Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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BRAZIL. This South American empire is of yesterday. Formerly a Portuguese colony Brazil has had an independent existence only since Sept. 7, 1821. Its constitution dates from March 25, 1824.


—Brazil, discovered in 1500 by Pedro Alvares Cabral, belonged continuously to the crown of Portugal until the Brazilians, with the spontaneous concurrence of the regent Dom Pedro, the immediate heir of the house of Braganza, proclaimed and won their independence, which was subsequently ratified by a treaty, concluded with Portugal. Since that treaty, dated Aug. 29, 1825, a separation has been effected de facto and de jure, and the new American monarchy has been recognized by all the powers, with its chief Dom Pedro I. as constitutional emperor and perpetual protector of Brazil.


—The entire surface of Brazil is estimated at 3,275,326 English square miles. Brazil is watered by numerous rivers. Nearly all of these are navigable or capable of being made so. The principal one is the Amazon. Owing to these rivers which fertilize the soil and bear its products to the sea, to the vast extent of its coasts and to its splendid harbors, Brazil's relations with the civilized world are destined to increase and grow in importance from day to day.


—The resources of the country are as rich and abundant as they are varied. It has magnificent forests which will furnish for centuries the rarest and most exquisite wood for dyeing purposes, for cabinet makers' work, building. and for all the uses of industry, and of the arts and sciences. It is also extremely rich in agricultural products. Coffee, sugar, cocoa, cotton and tobacco, are produced in abundance in this favored land, the population of which, still unfortunately too sparse, receives with eagerness the fruits of the genius of Europe as well as the agricultural products of its temperate zone.


—All that Brazil wants is a population more nearly in proportion to its extent, and that would furnish to agriculture the hands it needs, and to foreign commerce buyers to increase its exports; that is to say, it needs producers and consumers. This immense territory, which could easily maintain 200,000,000 people, has a population of only 9,448,233 (1872).


—This population concentrated in the large cities of the coast, is divided among 20 provinces, only 4 of which do not border directly upon the Atlantic ocean.


—These 4 provinces of the interior are: Amazon, Matto-Grosso, Goyas, and Minas-Geraës. This last province is the most populous of the empire. It contains 1,500,000 inhabitants. Gold and diamond mining has attracted thither and kept there for a long time a considerable number of workmen. The other 3 central provinces, almost entirely covered with virgin forests, contain altogether, according to the census of 1872, 280,000 inhabitants.


—The maritime provinces, in their order from north to south on the map, are: Para, Maranham, Pianhi, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Parahyba, Pernambuco, Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, Espiritu-Santo, Rio Janeiro, Saô-Paolo, Parana, Santa-Catharina, Rio Grande do Sul.


—Four of these provinces alone contain nearly one-half the population of Brazil. They are: Rio Janeiro, 1,050,000; Bahia, 1,450,000; Pernambuco, 841,000; Saô Paolo, 837,354. The capitals of the first 3 principal provinces are the 3 great seaports of Brazil, where the population is very dense. Rio Janeiro, the capital, had a population of 274,972 in 1872. The province of Saô Paolo also has its port, Santos, which has a rapid growth; but the population increases faster in this province, principally on account of its magnificent coffee plantations, where experiments of free labor have been tried with doubtful success at first, but which it appears must result favorably.


—Three races contribute to the population of Brazil, in unequal proportions. The white race, mainly made up of natives of Portuguese origin, constitute a majority of the inhabitants. The black race, of African origin, was composed in 1872 of freemen and slaves. The number of the latter was not given by any official returns. It was placed at one-fourth of the population. A law of 1871 has opened the way for emancipation of the slaves, and after a time all the blacks will be free.


—The red race, indigenous to the soil, has a very small place in the total of the population. The Indians are either domesticated or savage The first, converted with great difficulty by the missionaries, inhabit small villages (aldéas) where they perform rude labor very unwillingly, ready as they are at the slightest pretext to go back to forest life. Others, in greater numbers, lead a savage life. Save with rare exceptions, there is no progress observable among these tribes. Thus, in South as well as in North America, the red race is on the road to extinction.


