Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Brazil

By Lawrence F. Hill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
RECENT TENDENCIES

ON THE whole the most satisfactory epoch in Brazilian- American relations has been the period since the advent of Moraes Barros, the first of Brazil's civilian presidents. It was natural that cordiality should improve after Brazil adopted the republican form of government. Often there is more efficacy in form than in spirit.

Early in the period came President Cleveland's award in the Misiones boundary controversy to stimulate the esteem between the great republics of North and South America. With its roots extending as far back as the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, the dispute between Brazil and Argentina had at time assumed acrimonious proportions. When the president of the United States accepted the rôle of arbiter in 1892, the point of contention was the identification of two small streams, tributaries of the Iguassú and Uruguay rivers mentioned in the eighteenth century negotiations of Spain and Portugal. In the nineteenth century it was discovered that two pairs of streams answered the descriptions of the earlier negotiators. Of the two pairs, Argentina claimed the easternmost and Brazil the westernmost. Several years of direct negotiations failed to bring an agreement; then came the treaty of 1889 making the president of the United States the arbiter.

After listening to arguments ably presented by both groups of distinguished counselors, and after a careful examination of volumes of material reviewing the controversy's history of four centuries, President Cleveland, February 6, 1895, rendered a decision in favor of the line formed by the

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