1) Slavery, 2) the Native Brazilian Indians, and 3) Agrarian Reform are well documented. These topics served over the years as a target for criticism from his enemies and other social commentators.

José Bonifácio was a famous European scientist in his day, and was known throughout Europe. When he left Portugal in 1819 to return to Brazil, he was considered the greatest and most famous scientist in Portugal. He arrived in Brazil in late 1819 with a reputation of being a famous European scientist.

José Bonifácio Returns to Portugal in 1800

After traveling extensively throughout Europe for ten years, and accomplishing his assignment with great success, he finally returned to Portugal. When he returned to Portugal at the end of 1800, he was a famous European scientist.

In Portugal, over the years, José Bonifácio accumulated responsibility after responsibility, but he was doing most of this work for free. He was never a burden to the state. He never complained to the state about his delayed salary.

His first job after returning to Portugal was to create a new doctoral degree program of metallurgy at Coimbra University.

In May 1801, he was appointed General Superintendent of Mines and Metals of the Kingdom, and member of the Tribunal of Mines. He was responsible for the mint of the kingdom plus the mines and forests of the Portuguese empire.

In July 1801, he was appointed as administrator responsible for coal mines and the foundry of casting metals of Figuero dos Vinhos and Avelar.

In November 1801, he was appointed director of the Royal Laboratory in Lisbon, and his main responsibility was to remodel the Royal Laboratory, and create a new state-of-the-art research laboratory for chemistry and for metallurgy.

In March 1805, he was appointed chief judge at House of Port (Casa do Pôrto). He did not receive any money for this position until 1819.

In November 10, 1806, the Duke of Lafões, a major benefactor in José Bonifácio’s life, died in Portugal, he was 87 years old at the time of his death.

In July 1807, he was appointed Superintendent of Rio Mondego and the Public Works of Coimbra.

The accumulation of so many positions of responsibility over a short period of time is an indication of his prestige, his competence, and his capacity to carry a heavy load, and perform an outstanding job.

Even though Portugal is a small country, it would be hard for anyone to be a professor at Coimbra University, a Superintendent of Mines and Metals, an administrator of the coal mines and foundry, a director of the Royal Laboratory, responsible for the mint and forests of the Portuguese empire, a judge at Casa do Pôrto, and a Superintendent of Public Works in Coimbra, all at the same time.

José Bonifácio was an idealist, and he believed in doing things for the good of society. His goal was never to become rich or even to live in comfort. He was a man of letters and science. His major goal was to expand the ideas he learned during the days of the convention in France, at the peak of the French Revolution.

French invasions of Portugal Period 1807 – 1811

The French Army invaded Portugal three times during the period 1807 to 1811. The first invasion in 1807, under the command of General Junot. The second invasion in 1809, under the command of Marshal Nicolau Soult, Duke of Dalmacia. And the third invasion in 1810, under the command of  Marshal Andre Massena, Duke of Rivoli

In November 30, 1807, under orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, General Junot invaded Portugal. The day before the French invasion the Portuguese Royal Family with about 4,000 nobles left Portugal to go to Brazil.

José Bonifácio was asked to go, but he decided to stay in Portugal because he knew that they would need his expertise in metallurgy and chemistry in the war effort against the French forces.

On January 22, 1808, the refugee Portuguese Royal Family, and the Portuguese court, arrived in Salvador, Bahia, and soon after they left for Rio de Janeiro, where they stayed until April of 1821.

José Bonifácio began as a Major in 1808, but was promoted during the fight to Tenent-Colonel, and finally to Colonel. He fought under the army commander Marshal William Carr, Viscount of Beresford, who was replaced in August of 1808 by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

These three French invasions of Portugal, were the training ground for the Duke of Wellington which helped him in 1815 to defeat Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo.

José Bonifácio was arrogant and fearless, and that combination made him a great commander under the Duke of Wellington, when they did beat the French armies on three different French invasions of Portugal from 1808 to 1811. And José Bonifácio received many honors during that time for his bravery during the battles, and some of the honors even mentioned that it was a miracle that he had survived these battles; because he was always one of the first people charging against the enemies on the front lines.

They have all documented, and it is on the record about all these battles, and they have documented how José Bonifácio came very close from getting killed in battle a number of times; he earned many honors as a great warrior. He was always in the frontlines, and was one of the first ones to charge against the enemy, and he was an inspiration to his battalion.