—The mixture of these three races has produced in Brazil an infinite variety of colors and all the shades of complexion which arise from the mingling of blood in every degree. Even the yellow race is not wanting there, since certain attempts at Chinese colonization have been made. But another element, which has also come from abroad, is of more value to the physical and mental improvement of the population: we mean the European element. Not all Europeans who settle in Brazil intend to become Brazilians. Many desire to return, and preserve their nationality with care. These last live in the cities, are occupied in wholesale and retail trade, and in manufacturing. They contribute to the prosperity of the empire by their capital, their spirit of enterprise or their industrial power. The beauty of the climate, the cheapness of living, the connections and relations which a long residence creates, often cause them to forget their native country which is replaced in their affections by their adopted one.


—But without taking these numerous exceptions into account, there is in Brazil at present, a considerable number of Europeans who have come to seek in the new world, in return for their labor, the prosperity which the old world did not give them. These immigrations, made without thought of leaving the country again, have assumed considerable proportions. The principal current between Brazil and Europe is that which starts from Portugal. This ancient country, while losing its dominion over Brazil, has preserved its relations and affinities with it. Thus the Portuguese in Brazil are numerous; in the cities of the coast they are artisans, and the retail business is partly in their hands—a fact which rouses some what violent Jealousies in the Brazilian people, which from time to time give rise to disturbances, quelled only with some difficulty by the police. In these times of crisis, it is the recollection of the old tyranny of the mother country which causes the populace to assail these unfortunate people, whose only fault is that they bring more activity and intelligence than the natives do to the lower walks of commercial life and industry.


—It is not in the cities alone that the Portuguese settle; and Brazil is indebted to them for an exceptional class of colonists. The north of the empire, that is to say, the portion nearest the equator, is uninhabitable for nearly all Europeans, on account of the prevailing heat. The Portuguese alone, especially the Portuguese of the Azores, are able to endure this torrid climate, and the few attempts at colonization which have succeeded in the equatorial provinces have had the Portuguese element as a basis. Where enterprises of this kind have failed, notably on the banks of the Amazon, the failure has come, not from the heat of the sun, which the native of the Azores endures to a marvel, but from the insalubrity of the climate and the pestiferous evaporations of the soil covered with slime and marshes.


—The colonists of German and Swiss origin form, after the Portuguese, the most considerable element of European immigration. It is in the south of the empire, in comparatively temperate latitudes, from the south tropical border to 33° of south latitude, that German colonization has met with the greatest success. In the province of Rio Grande do Sul there is a whole city, of 10,000 souls, peopled almost entirely by Germans, who are very prosperous. Its success is so complete that at the present time, without any effort on the part of the government, but by the sole instigation of the colonists, who have maintained their relations with the mother country, a stream of emigration is kept up between this province and Germany, so that land is becoming scarce in Rio Grande for new colonists who come of their own accord to acquire it. The province of Saint Catherine, until recently almost covered with forests, is beginning to be inhabited by Germans, thanks to the initiative of the prince de Joinville, who has prepared and opened to colonization the immense domains given as dowry to his wife, the sister of the emperor Dom Pedro II. This enterprise seems on the road to success. Other colonies are springing up by the side of Dona Francisca. The government is constructing ways of communication which will afford an outlet to the products of these virgin lands.


—In the neighboring province of Saô Paolo, the Swiss element predominates in the work of colonization. At all times the intelligent and industrious population of this province has cultivated coffee on a large scale. Certain very rich and enlightened landholders have had the idea of introducing free labor in the cultivation of their plantations. They have brought in Swiss colonists by making arrangements with them, based on the system of shares, in use in the south of Europe. The attempts did not succeed completely at first; it is evident that the system of working on shares is not the final form of colonization in Brazil, and that in order to attract European immigration it is necessary to offer it the inducement of ownership.


—To these three classes of emigrants must be added a small number of Belgians and Italians. The French are barely numerous enough to be mentioned among the colonists. Except in a few cantons of the Pyrenees, where the stream of emigration is turned toward the La Plata, the French people do not abandon their homes, and if they do emigrate it is to cities and with the intent of returning.


