Days of National Festivity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1823-1889

By Hendrik Kraay | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Monarchical Reaction, 1837–1841

On 18 September 1837, an embattled Diogo Antônio Feijó resigned his post as regent; Pedro de Araújo Lima, the minister of empire (interior), succeeded him as acting regent and immediately appointed a new cabinet. These events marked the beginning of what became known as the Regresso, the reaction to the liberal reforms of the previous decade that rolled back many of them in the early 1840s. The Regresso grew out of an alliance of disgruntled Moderados and former restorationists who built a firm power base among planters in Rio de Janeiro province in the mid-1830s. As Jeffrey Needell has shown, these reactionaries gradually won over a parliamentary majority whose opposition made Feijó’s position untenable. This self-proclaimed “Party of Order,” as it became known in the 1840s, offered a program of strengthening the state, safeguarding the supply of slaves, and securing a representative constitutional monarchy. Liberal reforms had only promoted disorder, such as the rebellions that were then wracking Rio Grande do Sul and Pará (and the one that would break out in Bahia shortly after news of the Regresso arrived there, the Sabinada), and only a stronger central state could address these threats to Brazil, Regresso advocates argued.1

The new government invested heavily in the presentation a monarchical view of the Brazilian nation. From 2 December 1837—the first civic ritual of the Regresso—to Pedro II’s coronation on 18 July 1841, Rio de Janeiro experienced an intensification of monarchical ritual that included the restoration of traditional customs like the beija-mão. This was no consensual process, and many rejected the Regresso and envisaged a very different sort of monarchy from that espoused by the new government. Nevertheless, this investment in the monarchy and its ritual marked an important stage in the creation of the Brazilian empire, a regime that would, for the next five decades, be indelibly marked by not only the character and personality of its monarch, as Roderick Barman

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