They had three French invasions of Portugal, the first one in November 19, 1807, by General Andouche Junot, and the day before the French forces reached Lisbon, the Portuguese Royal Family with 4,000 nobles left Portugal to go to Brazil.

On August 1, 1808, British forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington landed in Portugal, and they defeated Junot’s army in two battles; the first at Rolica on August 17, 1808, and the second at Vimiero on August 21, 1808. The Duke of Wellington’s army with the Portuguese brigade defeated the French, and the French suffered over 2,000 casualties and the British about 700.

On March 1809, there was a second French invasion under Marshall Nicolau Soult Duke of Dalmacia with his 70,000 men. On March 20, 1809, in the Battle of Braga, the French veterans butchered their adversaries. The outmatched Portuguese lost 4,000 killed and 400 captured. The French, who lost 40 killed and 160 wounded, also seized 17 Portuguese cannons.

On May12, 1809, the Duke of Wellington with his Portuguese allies surprised Marshall Nicolau Soult and his army at Porto. The French were sent flying out of town, abandoning guns, and supplies, as well as chests of gold. The French retreated for a second time into Spain.

In the battle for Porto, the French had lost around 300 killed or wounded, with almost as many again taken prisoner. More than 1,500 sick and wounded had been left in the city’s hospitals, and some 70 guns had been abandoned. British losses amounted to just 123 killed, wounded or missing.

In August 1810, there was a third French invasion, this time the French army was commanded by Marshall Andrea Massena, Duke of Rivoli. Wellington thought very highly of Massena, and he was considered to be one of the best French generals. Wellington thought that only Napoleon himself was a better army commander than Massena.

Massena had 65,000 men against the British 25,000 men plus 25,000 Portuguese men. The day after the battle on September 27, 1810, they counted 4,500 casualties for the French, and 1,252 casualties equally divided between the British and Portuguese.

On April 10, 1811, Wellington announced that the French army had retreated to Spain for a third time, and in the process the French had suffered heavy losses of over 25,000 men.

Period 1812 to 1819 in Portugal

Of all the colonies in the Americas, Brazil was the only one to which a European prince came to rule before independence. The presence of the royal family set Brazil apart from the other American colonies (French, English, Dutch and Spanish) in many ways, especially in transforming it from a colony into the center of power in the Portuguese empire.

Prince Dom João loved Brazil from the start, and he had factories built, established a royal museum, a medical school, a botanical garden, a new newspaper, and later established the Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1815, Dom João raised Brazil to the rank of kingdom, coequal to Portugal. For Brazil this was a crucial step, and Brazilians were determined never again to return to the status of a colony. After his mother’s death in 1816, Prince Regent Dom João had his coronation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and he became King João VI.

On January 26, 1812, the Count of Linhares, the other benefactor in José Bonifácio’s life, died in Brazil.

José Bonifácio was very unhappy in Portugal, since the death of the Count of Linhares in 1812. Because of his liberal ideas, he had made many enemies in Portugal, and his enemies made his life very difficult.

During the years he was living in Europe, José Bonifácio also had to participate in four duels, on four separate occasions, to defend his honor, in which his adversaries lost their lives. One of José Bonifácio’s nephews claimed that it was seven duels that José Bonifácio had participated.

José Bonifácio requested permission from Dom João a number of times between 1810 and 1818 to return to Brazil, but he was too valuable in Portugal. King João VI gave authorization for his return only in October 29, 1818.

José Bonifácio and his family (his wife Narcisa O’Leary de Andrada, his daughter Gabriela Frederica Ribeiro de Andrada, and a baby that he had adopted in that year, the baby’s name was Narcisa Candida, and she was under a year old) left Portugal on August 19, 1819, to return to Brazil.

José Bonifácio Returns to Brazil in 1819

José Bonifácio arrived in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil before the end of 1819, after being away for thirty six years, of which he lived twenty six years in Portugal. He was fifty six years old, which was considered old for that time. During José Bonifácio’s lifetime (June 13, 1763 to April 6, 1838), the life expectancy at that time ranged from 37 to 40-years old

José Bonifácio was solely responsible for the independence and unity of Brazil in 1822. His brother Martim Francisco also did an outstanding job as Finance Minister, and he is credited with the plan which was put in place to finance the Brazilian army and navy during the independence effort. Without José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva in Brazilian history, Brazil would have split itself into 5 or 6 independent countries in the 1820’s.

