Hipólito José da Costa and the Correio Braziliense

Hipólito José da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça, one of the most important journalists in the history of Brazil, was born in 1800 of March 1774, in the distant colony of Sacramento (Uruguay). After completing his first studies in Porto Alegre, he went to the University of Coimbra (1793), from which he graduated with a degree in Mathematics, Philosophy, Law and Laws in 1798. As soon as he graduated, he received from D. Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho, then Minister of the Navy and Overseas, the task of traveling to the United States of America and learning useful things, related to agriculture and industry, that could serve Brazil.

Back to Portugal (1800), and already initiated in Freemasonry, Hipólito José da Costa joined the board that managed the Royal Press. In 1798, he was denounced by the Portuguese Inquisition for Masonic practice and was forced to flee to London, where he lived under the protection of the Duke of Sussex. . In 1808, he founded in the English capital his renowned Correio Braziliense , the first newspaper , written by a Brazilian, circulating in Brazil. When presenting his ambitious project, Hipólito recorded: “No one more useful than that which is intended to show, with evidence, the events of the present, and to remove the shadows of the future. Such has been the work of the editors of public sheets […]”.

The journalist belatedly adhered to the cause of Independence and accepted it as an unwanted but inevitable fact. Until he realized this inevitability, he used his pen to defend a Constitutional United Kingdom, with broad freedom of the press and a liberal economy, along the lines of the English one. Hipólito stopped writing and publishing his Correio… shortly after Independence, and died, at 49 years, months after (September of 1808) he put an end to his life’s project. The essay we publish today, dated February 1822, is a warning to the Portuguese Courts, whose successive recolonizing attitudes, in Hipólito’s eyes, left no other path for Brazil except to proclaim its Independence.

Union of Portugal with Brazil

Up until now, we have looked at this question of the union of Portugal and Brazil as one of great use for both countries and, at the same time, , on the supposition that, Brazil being so superior to Portugal in resources of every kind, the objection to the continuation of this union came from some inconsiderate persons in Brazil, who desired the separation of the two countries before it could take place by order ordinary of things.

In this supposition, recommending the union, we have always directed our arguments to the brasilienses, not even occurring to us the possibility that in the European Portuguese there could exist these ideas of disu. nion; because their usefulness, in the union of the two countries, was of the first evidence.

But, unfortunately, we think that things are going quite the opposite, and that it is between the Portuguese and some Brazilians, and not among Brasilienses, who encourage and adopt measures for this separation, which we have deemed imprudent for being untimely; and that we have fought, on the assumption that the European Portuguese would help us in our efforts, to prevent, at least for a while, our split.

We showed, in our last issue, the series of measures, which we call wrong, on the assumption that this union was desired in Portugal; but it would no longer be an involuntary error, if the Cortes and the Portuguese government really want such a separation. And now, with further information on the feelings that exist in Portugal in this regard, it is to the Portuguese that we will address our arguments in favor of union. If you don’t want to listen to us, you can be sure that, if what Brazil loses in the separation is much, it is much less than what Portugal will suffer; because, finally, for Portugal this separation may even mean the loss of its existence as a nation.

The Portuguese who look with contempt on the union of Brazil are based on the prejudices that we have already noted in our last issue and they argue with totally false principles.

They claim, first, that the union of Portugal with Spain is more advantageous, more natural and easier than the union with Brazil. Hence, the union with Brazil is pernicious, because it depletes the population of Portugal, with the continued emigration to Brazil. Then, that the union of Brazil with Portugal can be compared to the friendship of the rich man with the poor man, in which everything is always for the benefit of the rich.

But if these reasons are those that induce the government of Portugal to despise how Brazil’s business has been doing, let us understand each other, be sincere, declare Brazil independent at once; and do not encourage parties there that will produce civil war, with peoples beheading one another; let it be declared that Portugal does not need Brazil, and thus prevent the evils of war; which, when it starts, cannot fail to have the same success as in Spanish America.

Brazil was given the name of the Kingdom, but that remained in appearances; now the constitutional government kept the name, but stripped it of all appearances of Kingdom, abolishing the superior courts in Rio de Janeiro; in a way that made Brazil retrograde its dignity as a Kingdom, which it had in appearance, thus causing unnecessary humiliation in the spirits of those peoples; because, finally, there is no one who is satisfied with walking backwards in dignity; how much more, that bringing the people of Brazil their resources to Lisbon, when they used to have them in Rio de Janeiro, is not only losing in dignity, but also losing a lot in comfort.