Constitution. The fundamental law of Brazil did not originate with a constituent assembly. In proclaiming its independence, the Brazilian nation proclaimed monarchy as its form of government, and as its monarch Dom Pedro I., eldest son and legitimate heir of the head of the house of Braganza, Dom Joâo VI., king of Portugal. It was now necessary to draw up a constitution.


—This was the time when the old and new world were in a ferment; when the first attempts of Italian liberty had failed; when Spain and Portugal given up to adventure were still debating in sovereign assemblies over the most arduous problems of the government of empires. Common sense was rarely present at these deliberations.


—In Brazil the difficulties peculiar to the country still increased the dangers arising from the general situation. On a single point the immense majority of the nation had taken an irrevocable decision. They had determined to crush the monopoly of the mother country, to separate themselves for ever from Portugal, and to govern themselves by the chief whom they had chosen. But the mother country did not consent to yield its rich colonial prey without a struggle. War broke out on land and sea between Brazil and Portugal. Besides, an entire army of officials lived in the empire, regretting the past which had honored and enriched them, and little disposed to open the way to new ideas which for them meant new men in their stead. These champions of a fallen régime, through the position which they occupied and their personal weight, were not without influence.


—It is under these circumstances, and with these elements to deal with, that the emperor Dom Pedro I. was called to give a constitution to Brazil. He set about the task without delay A short time after the proclamation of independence a constituent assembly was convoked at Rio Janeiro.


—It soon became evident that this attempt, honestly undertaken, could have no useful result. To begin with, the assembly adopted all the methods of demagogues; the whole country was given over to a feverish agitation, and the emperor having tried in vain to restore quiet by changing his ministry, decided on a coup d'élat. He had the house of representatives surrounded by troops, the doors closed, and announced by a proclamation to the Brazilian people, that the assembly was dissolved and that another chamber, to be called later, would deliberate on the plan of a constitution which the emperor would lay before them, and which would give the surest guarantees for the liberties of the nation.


—This engagement was only half carried out. There was not a new constituent assembly, but the emperor granted a constitution which was submitted for approval to the nation, which was accepted unanimously by the municipalities, and which, on the demand of the elective bodies, was promulgated March 24, 1824, as the supreme law of the empire. The method, indeed, was not regular; but Brazil was so steeped in anarchy that the act was accepted with thankful enthusiasm, and no protest came after the event, not even when the chiefs of the dissolved assembly came later into power.


—It must not be forgotten here that the works of Benjamin Constant were consulted by Dom Pedro I. in drawing up the constitution, and that the machinery put in movement by that constitution, and the original points which it contains, were thought out by the fertile and ingenious brain of that man, who, by reason of his habits of opposition, one could not have believed endowed with common sense to such a degree. Better inspired than Rousseau, who, ruled by socialistic instinct, offered the people only impossible constitutions, Benjamin Constant, enlightened by experience and by his fertile intelligence, applied himself to the solution of problems raised up by practice, and there he succeeded. By adopting the ideas of the old French parliamentarian, by adapting his plan to the genius of the Brazilian nation, Dom Pedro I. performed an act of sovereign good sense, and immortalized his reign.


—We have not to speak here of the numerous points in which the Brazilian constitution resembles all other constitutions past and present. The important thing is to note the points in which it differs from them, and what are the original points which it presents. Brazil is a monarchical state. To the title of constitutional emperor, the head of the state adds that of perpetual protector of Brazil, an appellation connected with the historical position of the time when the struggle with Portugal was still unfinished and which imposed upon the emperor, the heir of the house of Braganza, the irrevocable duty of maintaining the separation between the two countries. Essentially a Catholic nation, Brazil has a state religion, and, as in certain European monarchies, the rules of the council of Trent regulate the civil status of the citizens. But the necessities of colonization have in this respect brought about a reform, in so far as civil marriage is concerned, which must in time be completed. Constitutions generally admit but three powers: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. The constitution of Brazil recognizes a fourth: the moderating power, which is assigned exclusively to the chief of the state. It defines in these terms (article 98) the function of this power: "The moderating power is the keystone of the whole political edifice; it is delegated exclusively to the emperor, as supreme chief of the nation and its first representative, in order that he should watch incessantly over the upholding of its independence, and the equilibrium and harmony of the other powers."


