SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.31 issue62Cinema and History: archive documentaries as places of memoryThe Carte de l'Amérique méridionale of Bourguignon D'Anville: perspective axis of a compared Amazonian cartography author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Revista Brasileira de História

On-line version ISSN 1806-9347

Rev. Bras. Hist. vol.31 no.62 São Paulo Dec. 2011 



The Strengthening of the Imperial State Through Military Recruitment in the Context of the Farrapos War1



José Iran Ribeiro

Associate Professor of Teaching, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM). Departamento de Metodologia de Ensino. Faixa de Camobi, Campus Universitário, Prédio 16, Sala 3333 B. 98300-000 Santa Maria - RS - Brasil.




The strengthening of the Brazilian Imperial state has been explained in various manners. Nevertheless, although the context of the first half of the nineteenth century was marked by the outbreak of numerous armed revolts, there are almost no analyses relating the policy of the Court and the provinces to the significant growth in the operation of the Brazilian Imperial army. This is precisely the objective of this paper, which will analyze the capacity of the authorities to recruit the necessary military forces in that context of intense military mobilization, relating this to the strengthening of imperial authority. It is concluded that the different provincial realities decisively influenced the process of obtaining recruits and the greater or lesser strengthening of imperial power in local realities.

Keywords: Brazilian Imperial State; Military Recruitment; Farrapos War.



Reflecting on the processes of the construction of modern national states, Tilly stated that more than other activity, "war and the preparation for war produced the principal components of European states." He believed that states were constructed through the application of coercion and highlighted that states defeated in wars often ceased to exist.2 However, for Mann although there is authoritarianism in the organization of states, there is also negotiation between the relations of power.3

In Brazil the relatively peaceful nature of the process of independence influenced the historiography and the importance of military successes in the initial decades of the independence of the Empire has been rarely highlighted, with the result that the regency revolts have been examined from regional perspective and not in an integrated manner. Even though the process of constructing the Imperial state has been explained in a different ways, the principal analyses have paid little attention to the military reality. Uricoechea was the one who came closest to this, analyzing the process of the expansion and the consolidation of the authority of the central state in a context in which its instruments were not strong enough so that action was only taken by private powers. For him the National Guard was important in this respect until the state bureaucratized itself and it was able to dispense with private assistance.4

Going beyond the dichotomic explanations of the construction of Brazilian unity depending on a greater or lesser presence of the state, according to Carvalho5 unity was principally maintained by the univocal intellectual conception that orientated the elite. The enlightenment built on top of the eighteenth century Portuguese reference, and spread most especially by the University of Coimbra, was to a large part responsible for the maintenance of Brazilian unity and the construction of the monarchical state. Carvalho also argues that the Imperial state deliberately continued educating the elite, aiming to maintain cohesion. This ideological homogeneity reduced conflicts among the dominant sectors and prevented the occurrence of abrupt and violent changes that required the political mobilization of the poor sectors. The convulsions and break down of social hierarchies in the former Spanish possessions in America were daily examples to the Brazilian elite. Thus, the preservation of the unity of Brazil arose out of the preservation of this cohesion and the political exclusion of groups which had nothing to lose if the order was altered.

Elsewhere Carvalho believes that the revolts resulted from the Ato Adicional (1834), which by decentralizing power, transferred intra-elite conflicts to the Brazilian countryside and opened the way for the occurrence of splits in the elite, involving rural landowners, slaves and peasants, amongst others. These 'conflicts between whites' showed that to consolidate the system of power, it was not only necessary to control the urban population, the peasantry and the slaves, but also to mediate the different interests in the dominant group. Construction was slow, especially after the conservative return in 1837, and was only consolidated around 1842, when the central state managed to accumulate political power to confront local spheres. The craftsmen behind this project were the leaders of Fluminense coffee planting elite, notably through the Interpretação do Ato Adicional Law (1840) and the reformulation of the Criminal Proceedings Code (1841). Measures which returned authority to the central power in a process that was only actually completed in 1850.6

Mattos compared colonial continuities and the innovations of the nineteenth century, highlighting the similarities and the differences between conservatives and liberals, accompanying the process in which the conservatives used the rebellions of the liberal decade to construct a self-image of the defenders of order in a time of disorder. His analysis centers on the province of Rio de Janeiro and the Court, aiming to understand how the Saquarema elite, as the conservatives were known, became hegemonic and directed the process of the construction of the Imperial state and Brazilian unity.7 For this reason he does not really consider the participation and the interests of the other regions of Brazil, making it appear that the unity and centralization projects resulted from the actions of the Fluminense coffee-planter elites.

The importance of these analyzes can be measured in the works based on them, as well as the debate they generated. Another perspective has been helping to qualify the discussion and has been especially influenced by Graham, thereby giving greater weight to the economic structure of Brazil and to slavery. The author asks why the economic elite, which was not necessarily the same as the one created in Coimbra, accepted the latter's direction. Mattos asks if the success of the centralization of power was not due more to the advantages that the non-Fluminense elites glimpsed of the Court's cooption power.8

Analyzing the revolts, Graham highlighted that they showed regional desires for autonomy. However, the leaders of the different movements soon perceived the danger in the lack of a central authority to guarantee the maintenance of their elite status and abandoned their followers, joining the repression. The exception to this occurred among the Farroupilhas, who did not lose their leaders and continued subordinate to non-landholders. The chaos resulting from the revolts led the different Brazilian elites to support the centralization of the state in the Court, not because they were co-opted by the Saquaremas and even less so because they shared the same intellectual formation. Fundamentally, they sought the authority of a monarch who legitimated the levels of social hierarchy, with the landholders in the highest places.