The system of Governing Boards, in the different provinces of Brazil, is a direct means of removing Brazil from the category of Kingdom, tearing it into divisions; and to make this evil more perceptible, the said Provincial Boards do not have an armed force, nor do they govern public revenues; which, on purpose, puts a seed of discord in each province, at the same time that it separates the provinces from one another. to make Lisbon the emporium of commerce in Brazil, as the reader will be able to see from what happened in the session 271; which everything tends to show the plan to make Brazil retrograde its dignity as a Kingdom and reduce it to its former state of dependence on Portugal; which is not union, but subjection; and what should be done was the union, which we recommend, of the two Kingdoms, but not the subjection of Brazil to Portugal, as a colony or conquest; such we never had in view; and if we had it, no Brasiliense would accommodate to that.

We strongly protest against the impolite measure of sending troops to Brazil, as useless for the purpose for which they were intended, because this a handful of troops were not able to contain Brazil subject to Portugal by force; we also protest against the measure, as pernicious, because these troops would serve to remember the atrocities in Pernambuco. If our protests were weightless, because they belong to a single individual, they should at least deserve attention because they are published in a periodical that has always advocated the cause of the reasonable liberty of peoples, that liberty compatible with the state of society; and of all that liberty with no more restrictions than are absolutely necessary; there is a king or there is no king, but following a coherent system.

Despite everything we have said, troops have continued to be sent to Brazil; and lately left Lisbon, on 16 January, the division with the expeditionary corps to Rio de Janeiro, with a stopover in Pernambuco; and despite knowing in Lisbon that, with the withdrawal of Rego, everything was accommodated there.

There appears the expedition of 1.190 men, namely: 524 infantry battalion squares number 3; 271 of infantry battalion number 4; 49 from a driver company. These ships occupy: the nau D. João VI; Royal Carolina frigate; plows Oreste, Count of Peniche, Princess Royal; Fênix transports, Sete de Março.

Now, if the Brasilienses wish to become independent, the number of these troops is, as we have said, too small to contain them with these forces; but even if they were greater, the success would not match the intent. We have already seen that in Brazil the salaries of the troops were increased, in order to ingratiate them with the constitutional system; the troops very willingly accepted this increase. Now, if Brazil wanted to become independent and it was necessary for it to neutralize these troops, it would only have to increase their pay and promise to keep them to all who wanted to leave, give them lands where they could settle and an allowance for your principle. And which Portuguese soldier, with these advantages before his eyes, would want to wage war on his benefactor Brazil?

There is now a rumor that the government of Portugal, knowing its weakness, seeks to use foreign forces to subjugate Brazil; we mention this to show the error of such a measure and to ask, emphatically, that they give it up.

It is asserted that the Portuguese government had asked France for military aid and had offered it in compensation the transfer of territories in Portuguese Guiana next to Pará.

In addition to the atrocity that this measure involves of dismembering Brazil, which will extremely irritate all Brasilienses, it is not possible for England to see such a cession with indifference; and the British Cabinet can no longer look at its political connections with Portugal from the same point of view that it once did.

A booklet with this title has just been published in London: “ State of the Nation at the beginning of 1822”. This work is a manifesto of the English ministers, in which they expose to the nation the principles which they have followed and which they propose to follow in their administration; and examines the different departments of Finance, Military, Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, etc. In the Foreign Affairs section, speaking of Portugal, he says: “In the past, England’s alliance with Portugal was to counterbalance the power of the Bourbons. The reasons for this alliance no longer exist; and the opening of Brazil’s ports makes it doubtful to follow this policy; because the commercial connections with France are more advantageous than with Portugal, and the political connections lean towards Brazil”.

It is clear that, when Portugal seeks this assistance from France and England being at least neutral, if Brazil wanted its Independence, it would also seek external assistance and would find it very ready in Lord Cochrane’s fleets and in the armies of Colombia and the rest of Spanish America, which are now unoccupied, since Spain it no longer has the means to continue the war and is going to recognize the independence of its former colonies.