—This power is exercised without the aid of ministers and under the following circumstances, enumerated in article 101: nomination of senators according to form prescribed by the constitution; convocation extraordinary of the general assembly; sanction of the decrees of the same assembly; approval or suspension of the resolutions of the provincial chambers; prorogation or adjournment of the general assembly; dissolution of the chamber of deputies; nomination or dismissal of ministers; suspension of magistrates in cases provided for by the constitution; exercise of the right of pardon or mitigation of punishment; exercise of the right of amnesty.


—These attributes of the moderating power, if examined closely, are connected with the exercise of the very prerogatives of the monarch whom they free from all ministerial pressure. When, for example, the chief of the state wishes to change his ministry he should be free to do it without obtaining the signature of the members whom he dismisses. All these acts, by which he exercises the moderating power, have the same character, and the innovation noted in the constitution of Brazil seems intended to put in practice the celebrated maxim The king reigns but does not govern.


—But the moderating power, although outside of ministerial action, is not exercised without control. The council of state, established by the fundamental pact, is called upon to give its advice in every case in which the emperor undertakes to exercise any of the prerogatives peculiar to the moderating power, and the constitution declares the members of the council of state responsible for the advice which they give. Parallel with this responsibility is the guarantee of permanence in office, or irremovability granted to these high functionaries.


—This institution is held to be the highest in Brazil. In the Imperial Almanac, the council of state takes rank before the senate and the chamber of deputies. This pre-eminence, accorded it by public opinion, is based upon the importance of the services which the council is called upon to render, and upon the personal significance of the members who compose it.


—The legislative power is exercised in Brazil by the emperor and the general assembly: what is called the general assembly is composed of the senate and the chamber of deputies, which contribute almost always separately, but in rare cases in common, to the passing of laws. Both chambers are chosen by a popular election. The deputies are chosen directly by the country, according to a system of election of two degrees. The same method is applied in the election of senators, but popular action is restricted to designating to the emperor for each vacant senatorial place three candidates from among whom the emperor makes a choice. Senators are appointed for life, but the chamber of deputies is removed every 4 years. To be senator a person must be 40 years of age and have an income of 2,400 francs. To be elected deputy a person must be 25 years of age and have a revenue of 1,200 francs. The ordinary session begins, according to the constitutional provisions, on the 3rd of May of each year, and lasts 4 months. Unfinished work is carried over from one session to another during the 4 years' interval between the meetings of the legislature.


—Deputies and senators receive a salary. In case of the deputies this salary is fixed during the last year of each legislature for the following legislative term. The salary of the senators is one and a half as great as that of the deputies.


—The right of initiative belongs to the emperor and the two chambers. The chamber of deputies has the exclusive initiative in questions of taxation and recruiting for the army. It also must pass upon the choice of a new dynasty in case of the extinction of the reigning one, as well as upon proposals by the executive power.


—As in all constitutions implying a responsibility of political agents, it is the chamber of deputies in Brazil which decides whether ministers and counselors of state are to be impeached or not; and it is the senate which, performing the functions of a high court of justice, passes upon these accusations and certain others of an exceptional character.


—Such, in short, are the attributes of the Brazilian chambers. As to the forms of procedure, we may mention, in passing, the application of the English system which is very happily made in Brazil, and which consists in obliging the orator to address his speech to the president of the assembly. This rule, which lightens the effects of attacks and personal recriminations by turning them aside, maintains habits of calm and decorum during debates which are sometimes violent. Besides this parliamentary detail there are two points to be noted as giving an imprint of originality to the Brazilian constitution: in case of conflict between the two chambers, if one adopts and the other rejects a proposed law, the constitution has created a very simple procedure to terminate the difference. It authorizes the two chambers to form themselves into one, and to decide the question according to the majority of votes. The other point is: Who shall have the last word in case of disagreement, the monarch or the chambers? The publicists of Europe have long debated the question. The constitution of Brazil has solved it in favor of parliament. The refusal to sanction a law is only a retarding power; but in order that a proposition emanating from the chamber should have the full force of law, it is necessary that it should have been adopted by three successive legislatures, that is to say, by three votes of three different assemblies, at an interval of four years between two of these votes at least.