None of the authors was concerned with the relationship between the specificities of the provinces and the military actions carried out by the central state. This, though, has to be taken into account in a context of the extreme movement of troops. After all, despite the economic or political interest of the elites of the provinces in revolt, the military victories of the loyalist forces decisively influenced the development of the history of the Empire. Therefore, as well as the political and economic context, it is necessary to consider the military capacity of the state, as well as different interests and regional possibilities in that context marked by and dependent on military success. The analysis of the recruitments made in the different regions of the Empire raises important questions.



Among the characteristics of colonial administration inherited from the Empire was the delegation of powers to the individuals who represented the state to recruit, for example. While this strengthened the state, it also strengthened the local authorities who legitimately had the power the recruit or give exemptions according to informal and variable orientations. What also contributed to this was the fact that regulations about recruitment determined who was exempt, but left open the decision about who would be enlisted. Local authorities acted in accordance with the situation, reinforcing the maintenance of clientele networks, choosing soldiers and freeing others. A great part of the historiography on recruitment highlighted that the mustering of new recruits was marked by violence, amongst other reasons because the need for recruits clashed with resistance and the creativity of populations.

However, if possible those recruited could choose in which clientele network would be included, with the best being the one which offered greater benefits, such as exempting them from military service. Local grandees depended on the creation of networks to guarantee their status as leaders. The exchange of favors for obedience was maintained until at least one of the parts broke the union of reciprocal interests. Those who were supposed to obey and did so, obtained the possible protection; while the leaders who dealt with clientele obtained power. If the former stopped submitting, recruitment was the possible punishment.9

Supplying the armies with recruits was also related to the collectivity of communities and depended on a series of factors related to regional realities. Nevertheless, the preference of recruiters was to get unknown persons and those considered vagabonds. Caught up in the former condition, a bailiff an official of justice from Angra dos Reis was recruited because "he was not known in the region, and handed over to the justice of the peace to serve as a vagrant." In Rio Grande do Sul a recently arrived merchant was arrested by the police, "because they did not know him." Therefore, any individual not recognizably inserted in protection networks could be enlisted. This, for example, was the case one person enlisted due to irregular conduct in Pernambuco, about whom it was stated "that he had intended to commit a murder, but not being here, he will not be able to carry it out," and for this reason he should "go to the army and serve in the south, so that he may not return here again so early;" or the person from Rio Grande do Sul described as someone with neither "family nor obligation ... if it were not for Farrapo or being an [Imperial] soldier he would become a thief." According to the Minister of War, there were those to whom "it was useful to given an honest means of living." 10

The situations described demonstrate that the recruiters targeted a determined social group, and that recruitment was marked by coercion. These were the ones targeted by the authorities. An example of this is the sending to the army of an individual who had wandered around the city and making his two sons apprentices in the arsenal to be "educated and used as other have in identical circumstances." 11 A mixture of praiseworthy charity and the control of order, the authorities believed that their task was to send "the drunk and beggars, vagabonds, tramps, the turbulent, professional gamblers, disadvantaged orphans, sons without a father, boys without a trade, maidens without protection ... so many other parasites from the social tree, whom it is necessary to extirpate from the trunk opportunely, converting them to the aptitude to work, which is wealth." 12

According to Kraay's understanding, recruitment was a "system contributed to by the state, the land and slave holding class and a large part of the free poor, and from which each participant obtained significant benefits." It was in the interest of the government to maintain the supply of recruits, at the same time that excess recruits were dismissed to guarantee an appearance of equity and respect for the laws. For local leaders the recruitment guaranteed the authority of the patrons, and it also served as a resource to control those who caused tumults, those who would not obey authority, those without employers, or the unwanted. It served the free and honorable poor because it differentiated them from those who did not behave within the expected patterns and threatened the tranquility of the settlements. Recruitment took the maladjusted and sent them far away, freeing the populations from their bothersome presence.13

This understanding perfectly summarizes the logic which underpinned the raising of recruits. Nonetheless, this refers to situations of greater tranquility, when there was no need to form large military groups and the different parties could negotiate. However, from the second half of the 1830s onwards the constant provincial revolts demanded a greater number of soldiers and the dynamics of the conflicts destructured the norms of the daily dynamics in many provinces.



Analyzing the growing need for recruits for the Imperial army during the war against Paraguay, Izecksohn concluded that negotiations broke up in situations of greatest demand, when clientele networks and the possibilities of receiving favors tended to be exhausted.14 The context of the provincial revolts in the first half of the nineteenth century was similar. However, as well as the need to supply the army with recruits, it was also imperative to remove individuals involved in the rebellions from the provinces. The central government dedicated itself according to its capacity to negotiate with or to impose itself on disarticulated regional elites.

The measures decreed during the so-called Regresso were the framework for these changes, but they were also influenced by and reflected the generalized instability that marked the insurrections prior to 1835, in a context aggravated by the continuity of the revolts and the occurrence of other even more violent ones. These measures, especially those decreed after the regresso conservador (conservative return), have to be located within the general context of Brazil and the various provincial situations. It is thus necessary to carry out an analytical exercise of the insurrections through military movements and the systematic practice of the deportation of those involved, recruiting them for the armed forces.

It is important to mention that banishing individuals considered delinquent was not a novelty and the practice of compelling individuals considered to criminals to serve in the army was a contradictory systematic of modern armies. The penal function of recruitment regulated the disorder of the world of the poor and deportation continued in Brazil after 1822. In a single measure criminals and the unwanted were removed from their regions and the army was provided with recruits.15 However, deportation was also the destiny for the units and soldiers involved in disturbances. According to Kraay,16 after the Sabinada (1837) the application of this punishment was intensified and reached much more numerous.