Most people don’t know enough about Brazilian history, and its details to appreciate the reasons why José Bonifácio (the founding father of Brazil) is considered the most important figure in Brazilian history. There is no other person in Brazilian history who comes close to José Bonifácio in the impact that he had on the history of the country.

To demonstrate José Bonifácio’s importance to the history of Brazil, we can say that José Bonifácio was responsible for the unification of Brazil in 1822. It was José Bonifácio’s statesmanship ability that united the country which we call Brazil. The country that he united in 1822 is almost the same size as the country that we have today. Since 1822 Brazil gained just a little and lost a little territory.

There was no unity in Brazil in 1822 or before 1822. The north of Brazil had better communications with Europe than with Rio de Janeiro. — He unified a very large country with his exceptional political savvy and statesmanship skills, with a small army, with a small navy and with almost no bloodshed, when compared with other major revolutions of that time such as the French Revolution, and the American Revolution.

If José Bonifácio had made a single mistake during that very delicate turning point in Brazilian history, the result would have been disastrous for Brazil. If they had to fight multiple rebellions for independence from the north to the south of Brazil, then everything could have gotten out of control, and their small army and navy would not have a single chance to keep the new nation together. (Remember, Brazil was too large to be controlled with this small army and navy with the communication, and transportation systems available in Brazil in 1822.) If that had happened the result would have been disastrous, and Brazil would have been split into five or six independent countries at that point.

In 1621, Maranhão became a separate colony of Portugal, because it was easier to maintain communications from Maranhão in the north of Brazil with Lisbon, in Portugal, than with the capital of Brazil, São Salvador, in the Captaincy of Bahia. The new colony of Portugal included most of the Captaincies north and west of Cabo São Roque, and included parts of Ceará, Piauí, Maranhão, Pará and Amazonas. This colony was never prosperous.

In 1822, at the time of the Brazilian independence from Portugal, the north of Brazil was precariously connected to the south. The king of Portugal preferred to keep the Captaincies ( States) isolated, and ignorant of one another. Royal edicts of 1614 and 1620 prohibited a governor-general from one Captaincy to visit another Captaincy in Brazil, without permission from Portugal.

To put things in the right perspective let’s review some facts, and some other events, which where happening around the 1820’s. The United States in 1820, was a country half of today’s size. The United States consisted of its thirteen original states. It had also acquired a new piece of land by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, and Florida in 1819 from Spain. Even if we added the newly purchased lands to the United States, the U.S. still was half of the size of Brazil in 1822, the time of Brazilian independence.

The United States had to fight an independence war in 1776, to achieve the independence of its thirteen original states. U.S. independence was achieved with bloodshed, and suffering for American colonists. By contrast, Brazilian independence was achieved with very little bloodshed because of José Bonifácio’s statesmanship abilities.

José Bonifácio was aware of the disintegration of the Spanish empire in the Americas, that was in progress. Spanish America disintegrated into eight separate and independent countries during the period 1810 to 1830.

Spanish America broke up into various republics, and their independence was as follows: Paraguay (1811), Argentina (1816), Chile (1818), Colombia (1819), Ecuador (1822), Peru (1824), Bolivia (1825), and Venezuela (1830). The independence of these countries from Spain was accomplished with a twenty year civil war in that region of South America, and split Spanish America into eight independent republics. Uruguay got its independence in 1828 from Brazil.

The independence process

King Dom João VI enjoyed his life in Brazil, and he loved Rio de Janeiro. The French had long been expelled from Portugal, and Napoleon’s fate had been sealed for good, but Dom João VI wanted to stay in Brazil, and he had no desire to return to Portugal to the constant intrigues of the Portuguese Cortes.

European events finally forced the monarch’s return to Portugal. In the year 1820, there was a rash of rebellions against absolute monarchies in Europe. Inspired by these revolts, Portuguese liberals rebelled in Oporto late in 1820, and demanded a constitution. The movement spread to Lisbon, and Dom João VI was faced with the choice of returning to Portugal to fight for his crown or of losing it. Reluctantly, he chose to return.

In April 26, 1821, King João VI, the Royal family, and the Portuguese court, left Brazil to return to Portugal, but the King left his oldest son, Prince Dom Pedro (October 12, 1798 – September 24, 1834) as the Regent in Brazil. The Prince was only 22 years old, and lacked any formal education, since he was very young, he always disliked studying. He spent most of his time riding horses, and playing with his bulls.

