« PreviousContinue »
to have thought highly of the Emperor, and Mrs. Agassiz records with evident pride the story of their visit to the capital of Brazil. James R. Partridge, who represented the United States at the Brazilian court in the seventies, spoke of Dom Pedro in the following enthusiastic manner:
The Emperor impressed me in every way as completely entitled to the reputation and popularity he has ... with all who have ever approached or known him. To the advantages of a fine person, a dignified presence, and most affable address, without the least parade ... he adds the solid things of admirable good sense, capacity, and knowledge ... He certainly appeared to me to be the best thing I have seen in Brazil.3
The visit of Dom Pedro to the United States in 1876 attracted considerable attention, and furnished occasion for his election to membership in the National Geographical Society and the issuance of a brief biographical sketch in so dignified a publication as the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution. His presence at the Philadelphia Exposition, moreover, gave Bell's telephone an opportune publicity which probably has meant much for the progress of that modern convenience.5
Four years later another enthusiastic North American minister at Rio spoke of His Majesty in most complimentary terms:
The Emperor is a man of large views and fine temper. Among the rulers of the world today, I do not know of one who combines more of the
2See Professor and Mrs. Louis Agassiz, A Journey in Brazil (Boston, 1871).
3Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States (1872), pp. 94-95.
4The Smithsonian Institution, Annual Report (1876), p. 173 ff.; Frank Vincent, Around and About South America (New York, 1895), p. 253. Note also Vincent's dedication.
5The Literary Digest, January 8, 1921, p. 30, quoting F. H. Sweet in Power Plant Engineering, gives an interesting account of the Emperor and the telephone.
qualities which constitute a good sovereign. He
The deposition of the aged Emperor in 1889 gave occasion for the fullest expression of American sentiment regarding him. If the utterances of the press may be taken as sincere, a good portion of the editors of the country seem to have been in doubt for a moment whether to congratulate Brazil for having set up a republic or to condole with the country on having deprived itself of the services and presence of so great a ruler and man. This attitude may be clearly seen in the following quotations taken from the leading contemporary newspapers :
It is a matter of great regret that the aged Emperor should be driven forth at this last hour of his life. The republic would have come naturally upon his death as a protest against the beliefs and projects of his daughter and her profligate husband; but now it seems almost like a cruel anticipation. The Liberals of Brazil, however, if it shall prove to be the fact that they have overthrown the Government to gain a just freedom, can certainly not be denied our sympathy and applause; and still, with Dom Pedro before us, it is with only half our heart that we can cry “A long life to the republic."?
While the world regards Dom Pedro with affectionate admiration, it can not help admitting that the inevitable has come to pass. All will regret, however, that the hour of the Brazilian Republic has struck during the life-time of the noble, progressive, and lovable Dom Pedro.8
The people of this country can not regard with disfavor any movement of the people of another
6Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States (1880), p. 97ff.
7New York Independent, November 21, 1889. 8The Chicago News, November 18, 1889.
country to set up a republican form of government
It now belongs to the Brazilians to show themselves equal to the responsibilities of their new situation. What they will make of their opportunities time will determine. Meanwhile the rank in history of their late monarch, as a patriot and statesman, is secure, and Dom Pedro carries with him into his retirement the regrets and good wishes of the civilized world.10
Somewhat different in tone but none the less laudatory are the following expressions :
Dom Pedro was one of the best, most liberal, and most progressive emperors that ever ruled. But the system of which he was the head was wrong, and it had to go before the advance of liberty and republicanism.11
Among all the “monarchs retired from business," Dom Pedro, of Brazil, is one of the best ... He was not so much a strong man as a kindly man, seeking more the good of his people than the protection of his throne . . ,12
The New York Tribune saw in the proposed compensation to the Emperor not only a wise political move but an act of justice to a well deserving ruler:
9The Philadelphia Ledger, November 20, 1889.
Dethronement with compensation on a scale that proves that a republic is not ungrateful to a highminded and progressive sovereign is hailed with satisfaction throughout Brazil. It is an anomaly in the annals of revolution, for kings are ordinarily lucky if they escape with their lives; but, under the circumstances, it is a just and equitable arrangement. The Emperor did not deserve to be dismissed like a lackey. He has gone out like a prince loaded with benefaction from a people whose quarrel was not with him, but with the monarchical system.13
The placidly optimistic view assumed by the Indianapolis Sentinel may perhaps not unfittingly be quoted as a sensible and wholesome attitude regarding the whole affair:
The new regime involves little, really, but a change of external forms. Brazil has long been one of the freest countries on the globe-a republic really in everything but the name. The occupant of the imperial throne, too, was a republican at heart, and perhaps he will not repine greatly that the people to whom he is so warmly devoted have cast off, while he is in the flesh to see, the imperial robes that hung so awkwardly upon them.14
When the Brazilian revolution was discussed in the Congress of the United States in connection with a resolution proposing immediate recognition of the new republic, not even the most radical anti-monarchists indulged in severe censure of Dom Pedro. In fact, Morgan of Alabama, who introduced the resolution, made it clear that there was not
slightest criticism ... against the conduct of that
13 November 19, 1889.
14 November 18, 1889. For comments of the press of the United States on the general subject of the revolution in Brazil, see Public Opinion, VIII (November 23, 1889), p. 159ff.
ple, his attachment to liberal institutions, his con-
And Sherman of Ohio, the most influential opponent of a hasty recognition of the newly established government of Brazil declared that he was actuated in part by
a feeling of respect for one of the most distin-
that rank.16 But the republican ardor of the people of the United States was in reality not cooled by their admiration for the last American emperor. To many the pacific fashion in which Dom Pedro abdicated seemed to indicate a voluntary surrender to what he conceived to be the will of the people, and his departure from Rio de Janeiro signified a deliberate abandonment of all claims of the House of Braganza to Brazil. If hereafter Dom Pedro or any other member of that House should decide to re-assert those claims, the ardent republicans of the United States were inclined to assume that they would do so under European persuasion or pressure and that they could only succeed in recovering the lost American empire with the aid of the European powers. Such persuasion, pressure, or assistance these republicans professed to consider a violation of the Monroe Doctrine.
This fear of European intervention and preference for republican institutions, even in a case where the choice was
15 United States Congressional Record, 51 Cong., 1 Sess., p. 313. 16bid., p. 316.