To avoid this combination, the Portuguese government is considering another dismemberment of Brazil by the South, yielding to Buenos Aires Montevideo, and thus leaving the borders of the Rio Grande open and vulnerable, which is undoubtedly a great calamity for Brazil, and of manifest injustice to the peoples of Montevideo, who have already declared themselves an integral part of Brazil.

These projects explain why the Cortes p they sent the minister the plans for the limits between Rio Grande and Montevideo; and why the European ministry in Brazil, before El Rei’s departure, advised him to recognize the independence of Spanish America, as the document shows; without even waiting to be asked to take advantage of the negotiation; such was the haste with which the Portuguese ministry wanted to take Montevideo from Brazil.

The agent of El Rei, in Buenos Aires, says in this document that El Rei is willing to recognize that independence ; because he regards as lawful every government that is of the will of the people; according to this principle, having declared the peoples of Montevideo that they wanted to be an integral part of Brazil; it should belong to the east and not to Buenos Aires.

But, returning to our point, even if the Portuguese government manages, through this transfer of Montevideo, to neutralize Buenos Aires, and even more Spanish America about Brazil, if it wants to be independent, it will not be able to do the same as did Colombia? Will it not be able to look for weapons in foreign countries as Venezuela and Chile did? Couldn’t you take out loans, if you didn’t have the resources you have, as all the sections of Spanish America did in England, where debt securities are today at a much higher value than Spanish debt securities? Could Brazil not arm privateers, at least with the ease with which Artigas armed them?

We hope, therefore, that the Portuguese government takes these reflections into account and that it is persuaded of how wrong is their policy to use force or some coercive means against Brazil, which will willingly remain united with Portugal, if they do not want to make it subject.

that the absurd ideas of subjecting Brazil have been taken to such an extent by some Portuguese that there are even those who are considering the plan of prohibiting foreigners from settling in the interior of Brazil, and that they are only allowed to trade in sea ports; and that even with the restrictions that have already been indicated in the Courts.

These errors and others, which we have pointed out, are known even in Portugal; but it is essential that Correio Braziliense indicates them and that it protests against them, lest it be said that all Brasilienses approve of them; but that there are, even in Portugal, those who think like us, we will show it with the following extract from Astro da Luzitania.

“From what we can gather from the facts and from the many letters we received, we found no reason to suspect that the independence party there (in Pernambuco) had an influence; but we will not be surprised if in two or three months things change face; because great promoters of an untimely Brazilian Independence exist in Lisbon. The promoter of this Independence is Mr. Magiochi, from what he said of the Americans, right at the beginning of the Cortes; The prosecutor is Mr. Miranda, for saying that even the most erudite Brazilians had no idea what the Constitution was and for defending Luís do Rego, the label of morals and good customs; the promoter of Independence is Mr Serpa Machado, calling the heads of the government of Goiânia to rise; The entire Congress is the promoter, because among them there was no one who raised the voice of thunder, when with so much injustice it was intended to silence Mr. Ferreira, who wanted to advocate the cause of his slandered province; promoter is the minister, for having treated Brazil’s affairs with such carelessness; Prosecutor is Jacinto José Dias de Carvalho, who is very careful, showing letters from those in Pernambuco who gave money to the war, at the same time asking not to show those who speak in favor of Pernambuco; the great promoter, in short, will be the Congress, if it does not solemnly disapprove of all the attacks committed by Luís do Rego.”

After this series of facts, the Commission of the Courts presents of Brazil, in the session 271, a report that concludes by recommending that it be proclaimed to the peoples of Brazil, making them see what are the the articles of the Constitution that have been approved and what measures have been taken for the benefit of those peoples, and the impartiality with which these affairs have been dealt with. That is, for the Courts in Brazil to believe in this impartiality against the evidence of their eyes; that they believe, against the fact, that it was some brother of Brazil contemplated in the general promotions of the ministers of State, of the councilors of State, of the governors of Brazil, of the diplomatic corps; that they believe, against the fact, that Rego’s atrocities were punished and he was imprisoned in a tower for the deaths he caused in Pernambuco; that the governor of Maranhão etc. etc. were punished.

But what little use are such statements against the evidence of the senses!

Back to top button