Let us look at the context. The various armed movements occurring in Pernambuco demonstrated the agitation and the diversity of the political debate in the province. The violent imperial repression in 1824 was aggravated by internal Pernambucan rivalries, some inherited from 1817. In these conflict opponents mutually destroyed each other, the violence spread17 and Pedro I ordered exemplary punishments.18

In 1832 the Cabanos or Cabanada War broke out in Alagoas and Pernambuco. Fugitive slaves, coloreds, poor whites and Indians, discontent with the worsening of living conditions after the abdication of Pedro I, led and supported by influent groups and a large part of the population, rebelled in favor of the return of the former Emperor and against liberalism. They fought for the preservation of a way of life destructured by the expulsion of rural laborers from land and Indians from territories guaranteed by royal authority. The movement was only partially weakened by the death of Pedro (1834), and many influential persons sympathizers of absolutism took advantage of the amnesties offered by the central government. After this the war become an autonomous struggle of captives against slavery, until the rebels were almost totally annihilated between 1835 and 1836. The bibliography highlights the miserable conditions of existence and the struggle of the rebels, as well their resistance against the imperial troops.19

The rebel forces numbered up to 15,000 individuals, but the repression, the worsening of living conditions during the war and the concession of amnesty, amongst other conditions, weakened the movement. The last rebels were mostly fugitive slaves and miserable free poor. In 1835 the president of Alagoas proudly said that there were only 40 'fugitive blacks' left.20 Many of the rebels were sent through Pernambuco to serve in other parts of Brazil. They did not disappear. In 1838 some troops from a unit in Rio Grande do Sul took advantage of the lack of service records to claim that they were volunteers and demand the due extra payment. Their commander, however, knew that they had been recruited in Recife among the imprisoned rebels.21

This history, the subsequent continual agitations, as well as the severity of the Cabanada contributed to approximate political adversaries on the side of Imperial repression. According to Marson,22 between 1835 and 1842 the landholding elite in Pernambuco rallied around the Cavalcanti family and a moderate modernizing program. This political consensus allowed Pernambuco from 1837 onwards to be administered by a single president for almost ten years. The same year the Minister of Justice mentioned in his annual report that the administration in Recife provided "powerful assistance... for the pacification of other [provinces]: the most worthy president is due the honor of having assisted the imperial government in this very important task" of pacification. A large part of the troops sent to the different parts of the Empire actually did leave from Pernambuco. Only cohesive provincial leadership like this could actively help the central power.

The reports from the presidents of Alagoas suggested that in this province the executive had relative autonomy and almost no opposition. After the rebels had been defeated, apart from some occasional abuses of magistrates and outbreaks of rebellion controlled by the police corps, Alagoas remained in perfect tranquility. Conservatives and liberals supported mutually each other until 1844 at least.23

The proximity and the similarities between Pernambuco and Alagoas, as well as the almost non-existence of oppositions, are reflected in the number of recruits obtained from the two provinces. In August 1839 94 new recruits were enlisted; 70 came from Pernambuco and the others from Alagoas; in November the ratio was inverted, 60 came from Alagoas and 16 from Pernambuco. In these two lists alone 154 new recruits were raised in two months, and other groups were sent to the Court in July, October and November, 1839, 90 men in total.24 The recruits obtained in Pernambuco in just five months amount to 166 men; if we add those coming from Alagoas, we have 260 new members of the Imperial Army, a significant number and a little more than half the total of 407 political prisoners recruited by the president of Pará in 1842. However, it should be remembered that recruitment only reached these numbers in Pará due to the war, while the recruits sent from Recife and Maceió left in times of peace. Unfortunately there is not much data about the systematic which allowed so many individuals to be enlisted. However, some documents show that recruiters were not at all concerned with distinguishing between the legally exempt individuals and those that could be recruited.25

From the Amazonian provinces the Imperial state managed to drain a greater number of recruits. Cabanagem in Pará was the most violent rebellion. Since at least 1833 differences between provincial leaders had fed animosities, added to the survival difficulties of the mixed population of interior regions. The situation was worsened by the deportations of Portuguese and Brazilian supporters of Portugal, at the same time that the interiorana population was mobilized against the authorities and in favor of liberty. The action of the Imperial troops resulted in the flight of the cabanos, and the fighting that followed was marked by an incalculable number of deaths, generalized destruction and atrocities that continued until 1839.26

During that year 2500 people were killed in combat and around 1500 awaited trial. Others suggested that the final result was actually three or four times higher. The balance was explained by the Court as follows:

What is especially painful to me is the communication from the President of Pará, that in this province the number of prisoners is diminishing not only because order has been settled, but also because those in charge of prisons, noticing the lack of punishments, kill the rebels before they can be arrested.27

The figures and citation suggest a war of extermination. Pinheiro concluded that of a total of 404 prisoners, 157 were deported from the region and joined the ranks of the army.28 In 1836 the Minister of Justice reported that some had been recruited because it had not been possible to establish their guilt. In the 1840 report the president of Pará stated that he did not see "why they should be exempt from recruitment, and to serve in the first line in this province or in the south to where I have sent and I am sending those that are recruited." That year around four thousand rebels had been presented to the Imperial authorities. In 1842 another president of the province registered that in the 13 months of his administration 407 recruits had been sent to Rio Grande do Sul.29 In Assunção's opinion, the defeat of the Balaios ended the relative provincial autonomy of Maranhão.30