—The organization and working of the elective body has just been mentioned. It now remains to indicate, in a few words, what the institutions are which protect the provincial and municipal interests of the empire. Since 1834 there are provincial assemblies in Brazil, which have legislative authority in all matters concerning finance and administration in the provinces. Decentralization exists in Brazil in the broadest sense of the term. Each province uses its resources as it likes. The central government, represented by the chief of the administration, who bears the title of president of the province, has only a very limited power in matters of provincial interest, and although there is a method of reforming the decrees of provincial assemblies, recourse is scarcely ever had to it.


—It is needless to say that in a country where provincial institutions enjoy a liberty so complete, under the shadow of the elective principle, municipal liberty, which comes nearest to individual liberty, is fully respected. The cities govern themselves through administrators of their own choice under the control of elected assemblies.


—There are two degrees of electors in Brazil, parish voters and provincial voters.


—Every Brazilian citizen, native or naturalized, is a voter, provided he is 25 years old. The only exceptions to this rule are paid laborers, cloistered monks, and persons who have not an income of 300 francs, no matter from what source, even the product of daily manual labor.


—The first degree of electoral right is thus constituted. Voters of the first degree, or of the parish, have but one thing to do: they name the provincial voters who form the second electoral degree; the latter choose incumbents for all elective offices. Every Brazilian citizen may be chosen provincial elector provided he has a revenue of 600 francs.


—On periodical occasions, determined by law, the whole electoral machinery is put in motion in the empire. Parish voters choose the provincial voters, these in their turn choose men to every elective office, from justice of the peace, who is elected, to the deputy in the general assembly.


—The election of deputies to the assembly was made, up to 1836, by voting for the representatives of a whole province on a single ticket.


—At this date the system of electing deputies was modified by law. Election by districts and individually was substituted for collective elections and by provinces. Another law, passed in 1860, has in a certain way established a middle system between the old and the new, by suppressing a certain number of electoral districts having but a small number of provincial voters, and establishing, in such cases, collective election.


—To complete this general description of the constitution of Brazil, it remains to mention the declaration of rights, contained therein. The last article of this constitution (179) enumerates in 35 paragraphs, all the guarantees which in Brazil protect the man and the citizen.


Finances. The increase of public receipts is the surest sign of the prosperity of states, provided this increase does not result from an increase of old taxes or the creation of new ones. Now the government of Brazil for the past 30 years has been decreasing the public burdens. Its budget of receipts has increased each year in considerable proportions. We have the table of these receipts from July 1, 1844, to June 30, 1861, and, in the space of these 17 years, the receipts increased by an almost continuous movement upward from 74,000,000, in round numbers, to 157,000,000. In 17 years the public revenue has more than doubled, and the mean annual increase has been about 5,000,000 francs.


—Expenses have naturally increased in proportion to the growth of the receipts; but the years 1867, 1868, 1869 were exceptional on account of the war with Paraguay. Then the expenses were 306, 426 and 392 millions. The year 1870 brought a normal budget, and the amount of expenses scarcely reached 177,000,000 francs.


—A rapid glance at the budget of expenses for 1870 gives an idea of the burdens which the government is called to bear. The ministry of the empire (interior) expends about 14,000,000 francs. In this sum is included the allowance to the emperor, 2,400,000 francs; the allowance to the empress, 288,000 francs; the salaries of the counselors of state, senators, deputies and presidents of provinces; expenses of schools of law and medicine, of the school of fine arts, of the sanitary establishments, etc. Expenses of religion at the charge of the state, belong to the budget of the interior, and amount to about 2,500,000 francs.


—The budget of the minister of justice amounts to a little less than 10,000,000 francs. Justice is dispensed in Brazil by a supreme court; four courts of appeal, sitting at Rio Janeiro, Bahia, Maranhao and at Pernambuco; and by judges of courts of first resort, distributed throughout the extent of the empire. The police and the national guard are connected with the ministry of justice. The allowance of the ministry of foreign affairs does not exceed 2,500,000 francs. It is almost entirely devoted to the salaries of diplomatic and consular agents.