When Dom João VI left Brazil with over four thousand people, these people had wealth, and when all of them withdrew their assets from Banco do Brazil at the same time, they left the bank in a very difficult, and poor financial situation.

After arriving in Portugal in mid 1821, Dom João VI found himself completely powerless. He had even less power than the Prince Regent, who had been left in Brazil. He had lost all of his executive powers, and the Portuguese government was reacting against everything he had done in Brazil in the last thirteen years.

The Portuguese Parliament called the Cortes Gerais de Portugal (Cortes), for all its professed liberalism, favored a constitutional monarchy. The members were extremely hostile toward Brazil, and determined that Brazil should be deprived of its coequal status with Portugal. The members of the Cortes attempted to abolish the privileges granted by Dom João VI, and devise other ways to weaken Brazil. They passed a number of measures to accomplish that goal. The Cortes commanded that Dom Pedro’s ministers be appointed from Lisbon, and in late 1821, the Cortes ordered Dom Pedro to return to Portugal to complete his education.

By the end of 1821, the Prince was ready to leave, and return to Portugal to comply with the orders received from the Cortes. José Bonifácio played a major role in convincing the Prince to stay in Brazil. The Prince changed his mind, and decided to stay in Brazil defying the Cortes’ orders.

On April 23, 1821, before the King had left Brazil, when the people were meeting in São Paulo, they decided to have elections, and form a provisory government in São Paulo. They chose José Bonifácio to be the speaker. José Bonifácio told them that it was an honor for him to preside over the elections of the provisory government. He told them that for the happiness of his motherland he would make any sacrifice, and he would even spill the last drop of his blood.

José Bonifácio chose for President of São Paulo, João Carlos Augusto de Ocynhausen. The people’s reply was very cold, and the people requested that José Bonifácio accept at least the position of Vice-President.

After José Bonifácio accepted the position, they continued with the elections until all the new government members were selected. A brother of José Bonifácio (Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada) was chosen as Interior and Finance Minister of the new government of São Paulo. Among the six deputies (deputados) who were elected to serve at the Cortes in Lisbon, was another brother of José Bonifácio (Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Andrada Machado).

Antônio Carlos had just been released from prison, and was lucky to be alive after he participated in 1817, in a republican and Mason revolution in Pernambuco.

In a letter dated July 17, 1821, from the Prince Dom Pedro to his father the king, he mentioned the elections in São Paulo, and he told his father that José Bonifácio was the Vice-President, and that they owed to him the fact that they had tranquility in the Province of Sao Paulo.

In decree of October 1, 1821, the Cortes requested the immediate return of the Prince to Portugal, and they ordered the Captaincies to report directly to Lisbon, instead of Rio de Janeiro.

On December 9, 1821, an order from the Cortes was received in Rio de Janeiro to elect a government junta, and to accelerate the return of the Prince to Portugal.

The Prince wrote back to his father on the same day saying; “as soon they elect the new junta, I will turn over the government, and will return immediately to Portugal as per your decree. I will take even the Fragata União, because from this day on, I don’t want to have any influence in the Brazilian affairs.”

The Captaincy of Pará and Maranhão in the north of Brazil answered directly to Lisbon, and not to Rio de Janeiro. After the radical changes by the Cortes, cutting completely Dom Pedro’s authority, Brazil was without an effective central government. Not the Regent or the junta or anyone had real authority in Brazil.

The Captaincy of Pará submitted a request to become a province of Portugal. The Captaincy of Bahia governed by a junta of six Portugueses, and three Brazilians, requested from Portugal that they send more Portuguese soldiers. After the new soldiers arrived, the Portuguese got stronger in the Province of Bahia.

When the order of the Cortes arrived saying that Bahia, Pará, Maranhão, Pernambuco and Minas Gerais should communicate directly with Lisbon, Dom Pedro wrote to his father saying that he was happy to be the Governor of only Rio de Janeiro.

José Bonifácio did not waste any time. He sent people from São Paulo to agitate the people in Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Goiás, and Mato Grosso. He found out that the people from these provinces were also loyal Brazilians.