In Bahia it was different. According to Souza Filho, despite the efforts involved in the War of Independence, throughout the first kingdom various political groups did not totally recognize the command of authorities from the Court. As a result there were occasions when it was necessary to request the support of troops from other provinces to guarantee the authority of the Bahian provincial executive, which did not reduce the desire for greater autonomy in the province.31 Studies of Bahia have noted frequent transfers of soldiers involved in civilian and military mutinies in those years to other regions of Brazil. As Reis stressed, the Bahian troops were characterized by indiscipline and were inclined to "the subversion of order." 32

Partly as a result of this, between 1837 and 1838 the Sabinada exploded. Previously there had been rumors of possible military disorders in the province, and the flight of the Farroupilha leader Bento Gonçalves da Silva reinforced the suspicions that there existed a movement sympathetic to the republicans from Rio Grande do Sul and the Pará rebels. The provincial authorities determined the transferred of suspect units to the south, though this measure mobilized the military rebels, who were supported by other units, causing the provincial authorities to flee. Afterwards the separation of the province was proclaimed, followed by a four months siege by Imperial troops. The revolt was only brought under control in 1839, after the bombardment of Salvador and hunger undermined the revolt.

The fighting resulted in 594 Imperial and 1091 rebel dead and 2989 prisoners.33 Between 1837 and 1839, two battalions were extinguished and the soldiers were deported from the province and included in other units; despite being amnestied, not even the rebels officers could return to the province. Recruitment increased abruptly and considerably in the province, with 1809 individuals enlisting (Kraay, 2001), a number similar to the 1020 rebels expelled from the province up to November 1838. Of the men, 1520 went to Court, one hundred were sent to Pará and two hundred to Fernando de Noronha. Members of the rebels units are not included in these figures.34

Souza and Kraay mentioned that some men died in prison, or on en route, and others were tried, of whom many were condemned to death and absolved. It can be inferred that many of those sent to Court were incorporated in the recruit centers and transformed into soldiers in the units sent to the war in the south. At least this was the destiny of those imprisoned in Fernando de Noronha, from where afterwards there were sent to "the recruit center in the province of Santa Catarina all those suitable for military service, deported from Bahia ... after the Revolt in that city." Others had already been sent.35

Despite the seriousness of the Sabinada, the events were restricted to Salvador because the loyalist forces prevented the rebellion from spreading. This signified that the social structure in the interior of the state was maintained and the intervention of the central state was essentially limited to the state capital. According to Mattoso the majority of politicians from Bahia were conservative, which did not help the work of the presidents of the province.36 This is what can be concluded from the various mentions in the reports about the difficulties facing trying to impose their authority, problems that remained even after the suppression in the province of the constitutional article which guaranteed the preservation of individual rights, as well as following the approval of the Interpretação do Ato Adicional law and the reform of the Code of Criminal Proceedings.37 Thus, neither the Sabinada, nor the legislations which strengthened the power of the authorities nominated by the Court, signified the destruction of local leaders or their subordination to the provincial executive. In turn this hindered increased recruitment in Bahia, since the clientele networks were not altered.

This context led Kraay to believe that only recruitment immediately after provincial revolts were numerically significant, with enlistments afterwards returning to their selective and reduced character. Furthermore, recruitment as a police measure should not be exaggerated because the army only absorbed a small part of these individuals. He bases his argument on data from 1850, when only 66 of 1676 prisoners in Salvador were designated for military service and only half ended up in uniform. According to Kraay the patronage and clientele networks that structured society had to be maintained, and would not exist if potentates were undermined by the central authority (2001).

There are no figures for recruits in Bahia for the 1830s, though it can be argued that the data from the following two decades are sufficient to understand the incidence and the systematic of recruitment during the regency period. The number of troops in the Imperial Army in Bahia shows that there was a significant decrease in the quantity of recruits shortly after the Sabinada until 1850. However, the recruits which allowed the enormous numerical growth in the Imperial Army during that period had to come from somewhere. While there many have been few from Bahia, there were a large number of recruits from Pernambuco, Alagoas, Rio de Janeiro (the center for the mustering, training and allocation of recruits for the various parts of the Empire) and Pará, from where around 1500 came after the Cabanagem.38

Something similar to Pará happened in Maranhão after the Balaiada. This began in 1838, when liberals and cabanos fought for power in the province. The differences became more bitter after the cabanos took power upon the abdication of Feijó and unleashed a continual persecution of their adversaries. The balaios, men from the sertão (backlands) who in general were marginalized, were mobilized against the abuse of provincial power. These events signaled the urgency of an armed conflict which reached Piauí and regions of Ceará. The dispute went beyond the limits intended by the liberals, who withdrew their support from the balaios and began to collaborate in their repression. The rebels had up to 11,000 men, but in 1840 2500 balaios were amnestied.39 The last of the rebels defeated were blacks who had not been included in the pardons and fought almost to their extinction (Assunção, 2003).

