Brazil and the USA: Common Traits in Economy and Culture


The American concept of elective justice. Rui Barbosa, a well-known expert in British and American jurisprudence from Brazil, explained that:

Before moving from the British Isles to the [European] continent, the old inspiration of Anglo-Saxon legal genius formed a second patria in America. The jury was one of the oldest organizations in England's North American colonies.271
The United States served as an example to liberal thinkers like Barbosa of the process of democratization of the American continent's governmental systems. This rise of public authority mirrored radical liberal ambitions for popular participation in the administration of justice and the maintenance of order. However, this decentralising experiment did not address the concerns voiced by radical liberals about the distribution of public power with the central government.
Despite the early start, it wasn't until the late 1860s that the demands for regional autonomy and republicanism resurfaced as a rallying cry for those opposed to the centralising politics imposed from Rio. The Paulista planters, in particular, sought a solution in the US political paradigm that would address their underrepresentation in Parliament, as we will examine below. Similarly, federal and republican ideology found fertile ground to spread when the economic and social dynamism of the 1870s, fueled in part by rising coffee prices in the international market, resulted in the emergence of new middle classes in urban areas who decided to take their new aspirations to the political arena. The emergence of new social constituencies in Brazil has created new opportunities.

For the American model of society to be portrayed as an appropriate alternative for implementing the required reforms toward increased political representation. 

By 1870, several elements that had formerly opposed monarchical government had adopted the republican cause. Republicanism, a political doctrine, originated mostly in the coffee-growing regions of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The relocation of the economic hub from the North to the South in the 1850s resulted in a growing mismatch between the imperial regime's political representation system and its economic basis. The planter class in Central-South Brazil, particularly the emerging rural oligarchy in Western São Paulo, embraced a decentralizing ideology. What is relevant to the topic of this chapter is that the sectional revival of the plight for decentralisation from the 1870s onwards sought and found a solution in the language of republicanism to resolve the bottleneck posed by a combination of two factors: a lack of appropriate political representation in Parliament and the central government's alleged commitment to carrying out an emancipationist agenda. As we will see later, for the emerging economically powerful sectors, decentralisation and republicanism emerged as a new ideological framework from which to command political power.
Between the monarchical coup of July 1868, when the Emperor interrupted Parliament's normal procedures to replace a legitimately elected cabinet, and the republican coup of 1889, which established Brazil's First Republic (1889-1930), there were political realignments that profoundly altered the traditional map of political allegiances and traditional bipartisan politics. Brazil's first Republican Party was created two years after the country's biggest political crisis, which was caused by the consolidation of power in the central government. The
The party was founded by a group of liberals, largely from Rio de Janeiro, who split from the Liberal Party in 1870 to form the Empire's third recognized political party. These seceding liberals were the first to recognize the United States as the political paradigm and empirical source of model solutions for Brazil in the face of pressing issues such as the Emperor's discretionary use of the Moderating Power or the suffocation of regional development potential, among other things. The Republican Party's Manifesto of December 3, 1870, provided the first organic representation of the new anti-monarchic attitude, which intended to bring Brazil closer to a continent dominated by republican regimes. In this document, the new proponents of republicanism claimed:

We are from America and want to be Americans. 

Our system of government is fundamentally and practically antithetical to American law and the interests of the American states. […] Under these circumstances, Brazil can consider itself an isolated country, not just in the Americas, but also in the world.272
This statement publicly declared for the first time the need felt by some members of the elite for Brazil to move politically with the times and integrate its foreign policy with republican America, an argument that suited republicans seeking to justify the overthrow of the monarchy.273 As for the
272 'Manifesto Republicano', A República (R. Janeiro), December 3, 1870, 1. The full transcription of the Manifesto may be found in Reynaldo Carneiro Pessoa's book, A Idéia Republicana no Brasil através dos Documentos (São Paulo: Editora Alfa-Omega, 1973), 'O Manifesto Republicano de 1870', 39-62, 60. It is also transcribed in Américo Brasiliense, Os Programas dos Partidos e o Segundo Império (Brasília: Senado Federal, 1979), 61-85 and 82-83. Historians agree that the text was most likely authored by Quintino Bocaiúva, Salvador de Mendonça, and Saldanha Marinho.
273 If the idea of Pan Americanism is implied in the excerpt above, the reorientation of Brazil's foreign policy towards questions of hemispheric concern did not become formal policy until the republican regime, when the Baron of Rio Branco (son of the Viscount of Rio Branco) hold the portfolio of foreign
In terms of internal affairs, the Manifesto articulated an attack against the monarchical regime's centralising tendency, with province autonomy serving as its primary basis.274 Most republicans saw the post-Civil War United States republic as the most successful example of combining political diversity and national unity to date. Despite this unanimity, Brazilian thinkers disagreed on whether aspects of the US model were most suited to the creation in Brazil of a society in which political and civil liberties might thrive, as the following section will demonstrate.
In the early 1870s, republicans and monarchists alike became interested in the United States as a political experiment. Conservative monarchists blamed the Civil War problem mostly on the United States federal system. The conservative sectors shrewdly understood that period in American history as the inevitable conclusion of the federal organization of power and, as such, as a counter-model in the arguments around the decentralization of power, as we also noted in chapter.


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