The Unwritten Alliance: Rio-Branco and Brazilian-American Relations

By E. Bradford Burns | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II A MAN FOR THE TIMES

APPOINTED MINISTER of Foreign Relations in November of 1902, the Baron of Rio-Branco did not arrive in Rio de Janeiro from his diplomatic post in Berlin until December 1, 1902. 1 His arrival was a hero's return to Brazil. The Brazilian people knew him as the diplomatic victor at Washington and Bern where, in the settlement of disputed territories by arbitration, Brazil had received awards which, in addition to settling potentially dangerous border conflicts, increased the size of Brazil by one hundred and fifteen thousand square miles, nearly four times the size of Portugal. By the able presentation of Brazil's claims, the Baron won for his country through two arbitration awards far more territory than Brazil had obtained in battle. For that reason, his return to his homeland after an absence of fifteen years was a triumphant entry. A witness to the reception described it in these words:

It was a warm and bright December day. Merchant ships dressed with pennants and crowded with people filled the harbor. In the midst of them, Rio-Branco descended from the transatlantic liner into the royal barge of Jo¥o VI, which, to the slow and majestic rhythm of the sixty oars manned by sailors from the Brazilian navy, transported him to shore. Rockets and shouts resounded; multicolored flags waved in the breeze. For a moment the barge stopped and the powerful figure of Rio-Branco appeared waving a large, grey top hat. The acclamations redoubled. A military band, approaching in another vessel, played a brisk air bearing his name, a song soon to become famous. On shore the manifestation assumed frightening proportions. 2

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