Imperial victory was due to the reorganization of the troops - formed of men from Bahia, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba, Ceará and Piauí - and disagreements among the rebels (Janotti, 2003, p.66). Souza stressed the importance of the policy used for the repression and the deployment of agents of the Crown to exterminate rebels seen as barbarians in a war meant to bring civilization to the region. Not even the provincial elite was excluded from this understanding (2008, p.276-320). In 1840 the president of the province reported that his predecessor had sent 1500 troops to the south, that 150 more had followed in his government and others would be quickly sent. He also argued that "you cannot leave unrecognized that this government procedure is undoubtedly one of the resources indispensible to peace in Maranhão, as well as contributing to the tranquility of the south." In there were no more armed rebel groups and all the leaders had been killed, arrested, or removed from Maranhão.40

One of these men was the Indian Graciano de Souza Gavião, described as one of the "rebels who committed the most attacks ... And although he has not been tried, and officially there are no charges against him ... the aforementioned recruit should be given the destination that is understood to be best." From Maranhão Gavião went to live in Pernambuco, in accordance with the amnesty he had received, from where he left for the Court, where he was designated to serve as a soldier in Rio Grande do Sul. When he reached the city of Rio Grande, the officer who received him was warned that the new recruits had "excelled in different atrocities practiced" in Maranhão.41

In 1842 the Liberal Revolts broke out in São Paulo and in Minas Gerais against the centralizing measures of the conservative government, as it was believed the government would prevent the return of the opposition to power. Following the dissolution of the legislature, the liberals decided that armed opposition was their only option. Most especially they revolted against the centralization of power, but the revolts exploded in an independent and apparently unplanned manner. They lasted for 30 days in São Paulo and 60 in Minas Gerais, and were quenched after some skirmishes and the imprisonment of the leaders.

Holanda saw the Paulistas (from São Paulo) as a liberal political unit, in which "personal differences could survive, as they barely disturbed the fundamental coherence of the political thinking." 42 At that time the province of Minas Gerais was characterized by a society in which mining represented the a precocious presence of the state since the colonial period and increased social and economic diversification, reducing the polarization between the social extremes.43 However, the diversity of profiles of the Minas elite resulted in a heterogeneity of political projects.44 Despite this history, it is curious that before 1842, there was no suggestion in the reports of the presidents of the two provinces of any possibility of a revolt.

Vellasco, studying the comarca (district) of Rio das Mortes, showed that in the 1840s, the provincial presidents tried to centralize power but that their initiatives were little considered by the magistrates. Afterwards, following the publication of measures by the Saquarema administration, notably the reform of the Code of Criminal Proceedings, the application of justice became more efficient in the province (2004, p.149-302). Nevertheless, there are different understandings for other parts of the province.45

From the point of view of the capacity to mobilize military resources, that legislation and the imperial victory did not imply significant changes. According to the president's report, a little over 35 people had been killed in the combat and another 50 had been injured. However, in 1844 various former rebels had been amnestied and some already held functions in the public administration.46 According to Araújo,47 the differences soon became attenuated, few aligned themselves with the centralizing project of the Saquaremas, and nor did the former rebels stop following the rules of the political game.

Due to the number of recruits provided by the provinces after 1842, Minas Gerais and São Paulo, as well as Bahia, appear as the provinces which least contributed to the growth of the size of the Imperial Army. That year at least 608 recruits from Alagoas and 407 from Pará left for the south, while only a few dozen men from Minas formed the units against the republicans from Rio Grande do Sul. Mendes48 compared the provincial populations and the number of recruits they provided between 1845 and 1883, and concluded that those three provinces were the most laggard in terms of military service in the nineteenth century.

The south was the destiny of many of these recruits taken from the various parts of the Empire. In addition, while many from the north landed at ports in Rio Grande, many republicans from Rio Grande do Sul were deported to the north. The process was the same and with a little imagination the movements of thousands of soldiers and uniformed deportees from one end of Brazil to another can be glimpsed.

For example, it is known what happened to Francisco G. Mangueira. By order of the president of the province of Rio Grande do Sul, Francisco was deported in March 1837, described as an "anarchist, murderer and bad man, [who] has always been in arms against the loyalists." In May, a prisoner, he arrived in Recife as a member of the army. Six months later he had received three promotions and was a quartermaster in a Pernambuco unit sent to fight against the republicans from Rio Grande do Sul. Then someone noticed that the quartermaster and others had "served with the rebels, and had been expelled from that province, [for which reason] it is not convenient to keep them here, order them to return to... Pernambuco." The criminal, former rebel, and quartermaster stopped in the Court, was presented to the Minister of War and asked to be dismissed.49

Events such as these point to the difficulties of a state bureaucracy in coordinating efforts, or better, demonstrated the mishaps of an administrative machine that was still being built trying to take into account the different demands from the various parts of a continental empire. However, these are examples which cannot be understood as representing the total incapacity of the Brazilian state at that time. While confusions did occur, it also has to be taken into account that a good dose of bureaucratic efficiency was needed to move thousands of prisoners and troops from one extreme to the other of Brazil. More importantly, the central government needed to have a lot of ability to extract so many recruits from the local clientele networks, even though this was facilitated by the occurrence of provincial revolts.

Finally, having brought the other revolts under control, the Empire could direct its power against the republicans in Rio Grande do Sul. The idea of the cabinet was to change the nature of its military intervention, abandoning compromises and the concern with isolating the rebels from influences from the 'Plata' region in order to end the movement once and for all (Souza, 2008, p.401-408). Unlike his predecessors Baron Caxias received command of the operations as well as unprecedented political and material support from the Saquaremas,50 something important, but not in itself sufficient to understand the Imperial victory.

