The Constitutional System of Brazil

The Constitutional System of Brazil

The Constitutional System of Brazil

The Constitutional System of Brazil


To attempt a description of the constitutional and governmental system of one's own country is a task which taxes all the powers of examination, observation, and judgment of even the most thorough and capable student of government. To undertake the same study of a foreign government is infinitely more difficult. No mere study of constitutions, laws, and court decisions, no matter how painstaking and thorough such a study may be, will suffice to acquire an accurate and complete view of the governmental system.

For an adequate picture one must live oneself into the traditions, ideals, and even prejudices of the people whose government is to be studied. The intangible factors that play such an important part in the actual operation of a governmental system can never be properly evaluated from mere reading. Only after gathering the conflicting points of view of many individuals and following the discussions in the public press, at all manner of gatherings, and even in the streets and public places, can one begin to arrive at a just and fair estimate of the subtle and ofttimes conflicting forces that influence the actual operation of a system of government.

For such a study a year is all too short a time. It is with full realization of the fact that two or three times that length of time would still fall short of an adequate period for a complete familiarity with the institutions of Brazil, that the author presents his report on the year he spent in studying the constitutional system of that country. If there is any compensating feature for the handicaps under which any foreigner undertakes such an investigation it is in the fact that he starts with no prejudices of his own. In examining the government of a foreign country, his very lack of a life-long acquaintance with its problems and conflicting points of view enables him to treat of those problems with an impartiality that even the most gifted of national commentators can with difficulty attain.

This study, such as it is, could never have been completed without the whole-hearted support and interest of a large number of persons, both Americans and Brazilians. To enumerate all the sources from which the writer obtained invaluable aid would be impossible. But to omit mention of some of them would be an act of gross discourtesy and ingratitude.

To Dr. Leo S. Rowe, Director General of the Pan American Union, the writer is indebted not only for encouragement in undertaking this study as a research associate of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, but also for helpful suggestions, references, and letters of introduction to prominent men in Brazil.

To our Ambassador to Brazil, Hon. Edwin V. Morgan, the writer owes a debt of gratitude for his unfailing courtesy and helpfulness in making other important personal contacts.

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