"Allegory of the Republic", painting by Manuel Lopes Rodrigues belonging to the collection of the Bahia Art Museum
From the 1870s, as a consequence of the Paraguayan War (also called the War of the Triple Alliance, 1864-1870), the idea of some sectors of the elite was altered to change the current political regime. Factors that influenced this movement:
- The Emperor Pedro II had no male children, only daughters. The throne would be occupied, after his death, by his eldest daughter, Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, married to a Frenchman, Prince Gaston, Count of Eu, which generated the fear in part of the population that the country was ruled by a foreigner.
- The fact that the negroes helped the army in the Paraguayan War and, when they returned to the country, remained as slaves, that is, they did not gain the freedom of their owners.
- The resentment of the agrarian elite for the abolition of slavery, which they considered to be a personal desire of the imperial family and not of the people.
- The growth of the positivist and republican idea of Auguste Comte between the members of the Brazilian Army and its resentment with the monarchy by delicate military questions.
Political situation in 1889
The Imperial Government, through the 37th and last ministerial cabinet, was inaugurated on 7 June 1889, under the command of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Empire, Afonso Celso de Assis Figueiredo, the Viscount of Ouro Preto of the Liberal Party, perceiving the difficult political situation in which he was present, presented in a last desperate attempt to save the Empire to the Chamber of Deputies, a program of political reforms which included, among others, the following measures: greater autonomy administrative freedom for the provinces (Federal system), universal suffrage, freedom of education, reduction of prerogatives of the Council of State and non-lifelong mandates for the Imperial Senate. The proposals of the Viscount de Ouro Preto aimed at preserving the monarchical regime in the country, but were vetoed by the majority of deputies of conservative tendency that controlled the General Chamber. On 15 November 1889, the republic was proclaimed by the positivist militaries supported by the agrarian elite resented for not being compensated for the abolition of slavery.
Loss of prestige of the monarchy
There were many factors that led the Empire to lose the support of its economic and military bases. On the part of the conservative groups, by the serious friction with the Catholic Church; by the loss of the political support of the great landowners for the abolition of slavery, which occurred in 1888 without the compensation of the slaveholders.
On the part of the progressive groups, there was the criticism that the monarchy had maintained until very late, the slavery in the country. Progressives also criticized the absence of initiatives aimed at the economic, political or social development of the country, the maintenance of a political regime of caste and census voting, that is, based on the annual income of the people, the absence of a system of universal education, high rates of illiteracy and misery, and the political withdrawal of Brazil from all other countries on the continent, which were republican.
Thus, at the same time that imperial legitimacy declined, the republican proposal - perceived as meaning social progress - gained space. However, it is important to note that the Emperor's legitimacy was distinct from that of the imperial regime: While, on the one hand, the population generally respected and loved Emperor Pedro II, on the other hand, had less and less the Empire. In this sense, it was a common voice at the time that there would be no third reign, that is, the monarchy would not continue to exist after the death of Pedro II, whether due to the lack of political support of the monarchical regime itself or due to public repudiation The prince consort, husband of Princess Isabel, the French Count d'Eu. The Count was known as arrogant, he did not listen well, he spoke with a French accent, and, moreover, he owned slums in Rio, for which he collected exorbitant rents from poor people. It was feared that, when Isabel ascended the throne, he would become the de facto ruler of Brazil.
Although the phrase of Aristides Lobo (journalist and republican leader from São Paulo, later made provisional minister), "The people witnessed bestialized" to the proclamation of the republic, has entered into history, more recent historical research has given another version to the acceptance Of the republic among the Brazilian people. This is the case of the thesis defended by Maria Tereza Chaves de Mello (A República Consentida, FGV Publisher, EDUR, 2007), which indicates that the republic, before and after the proclamation, was popularly seen as a political regime that would bring about development, in a broad sense, to the country, Although the common people did not want to change the regime of government.