Other conditions also have to be taken into account to understand that context. Unlike the Empire the republicans had limits to the enlistment of new recruits to their forces after so many years of war. Moreover, the accumulation of difficulties created disagreements. 1840 marked the beginning of the destructuration process. It was when important figures left the movement due to the lack of prospects or died. The republicans' hopes worsened due to internal disputes between the groups that made up the directorate of the Republic, since the reciprocal criticisms worsened after successive Imperial victories. The peak of the conflicts occurred in December 1842, when the republicans met to draft a constitution.51

In Guazzelli's opinion, the departure of some leaders weakened the proximity of the republicans with the Prata region. While an imperial victory may have been imminent, no less so was the eruption of a war against the Argentinean Confederation, for which it would have been essential for the Empire to be able to count on the support of the leaders and troops from the province. An agreement between the different parties, in addition to ending with the internal war, would have preserved the Rio Grande do Sul structure of command and a larger number of individuals mobilized for the future.52 Thus, despite being victorious the Imperial state had to allow the Rio Grande elites a certain amount of autonomy. Some similar happened in Pernambuco after the Cabanos War.



This is the moment to reflect on how the central state, in principle dependent on clientele networks to obtain recruits, was able to dispense with this mediation in many places and came to act directly to obtain the recruits it needed. Various answers can be provided to this question, and the variety results from the diversity of provincial realities. Nonetheless, this centralization did not occur overnight, nor in all the regions at the same time, as it also did not overwhelming result from the direct capacity of any single political group.

On process depended on another and influenced it. While decentralization allowed the conditions for the occurrence of the Cabanos Revolt in Pernambuco and Alagoas, Cabanagem in Pará, Farroupilha in the south, Sabinada in Bahia, Balaiada in Maranhão and Piauí, as well as the Liberal Revolts in the current southeast, their resolution was different in each of these situations. In some of these regions, the elites managed to control the internal agitations and the influence of the central state was limited, even after the measures of the Regresso and the Imperial military victories. Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Sul are the most evident cases of this.

The strategic importance of Rio Grande do Sul and the turbulent policies of the Prata region explain why it was not prudent to disorganize the command structure in the province. In Pernambuco after the defeat of the Confederation of Equator, the elites realized that they did not have the internal or external conditions to defeat any political hegemony opposed to Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore, the experiences of the later popular revolts showed the risks of involving the poorer sectors in political demands and marked the need for the unification of provincial policy in favor of large landholders, which resulted in a political alignment of the elite based on the economic interest in the maintenance of social differences, as highlighted by Graham (2001).

This unity was constructed to prevent events which could threaten the existing social structures. Therefore, before the centralization process constructed from Rio de Janeiro, the provincial executive from Recife managed to impose a strong regional unity, at the same time that it appeared alongside the Court to repress new armed movements. It was decided that it was better to align with and contribute to the central power, the sole agent capable of mobilizing resources on a greater scale to repress other possible political risings, without altering the existing social order. This explains why the Pernambucanos participated so significantly in all the subsequent military mobilizations and why the Empire compacted with the provincial elite, stopping nominating presidents for the province after 1835.

The political pacification of Pernambuco was one of the most important elements in the centralization process of the Empire. Of course, the Court authorities had first to have the ability to militarily defeat the seditious elites more than once, as well as the sagacity to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the power of the state in various other regions with the interested assistance of the Pernambuco elites. If this provincial elite had not internally agreed and participated in the efforts against the insurrections, the unfolding of events in Brazil would have been different, and the Empire would have had much more difficulties to put down the revolts during that period.

In Minas Gerais and São Paulo there do not appear to have been many alterations after the 1842 Revolts. It has to be considered that in Minas, as well as in São Paulo, the Revolts were short lasting and do not seem to have implied any social changes, which prevented the building of a new network of authority subordinated to the orders of Court. In these cases an agreement was established between the elites with similar intellectual perspectives, as concluded by Carvalho (2003).

In the provinces in which the elites failed to control the internal order, the central government took advantage to extend its real influence. Processes in which the legal instruments contributed giving legal support and justifying the actions of the central power occurred in the cases of Pará and Maranhão. The elites of these provinces perceived the danger of popular revolts too late, their internal disagreements led them into problems which become unsolvable internally, when they lost control of the disadvantaged social sectors, who were mobilized in an autonomous form.

The repetition of these situations demonstrated the gravity of the divisions among the elites of these provinces, who, weakened and fearful of losing their position, had exhausted their possibilities of negotiation with the central power and ceded authority. The radical disarticulation of the existing order threatened much more the local groups than the strengthening of a political agent external to regional disputes, the central state, even because this agent desired to invigorate the structures of domination shaken by the insurrection, albeit in a slightly different form, and only it was able to mobilize sufficiently capable instruments of coercion. Thus, the more violent the provincial revolt, the more strongly the central state could establish itself.

On their part, the representatives of Rio de Janeiro took advantage of these situations to try to subordinate regional interests that were not consistent with the central state. This strengthening corresponded to the hundreds of new members of the Imperial army torn out of those provinces. In these situations there was little space for political negotiation and the consideration of economic interests, what was more important was the complete military defeat of the popular segments in arms. The National Guard contributed little to this effort, even in the south, to the contrary of what Uricoechea believed.

Bahia was midway between these two extremes. In this province recruitment did not serve as a police instrument of social control as in other parts. However, Baianos were not as subject to military service because the repression of the Sabinada was restricted to Salvador. This did not touch the powers of the backlands and prevented the strengthening of authority of the Court.

Nevertheless, for most of Brazil recruitment was an instrument of social control used because of the destructuring of many provincial elites. It became urgent to exile the participants in insurrections against the authority of traditional ruling groups. The process of imperial centralization occurred through negotiation, as well as coercion, between the central government and the provincial regions. As Centeno noted, civil wars tend to be excellent opportunities for those who manage to channel the efforts to develop the solidity of the state structure and contributed to the formation of national states in Latin America.53

It can thus be concluded that the success of the implementation of the centralizing project begun by the conservatives after 1837 was due, on the one hand to the unease caused by the revolts, and on the other, to the political fragility of some provincial elites and, paradoxically the cohesion and authority of other provincial elites. This discussion allows the establishment of a direct relationship between the eruption and the gravity of revolts and reduction of the autonomy of the respective provinces.



