Proclamation of the Republic Day: November 15
Proclamation of the Republic Day is a public holiday in Brazil.
Like many other countries of the world, Brazil grappled with slavery issues in the nineteenth century. The combination of calls for abolition, distrust of the Empire, and widespread economic chaos led to an underground movement supporting the formation of a republic. The successful creation of that republic on November 15, 1889 is celebrated today as Proclamation of the Republic Day in Brazil.
History of Proclamation of the Republic Day in Brazil
Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca was a notable military man in Brazil’s military during the nineteenth century. The country, under the control of the monarchical Empire of Brazil, had its fair share of revolts and revolutions, and Fonseca played a strong part in quieting those rebellions. He also participated in the War of the Triple Allegiance, gaining enough notoriety to quickly move up the rank of full marshal. He became a popular figure among Brazil’s citizens and soldiers.
At the same time, the Empire was struggling with how to manage slavery in the country. King Pedro I supported abolition, but law-making power resided primarily in the hands of conservative pro-slavery parliament. The conservatives argued that slavery was essential to foundation of the Empire and its success. Regional rebellions were spawned because of the conservatives’ policies.
By the 1860s, a growing republican movement was taking shape in provincial portions of Brazil. Tired of the worsening economic conditions, the republican movement latched on to the idea of abolition as a way to spread propaganda. Slowly opinions changed within the monarchy, and slavery was abolished on May 13, 1888.
But the damage was already done to the Empire; abolition essentially signed the death sentence of the monarchy. After the triumph of abolition, the republican’s style of propaganda became more direct and threatening, and had already worked its way into the military ranks, causing many soldiers to secretively conspire against the monarchy. The efforts of men like Minister Ouro Preto to guard against the crumbling of the monarchy were not enough.
Meanwhile, the republicans had been making overtures to Marshall Fonseca, suggesting that he aid them with an overthrow of Emperor Pedro II. Fonseca, a man of loyalty, rebuffed the republicans on many occasions, but even Fonseca couldn’t help but notice the complacency that had taken hold within the Empire. Eventually, Marshall Fonseca agreed to speak with them. Days later, as the republicans prepared a coup against Emperor Pedro II, Fonseca shed his remaining scruples and joined the cause despite his repugnancy for the republican ideal.
In the early morning hours of November 15, 1889, the First and Ninth Cavalry Regiments and the Second Artillery Battalion of the emperor’s own military revolted and took control of the military headquarters where the government’s ministers had been staying the night. Minster Preto tried to gather resistance but fell short. He surrendered as head of government and sent word to the Emperor. Marshall Fonseca and the republicans took control and that evening, the proclamation of the republic was announced to the people of the capital. Thus began a new age in Brazil as the monarchy was dissolved and a provisional republican government was put into place.
Brazil’s Proclamation of the Republic Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
The people of Brazil celebrate Proclamação da Republica (the Proclamation of the Republic) every year on November 15, remembering the bloodless coup that endeavored to bring new freedom to the people of Brazil.
In 2009, the country celebrated the 120 year anniversary of the event. During a major speech, Senator Cristovam Buarque noted that the country still works towards a true republic, stating that the country currently doesn’t provide equal opportunity for all. He also noted the prevalence of illiteracy in the country, a major barrier to fulfilling the promise of a republic.