On December 24, 1821, José Bonifácio wrote a very nasty and violent letter to Dom Pedro describing his thoughts regarding the actions taken by the Portuguese Cortes. He listed the Cortes’ actions item by item and told Dom Pedro “you stay on our side, or do not doubt for a second we will get the arms to fight for our independence from Portugal”. He also wrote; “If you accept the Cortes decree of September 29, 1821, you will lose not only your dignity as a man, but also as a Prince. You will turn yourself into a slave of the Cortes, and you will be responsible under heaven for the river of blood which will run in Brazil”.

The letter was delivered to Dom Pedro in Rio de Janeiro on January 1, 1822 at 8:00 PM. The letter made Dom Pedro very happy, because that was the first sign that he was wanted in Brazil, and the possibility that if he stayed in Brazil, he might be their new king. Dom Pedro called a trusted friend, and gave him a copy of this letter from José Bonifácio. He asked this friend to show the letter around to all trusted Brazilian patriots. It was a mission done well.

José Bonifácio sent a letter to the government in Minas Gerais asking them to join São Paulo in the coming fight for independence. They received the letter on January 8, 1822, and on the same day they sent the answer that they would stand by José Bonifácio when the fighting began.

Dom Pedro wrote to his father to inform him that São Paulo had rejected all orders from the Cortes, and that they had Minas Gerais on their side. He also wrote ” José Bonifácio is writing to all the provinces. What am I supposed to do?  The opinion is all against the Cortes everywhere.”

Pressed to stay in Brazil on January 9, 1822, Dom Pedro declared: “FICO” – “I Will Remain.”

José Bonifácio arrived in Rio de Janeiro on January 17, 1822, and on the same day Dom Pedro asked him to be his Prime Minister. Never before had there been a Brazilian Minister, José Bonifácio was the first Brazilian to rise to the position of Minister.

José Bonifácio created the situation which ended with the “FICO.” Before the “FICO” Dom Pedro always had good relations with the Andrada family, and he had great admiration and respect for José Bonifácio.

Dona Leopoldina, wife of Dom Pedro also admired José Bonifácio, and she was his very good friend. Dona Leopoldina was Archduchess Leopoldina Josépha Carolina of Hapsburg, daughter of the Austrian Emperor, sister of Marie Louise Bonaparte, and niece of Marie Antoinette. She was kind hearted, intelligent, and the Brazilians loved her.

José Bonifácio’s Rise to Power

The Prince Dom Pedro asked José Bonifácio to be his Prime Minister, but José Bonifácio refused the offer. The Prince insisted that José Bonifácio accept his offer. José Bonifácio told the Prince that he would accept the position only when allowed to impose his unlimited authority. The task at hand was to define the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity within the national objectives at the time of the birth of the new nation. José Bonifácio also needed to properly fit together a number of policies dealing with anti-colonialism, non-intervention, self-determination, free trade, social policy, and peace. To accomplish all of these at the same time required unlimited powers.

Dom Pedro did not hesitate. He armed José Bonifácio with the highest level of authority possible. The investiture of José Bonifácio carried with it, the most extensive powers that any minister had in the history of the imperial or republican Brazil.

Dom Pedro I made two very important decisions regarding Brazil: 1) the “FICO” and 2) he picked José Bonifácio to be his Prime Minister, and armed him with unlimited power.

José Bonifácio was not about money; he didn’t care about money, and he had many opportunities over the years to get all kinds of land and tittles, in Portugal, and in Brazil, and he turned them down every time. If he wanted, he could have been the first Emperor of Brazil, but he turned down a number of times the offers from Dom Pedro, first in 1822, and later when Dom Pedro abdicated in 1828, since he didn’t want to be Emperor of Brazil.

I need to remind the readers that José Bonifácio’s life doesn’t include two important aspects of modern life today; greed and materialism. José Bonifácio never cared for material things, money or noble titles, and things of this sort. He was interested in science, and the well being of society. He was a humanist, a social thinker, and a great statesman. He followed a high ethical standard for all of his life. He was a very honest man. He had integrity, honor, and many other high qualities which are missing in many leaders around the world today.

Among other things José Bonifácio’s arrogance, and superior intellect that compelled him to be the architect of Brazilian independence, and write most of the documents that gave the foundations for Brazilian independence – one of these documents still considered the most important document in Brazilian history.

When José Bonifácio participated in the provisory government of São Paulo, he prepared a document that was signed by the members of the provisory government on October 9, 1821, called “Lembranças e Apontamentos”. This document might be the most important document in the history of reforms in Brazil. The document provided a complete master plan for the new nation, and covered in detail all the necessary building blocks of social, political and economic life.