1 Research carried out with funding from Capes.

2 TILLY, Charles. Coerção, capital e estados europeus: 990-1992. Trad. Geraldo G. de Souza. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996. p.78.

3 MANN, Michael. O poder autônomo do Estado: suas origens, mecanismos e resultados. In: HALL, J. A. (Org.). Os Estados na história. Trad. Paulo Vaz, Almir Nascimento e Roberto Brandão. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1992. p.173-182.

4 URICOECHEA, Fernando. O minotauro imperial: a burocratização do Estado patrimonial brasileiro no século XIX. São Paulo: Difel, 1978. p.81-178.

5 CARVALHO, José M. de. A construção da ordem: a elite política imperial. Teatro de sombras: a política imperial. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2003. p.49-92.

6 CARVALHO, José M. de. Pontos e bordados: escritos de história e política. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 1999, p.155-188.

7 MATTOS, Ilmar R. de. O tempo saquarema: a formação do Estado imperial. São Paulo: Hucitec, 2004. p.122-204.

8 GRAHAM, Richard. Construindo uma nação no Brasil do século XIX: visões novas e antigas sobre classe, cultura e estado. Réplica. Diálogos, Maringá (PR): UEM, v.5, p.11-47, 2001.

9 GRAHAM, Richard. Clientelismo e política no Brasil do século XIX. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. UFRJ, 1997.

10 Respectively, Arquivo Nacional (AN), Fundo Série Guerra (SG), IG¹ 140, Santíssima Trindade, 14/3/1839, Juiz de Paz ao Presidente do Rio Grande do Sul; Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do Sul (AHRS), Fundo Requerimentos, Maço (M.) 35, Rio Pardo, 9/4/1826, Venâncio P. Oliveira ao Presidente do Rio Grande do Sul; AN, SG, IG¹ 67, Recife, 22/5/1843, Presidente de Pernambuco a Joaquim J. R. Torres; AHRS, Fundo Autoridades Militares (AM), M. 136, Rio Pardo, 11/11/1841, Brigadeiro Felipe N. de Oliveira ao Presidente do Rio Grande do Sul; Arquivo Histórico do Exército (AHEx), Códice (Cód.) 74, Rio de Janeiro, 17/2/1845, Ministro da Guerra ao Presidente de Santa Catarina.

11 Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do Sul (AHRS), Fundo Polícia, M. 62, Rio Grande, 4/2/1838, José R. C. de Mendonça ao Presidente do Rio Grande do Sul.

12 Relatório do Presidente do Rio de Janeiro, 1841. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

13 KRAAY, Hendrik. Repensando o recrutamento militar no Brasil Imperial. Diálogos, Maringá: UEM, v.3, p.113-151, 1999.

14 IZECKSOHN, Vitor. Recrutamento militar no Rio de Janeiro durante a Guerra do Paraguai. In: CASTRO, C.; IZECKSOHN, V.; KRAAY, H. (Org.). Nova História militar brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: FGV, 2004. p.185-197.

15 BEATTIE, Peter. The tribute of blood. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

16 KRAAY, Hendrik. Race, state, and armed forces in independence-Era Brazil: Bahia, 1790's-1840's. California: Stanford University Press, 2001.

17 CARVALHO, Marcus J. M. de. Os negros armados pelos brancos e suas independências no Nordeste. In: JANCSÓ, I. (Org.). Independência: história e historiografia. São Paulo: Hucitec; Fapesp, 2005. p.881-914.

18 SOUZA, Adriana B. de. Duque de Caxias: o homem por trás do monumento. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2008. p.160-165.

19 ANDRADE, Manuel C. de. A Guerra dos Cabanos. Recife: Ed. UFPE, 2005.

20 Relatório Presidente de Alagoas, 1835. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

21 AHRS, AM, M. 130, Porto Alegre, 3/4/1838, Coronel Luis M. de Jesus ao Visconde de Camamu.

22 MARSON, Izabel A. O império do progresso: a Revolução Praieira em Pernambuco (1842-1855). São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987. p.189-232.

23 QUINTAS, Amaro. O Nordeste. In: HOLANDA, S. B. de (Org.). História geral da civilização brasileira. O Brasil monárquico: dispersão e unidade. 8.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil, 2004. t.2, v.4. p.247-251.

24 AN, SG, IG¹ 66, Recife, 1/9 e 3/12/1839, Ajudante de Ordens da província; IG¹ 66, Recife, 1/8, 1/10 e 1/11/1839, Ajudante de Ordens José B. F. Gama.

25 AN, SG, IG¹ 271, Recife, 2/6/1841, Presidente de Pernambuco ao Comandante das Armas; Recife, 2/2/7/1841, Comandante das Armas ao Ministério da Guerra; Recife, 08/7/1841, ao Presidente de Pernambuco; Recife, 11/7/1841, Presidente de Pernambuco ao Comandante das Armas.

26 RICCI, Magda. O fim do Grão-Pará e o nascimento do Brasil: movimentos sociais, levantes e deserções no alvorecer do Novo Império (1808-1840). In: DEL PRIORE, M.; GOMES, F. dos S. Os senhores dos rios. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2003.

