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

By Hendrik Kraay | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
Republican Innovations in the 1890s

On 15 November 1889, a military coup put an end to the empire and established a provisional republic. Within two days, Pedro II and his family were en route to exile, and the republican leadership turned to the task of consolidating the new regime. In short order, the provisional government designed new state symbols, instituted a new civic calendar, and changed street names associated with the monarchy to suitably republican ones. Enthusiastic republicans signed their correspondence with “Health and Fraternity [Saúde e Fraternidade],” a clumsy translation of the French Revolutionaries’ “Salut et Fraternité,” rather than the traditional “God keep your Excellency.”1 For a few years in the 1890s, republicans of various stripes promoted celebrations on the new days of national festivity to spread their message. Just as the French revolutionaries on whom the Brazilian republicans self-consciously modeled themselves discovered, it was not so easy to transform a society through ritual, and while much changed in Brazilian civic culture, later republican governments eventually made peace with the empire.2 Twentiethcentury Brazilian regimes, particularly the authoritarian ones, sought legitimacy through exalting independence heroes and linking themselves to the country’s long history.

While republicans had long advocated the monarchy’s overthrow, and tensions between the government and the army had long been simmering, the 15 November coup came as a surprise to many, including Pedro himself, who submitted quietly to the new state of affairs. The military coup had brought together a disparate group of discontents. Nominally under the leadership of Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, an elderly officer who had had disagreements with the cabinet but had demonstrated no republican proclivities, the conspiracy was strongly influenced by Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães, a positivist and

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