Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Cabanagem (1835-1840)

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The Cabanagem (1835-1840) was a social revolt that occurred in the then-province of Grão-Pará, Brazil.

Among the causes for this revolt were the extreme poverty of the Paraense people and the political irrelevance to which the province was relegated after the independence of Brazil.

The name "Cabanagem" refers to the type of hut used by the poorest people living next to streams, principally mestizos, freed slaves, and indigenous people. The elite agriculturists of Grão-Pará, while living much better, resented their lack of participation in the central government's decisionmaking, which was dominated by the provinces of the Southeast and Northeast.

It is estimated that from 30 to 40% of the population of Grão-Pará, estimated at 100,000 people, died. In 1833 the Province had 119,877 inhabitants, being 32,751 Amerindians and 29,977 black slaves. Mixed-race people were 42,000. The White minority was 15,000, over half of them Portuguese.[1] The revolt had a strong racial background. The Amerindian, Black and mixed majority, which lived under deep poverty, fought against the White minority that dominated the economy and culture, not only in Grão-Pará, but in the rest of Brazil as well.[2]


During the independence, Grão-Pará mobilized itself to expel reactionary forces which tried to reintegrate Brazil into the Portuguese Empire. Until 1822 Grão-Pará had been a separate viceroyalty from Brazil, reporting herself directly to Portugal; after Brazilian independence Grão-Pará decided to join Brazil. In the independence struggle, which dragged on for several years, the canon and journalist João Batista Gonçalves Campos, the Vinagre brothers and the farmer Félix Clemente Antônio Malcher stood out. Several lodges of fugitive slaves formed, and there were frequent military rebellions. Once the fight for independence ended and a provincial government named by Brazilian Emperor was installed, the local leaders were marginalized from power.

In July 1831 - a few months after the abdication of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil at Rio de Janeiro - a rebellion in the military garrison of Belém do Pará broke out, and Batista Campos was imprisoned as one of the implicated leaders. The indignation of the poor grew, and in 1833 already there was talk of converting Brazil into a federation. The provincial president, Bernardo Lobo de Souza, unleashed a repressive political wave, in an attempt to contain the separatists. The climax was reached in 1834, when Batista Campos published a letter from the Bishop of Pará, Romualdo de Sousa Coelho, criticizing various politicians from the province. For not having permission from the provincial government, Campos was persecuted, and sought refuge on the fazenda of his friend Clemente Malcher. Meeting the Vinagre brothers (Manuel Vinagre, Francisco Pedro Vinagre, and Antônio Vinagre) and the India-rubber collector and journalist Eduardo Angelim they joined a contingent of rebels on Malcher's plantation. Before being attacked by government forces, they abandoned the plantation. Nevertheless, on November 3, troops managed to kill Manuel Vinagre and hold Malcher and other rebels. Batista Campos died on the last day of the year, apparently because of an infection caused by a cut he suffered while shaving.

The movement

On the night of January 6, 1835 the rebels attacked and conquered the city of Belém, assassinating the president Sousa Lobo and the Army Commander, and acquiring a large quantity of munitions. On January 7, Clement Malcher was released and was chosen as president of the province, with Francisco Vinagre as the Army Commander. The government did not last long, because when Malcher, with the support of the upper class, attempted to keep the province united to the Brazilian empire, Francisco Vinagre, Eduardo Angelim, and the other rebels attempted to separate. The break happened when Malcher ordered Angelim taken. Troops on both sides enterred the conflict, and the side of Francisco Vinagre was victorious. Clemente Malcher was assassinated, and his body was dragged through the streets of Belém.

Now in the presidency and the Army Command of the Province, Francisco Vinagre was not able to keep his supporters faithful. If it were not for the intervention of his brother Antônio, he would have yielded the government to imperial control, in the person of marshall Manuel Jorge Rodrigues in July 1835. Due to this weakness and the resurgence of a squadron commanded by the English admiral Taylor, the rebel forces were destroyed and retired toward the interior. Reorganizing their forces, they again attacked Belém on August 14. After nine days of battle, and suffering the death of Antônio Vinagre, they retook the capital.

Eduardo Angelim assumed the presidency. For ten months, the elite were alarmed by the rebel control over the province of Grão-Pará. The lack of a plan with concrete means to consolidate the rebel government again provoked a weakness in the ranks. In March 1836, the brigadier José de Sousa Soares Andréia was named president of the province. His first measure was to attack the capital again, which was carried out in April 1836, and as a result of which the rebel group decided to abandon the capital in favor of resistance from the interior.

Naval forces under the command of John Pascoe Grenfell blockaded Belém and, on May 10, Angelim fled from the capital, and was captured and detained. Meanwhile, contrary to what Soares Andréia imagined, the resistance did not end with the detention of Angelim. For three years, the rebels continued to resist from the interior of the province, but were gradually destroyed. The conflict finally ended when amnesty was declared to the rebels, in 1839. In 1840 the last rebel group, under the leadership of Gonçalo Jorge de Magalhães, yielded.
[edit] Legacy

It is estimated that during the five years of fighting in the revolt, the population of Pará was reduced from about 100,000 to 60,000.[3]

In homage to the Cabano movement the Memorial da Cabanagem was erected in the entrance to the city of Belém.

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