27 Relatório do Ministro da Justiça, 1837. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

28 PINHEIRO, Luís B. S. P. Nos subterrâneos da revolta: trajetórias, lutas e tensões na Cabanagem. Tese (Doutorado em História) - PUC. São Paulo, 1998. p.51-81.

29 Relatórios do Ministro da Justiça, 1836, 1840; relatórios dos Presidentes do Pará, 1840, 1841 e 1842. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

30 ASSUNÇÃO, Matthias R. Cabanos contra bem-te-vis: a construção da ordem pós-colonial no Maranhão (1820-1841). In: DEL PRIORE; GOMES, 2003. p.195-225.

31 SOUZA FILHO, Argemiro R. A província da Bahia no primeiro reinado. In: COSTA, W. P.; OLIVEIRA, C. H. de S. (Org.). De um império a outro: estudos sobre a formação do Brasil, séculos XVIII e XIX. São Paulo: Aderaldo & Rothschild; Fapesp, 2007. p.297-312.

32 REIS, João J. Rebelião escrava no Brasil: a história do Levante dos Malês em 1835. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003. p.105.

33 PINHO, Wanderley. A Bahia, 1808-1856. In: HOLANDA (Org.), 2004. t.2, v.4. p.321.

34 SOUZA, Paulo. C. A Sabinada: a revolta separatista da Bahia (1837). São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987. p.113.

35 AN, SG, IG¹ 66, Recife, 15/6/1840, Francisco do R. Barros a Salvador J. Maciel; IG¹ 173, Rio Grande, 9/7/1838, Antônio E. de M. e Brito ao Ministro da Guerra.

36 MATTOSO, Kátia M. de Q. Bahia, século XIX: uma província do Império. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1992. p.221-291.

37 Relatórios Presidentes da Bahia 1839 a 1845. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

38 Relatórios do Ministério da Guerra, 1839-1850. Available at: Acesso em 11 July 2009.

39 JANOTTI, Maria de L. M. A Balaiada. 2.ed. São Paulo: Brasilense, 1991. p.68.

40 Relatórios dos Presidentes do Maranhão, 1840, 1841. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

41 AN, SG, IG¹ 461, Recife, 15/6/1841, Manoel de S. Teixeira a José C. Pereira; Relatório do Ministro da Justiça, 1841; AN, SG, IG¹ 66, Recife, 20/7/1841, Presidente de Pernambuco a José C. Pereira; IG¹411, Corte, 1/7/1842, Major Wenceslau de O. Belo; IG¹386, Corte, 13/8/1842, Vicente F. da C. Piragibe; AHRS, AM, M. 142, Rio Grande, 4/6/1844, Brigadeiro Luis M. de Jesus ao Barão de Caxias.

42 HOLANDA, Sérgio B. de. São Paulo. In: HOLANDA (Org.), 2004. t.2, v.4. p.521.

43 VELLASCO, Ivan de A. As seduções da ordem: violência, criminalidade e administração da justiça, Minas Gerais, século XIX. Bauru: Edusc, 2004. p.33-64.

44 CUNHA, Alexandre M. A diferenciação dos espaços econômicos e a conformação de especificidades regionais na elite política mineira às primeiras décadas do século XIX. In: COSTA; OLIVEIRA (Org.), 2007. p.210-221.

45 BATISTA, Dimas J. A administração da justiça e o controle da criminalidade no médio sertão do São Francisco, 1830-1880. Tese (Doutorado em História) - USP. São Paulo, 2006.

46 Relatórios dos Presidentes de Minas Gerais, 1843, 1844. Available at: Accessed on 11 July 2009.

47 ARAÚJO, Maria M. Com quantos tolos se faz uma república? Padre Correia de Almeida e sua sátira ao Brasil oitocentista. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG, 2007.

48 MENDES, Fábio F. O tributo de sangue: recrutamento militar e construção do estado no Brasil imperial. Doctoral Dissertation (Political Science) - Iuperj. Rio de Janeiro, 1997. p.102.

49 AHRS, AM, M. 129, Rio Grande, 17/3/1837, Comandante; AN, SG, IG¹ 66, Rio Grande, 16/3/1837, Comandante Joaquim S. de S. Prates; Governo de Pernambuco, 30/5/1837, Tenente Hemetério J. V. da Silveira; IG¹ 172, Rio Grande, 19/12/1837, Antonio E. de M. e Brito ao Ministro da Guerra; IG¹ 173, Porto Alegre, 28/2/1838, Antonio E. de M. e Brito ao Ministro da Guerra; IG¹ 458, arsenal da Marinha, 3/1/1838, Antonio J. de Castro (?) ao Comandante das Armas; AHEx, Cód. 90 (RS), Rio de Janeiro, 10/1/1838, Ministro da Guerra ao Presidente do Rio Grande do Sul.

50 RIBEIRO, José Iran. "De tão longe para sustentar a honra nacional": Estado e Nação nas trajetórias dos militares do Exército Imperial brasileiro na Guerra dos Farrapos. Doctoral Dissertation (Social History) - UFRJ. Rio de Janeiro, 2009.

51 FACHEL, José P. G. Revolução Farroupilha. Pelotas (RJ): UFPEL, 2002. p.51-63.

52 GUAZZELLI, Cesar A. B. O horizonte da província: a República Rio-grandense e os caudilhos do rio da Prata (1835-1845). Doctoral Dissertation (History) - UFRJ. Rio de Janeiro, 1998. p.247.

53 CENTENO, Miguel. A. Blood and debt: war and the Nation-State in Latin America. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park, 2002. p.33-100.



Article received in March 19, 2011.
Approved in October 10, 2011.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License