José Bonifácio had the greatest authority ever giving to anyone in Brazil. In the history of Brazil, never before or after José Bonifácio, a person had so much authority, and accomplished so much.

José Bonifácio was responsible for the creation of the Brazilian army and navy. First, he hired a French general called General Pedro Labatut to head and help organize the army.

Second, he asked the Marquês de Barbacena, the Brazilian diplomatic agent in London, to hire English officers and sailors for the new Brazilian navy. Barbacena following the request, hired and sent to Brazil around four hundred men. He suggested to José Bonifácio the name of Admiral Cochrane to head the navy. He was a great Admiral; greedy, audacious, loved adventure, was not afraid of taking risks; however, he was a man without scruples.

José Bonifácio learned that Lord Thomas Cochrane was very unhappy with the Chilean government, which he had helped with their independence. The Chilean government owed money to Cochrane, but he was having a problem receiving the money.

José Bonifácio sent a letter dated November 4, 1822, to the Brazilian consul in Buenos Aires, requesting him to offer Lord Cochrane twelve thousand patacões (currency of the time) per year, also as part of the deal, the Brazilian government would take responsibility for the Chilean debt of sixty thousand patacões which Cochrane was having a problem collecting.

José Bonifácio knew that he needed a navy to be able to unite Brazil. He organized the Ministry of Navy after the independence on September 7, 1822. He asked Lord Cochrane to take the position of First Admiral, and made an agreement in which he would stay in that position until Portugal recognized the independence of Brazil, and he would help in the defense of the new country.

Lord Cochrane brought with him some other British officers, among them, Norton, Greenfel, Crosby, Shepperd and Jewett. Some of these British officers died defending Brazil.

The army and the navy played an important role by beating the Portuguese army and navy, when they engaged in battle. There was some bloodshed, but it was kept to a minimum. The situation was so explosive that any minor miscalculation at that point, would have turned into a nasty civil war in Brazil from north to south.

José Bonifácio’s major accomplishment in Brazil was the consolidation of the independence with national sovereignty, political unity and territorial integrity.

Thank you, to José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Independence) for the legacy he left to future Brazilian generations. His legacy is “Brazil” the country itself.

Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved.

By: Ricardo C. Amaral

Author / Economist

He can be reached at:



Most of the above information is from my book “José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva – The Greatest Man in Brazilian History”, plus various blogs of mine, and a number of postings that I made in the Internet over the years regarding this subject.

On my book, I have all the footnotes citing sources of material.

The above information about the “Marquis of Pombal”, some of the information was quoted from my book, and some information from Wikipedia.

The above information about the “Marquis de Condorcet”, the source was Wikipedia.

Further information  about the Andrada family:

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”.

José Bonifácio, at the end of his life he was very sick and spent most of his time tutoring his youngest daughter and he died from cancer in April 6, 1838. But the influence of the Andrada family had not diminished, and his brothers Antonio Carlos and Martin Francisco were the most important figures that forced the emancipation of Dom Pedro II, to become the second Emperor of Brazil in 1840 – and Antonio Carlos became the new Prime Minister, and Martin Francisco became the Finance Minister for the second time.

Martim Francisco did an outstanding job as Finance Minister in 1822, and he is credited with the plan which was put in place to finance the Brazilian army and navy during the independence effort. He is considered to be the first great financier in Brazilian history, and he served as Finance Minister for a second time in 1840.

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Brazilian Independence), his brother Martim Francisco, and later my great-great-grandfather José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (O Moço) were all considered great abolitionists, and they set up the framework to end slavery in Brazil.

My great-great-grandfather José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (O Moço) – they called him O Moço to distinguish him from his grandfather José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (O Patriarch of Independence).


Brazzil Magazine – February 2005

“Brazil, the Original Leader of the Americas – Part I”

Written by Ricardo C. Amaral


Brazzil Magazine – February 2005

“Brazil, the Original Leader of the Americas – Part II”

Written by Ricardo C. Amaral


The Andrada Dynasty


Andrada a Family of Revolutionaries


Brazzil Magazine – January 2003

“The Brazilian Ruling Class”

Written by Ricardo C. Amaral




My gratitude and thanks, to my ancestors: José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (The Patriarch of Independence), his brother Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada, and José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (O Moço/ The Younger) for their major contributions to Brazilian history.


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