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The Practice of Politics in Postcolonial Brazil

The Practice of Politics in Postcolonial Brazil: Porto Allegre, 1845-1895

Roger A. Kittleson
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    The Practice of Politics in Postcolonial Brazil
    Book Description:

    The Practice of Politics in Postcolonial Brazil traces the history of high and low politics in nineteenth-century Brazil from the vantage point of the provincial capital of Porto Alegre. In the immediate postcolonial period, new ideas about citizenship and freedom were developing, and elites struggled for control of the state as the lower classes sought inclusion in political life. In a shift from the Liberal Party to Positivist or Conservative rule during the bloody Federalist Revolt of 1893-1895, new leaders sought to bring about a more balanced structure of government where the capitalist was sympathetic to the worker, and the worker more passive toward the elite. This represented a complete change of opinions-a new regime of ideas. Termed a "scientific" approach by its proponents, the movement was based on historical process and would be brought about through civic education.

    Against the backdrop of the abolition of slavery and subsequent assimilation, the rise of European immigration, and industrialization, Kittleson investigates how "the people" shaped changing political ideologies and practices, and how through local struggles and changes in elite ideology, the lower classes in Porto Alegre won limited political inclusion that was denied elsewhere.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7289-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    The Republicans who fought their way to power at the end of the nineteenth century in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, tirelessly proclaimed the conservative nature of their programs. Fervent admirers of the thought of Auguste Comte, they shared the French philosopher’s abhorrence of revolution and sought to shore up existing social hierarchies in their city and state. Implicit in their plans for strengthening the social order, however, was the promise of great changes in Gaúcho politics and society.¹ Under the direction of the only group with the requisite “scientific” understanding of historical processes—their own political party, the...

  2. 1 “Our Compatriots Are Vagrants”: Work, Moraliry, and the Shaping of a New Povo, 1845–1880
    (pp. 12-45)

    In 1845, as they pondered the reconstruction of their province after a decade of civil war, elites in Porto Alegre faced the same tough, practical questions that had confronted their counterparts after other regional revolts flared up across Brazil in the 1817–45 period—indeed, the same questions that plagued the country’s still-young national government when the final major rebellion (the Praiera) was quelled in Pernambuco just three years later. How could they restore production on plantations and ranches, many of which had been devastated in Rio Grande do Sul’s Farroupilha Revolution and other violent regional uprisings? How could they...

  3. 2 The Immigrant Solution and Its Problems, 1846–1880
    (pp. 46-73)

    In the first week of March 1853, José Cândido Gomes, the intrepid social columnist who wrote under the pseudonym “O Estudante,” reported the destruction of aquilombo(runaway slave community) near the city of Rio Pardo. The area, an easy boat trip upriver from Porto Alegre, had been the site of manyquilombosover me years. The arrival of me formerquilombolas(quilomboresidents) in Porto Alegre, in me custody of police soldiers, served as the point of departure for one of Gomes’s ironic observations:

    This Friday we all learned that the runaway fathers are setting up colonies: Just look...

  4. 3 The Politics of Everyday Life in the City
    (pp. 74-117)

    In the early 1830s, Arsène Isabelle, a French businessman who later came to know Porto Alegre well, expressed surprise that the harsh conditions of slavery in the city did not lead the enslaved to rebel. Isabelle was no lover of the blacks and mulattoes whom he saw working in servitude on the streets of the city; “They are necessarily brutes,” he wrote, “vile usurpers of the name of men.” It was, however, principally the treatment they received at the hands of theirsenhoresthat appalled the traveler. To the question of how Porto Alegre’s masters treated their slaves, Isabelle answered:...

  5. 4 Blurring the Lines of Public Politics: Abolitionist Projects, 1879–1888
    (pp. 118-148)

    On 10 February 1884, just eleven days after his fivesenhoresgranted him a letter of emancipation, José Velho broke into a storeowner’s house; stole a watch, a golden medallion, and other objects; and fled. Seeing José depart and then noticing a door and some drawers forced open, the storeowner’s clerk took off as well, chasing down José and taking him to the police. Questioned by the police, the prisoner did not deny his crime but rather tried to justify his actions by explaining the pressures of working for hissenhor. Even when technically free, José had continued to serve,...

  6. 5 “A Strange Vision of Popular Movement”: The Emergence and Limits of a New Politics
    (pp. 149-182)

    The Republic came to Porto Alegre on 15 November 1889, as it did to most of Brazil, via telegrams from Rio de Janeiro. Eight months earlier, Júlio de Castilhos and other powerful members of the Rio-Grandense Republican Party (PRR) had met at the Fazenda da Reserva, a ranch belonging to Castilhos’s family, to declare their intentions of ending the Brazilian Empire. Despite their pledges to carry out “revolution,” however, Porto Alegre’s Republicans had no hand in the military-led conspiracy that toppled the monarchy in the nation’s capital.¹ The first rumors of a coup d’état appeared around midday on 15 November,...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 183-188)

    Late on the night of 18 January 1888, the young domestic servant Maria da Costa put an end to a conflict on the streets of Porto Alegre by referring to a doctrine that her social superiors would have considered subversive. Coming upon one of her female friends riding in a coach with another woman and two men, Maria accused the woman of deceit: hadn’t the friend promised to spend the night with Maria? After hurling a few venomous insults at the woman, Maria turned, apparently to go on her way. Heading very slowly up the same road as the coach,...

  8. Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography
    (pp. 189-190)