—The ministry of marine takes from the general budget a sum of about 21,000,000 francs. The Brazilian navy has developed considerably during the last decade. The budget of the ministry of war is about 33,000,000 francs. The chief expenses of this department are for the army 17,000,000 and for arsenals more than 5,000,000 francs. The ministry of finance expends annually more than 70,000,000 francs. This department has charge of the public debt, both home and foreign, which alone consumes a good part of the sum.


—The ministry of agriculture, commerce, and of public works uses about 30,000,000 francs. It is with this department that the expenses made in view of progress are connected, those which have the future in view and which should be considered as reproductive. In this class of expenses, the first place should be given to the interest guaranteed to railroads, the grant made for the development of colonization amounting to 2,000,000 francs, and the subsidy of nearly 7,000,000 francs given to various companies which serve the vast coast of the empire and the immense river Amazon with steam navigation. Postal communication forms a comparatively recent part of this ministry.


—To meet these expenses the budget for 1870 placed the receipts at about 194,000,000 francs. The principal receipts are the import duties, about 100,000,000 francs; the export duties nearly 35,000,000 francs; receipts for railroads 7,000,000 francs; postoffice, 1,200,000 francs; stamp duties, 13,500,000 francs; patents, 3,000,000 francs; land tax, 3,500,000 francs; lottery, nearly 4,000,000 francs; court fees, 1,500,000 francs; beside receipts extraordinary to a considerable amount.


—The amount of the debt was 1,453,000,000 milreis, in 1870, of which 113,600,000 milreis, or 283,000,000 francs, were a foreign debt, and 240,000,000 milreis, or 600,000,000 francs, home debt, at 4, 5 and 6 per cent.; 150,000,000 milreis, or 375,000,000 francs, in paper money; and 54,000,000 milreis, 135,000,000 francs, in treasury bonds. The interest on the public debt amounted, in 1872, to 15,900,000 milreis, that is, 38,750,000 francs. In 1860 the foreign debt was 125,000,000 francs, and the consolidated debt 145,000,000.


Defensive Power. The army of Brazil is composed of 25,000 men, and the navy has 76 vessels of all sizes, carrying, altogether, 290 cannons.


Products. We can understand that it has not yet been possible to draw up the industrial and agricultural statistics of so large a country; only the figures of its commerce are known which in 1868 amounted to 460,000,000 francs exports, and 350,000,000 imports; in 1869, to 500,000,000 and 410,000,000 francs, respectively. The export of coffee amounts to 150,000,000 francs; of cotton, to nearly 75,000,000; of sugar, to 50,000,000; of skins, to 18,000,000; of tobacco, to 8,000,000; of diamonds, to 7,000,000; of india rubber, to 5,000,000; of cocoa, to 3,000,000.


—Let us add, in conclusion, that the length of railroads was 651 kilomètres in 1870, and that of telegraphs was estimated at 1,500 kilomètres. *36


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Brazilien Land and Leute, by A. Constatt, 8vo, Berlin, 1877; Brazil and the Brazilians, by Fletcher and Kidder, 8vo, Philadelphia, 1857; de Erpily, Le Brésil, tel qu'il est, Paris, 1862; The Amazon and Madeira Rivers, by Franz Keller, fol., London, 1877; Brazil and the River Plata, by Wm. Hadfield, 8vo, London, 1877; Journey in Brazil, by Louis Agassiz, 8vo, London, 1868.


Notes for this chapter

The following figures are taken from the Statesman's Year Book, 1881: In the budget for the financial year 1879-80, the revenue of Brazil was set down at 117,273,800 milreis, and the expenditure at 116,675,690 milreis.

—In April, 1879, the total national debt, home and foreign, amounted to 786,116,837 milreis. In the same year the internal debt amounted to 565,000,000 milreis.

—There were actually under arms, according to official reports, at the end of the year 1878, 16,000 troops. But the nominal strength of the standing army is fixed at 20,000 on the peace footing. At the end of June, 1879, the navy consisted of 57 steamers.

—The area of the empire is estimated at 8,515,848 geographical square kilomètres, or 8,275,326 English square miles, with a population, in 1872, of 9,448,233, besides 1,000,000 aborigines.

Footnotes for BUREAUCRACY

End of Notes

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