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AN EARLY DIPLOMATIC CONTROVERSY BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES AND BRAZIL
It was two years after the United States formally declared for the recognition of the new Latin-American states and after several SpanishAmerican states had been recognized before the question of recognizing Brazil arose. When, in April, 1824, Rebello presented himself in Washington as the Brazilian chargé, a difference of opinion arose in Monroe's cabinet, because Brazil was a monarchy, while all of the other American governments were republics, and some hoped that monarchy might have no foothold on the continent. Others, however, advocated the recognition of Brazil the more strongly because it was a monarchy in order to show the world that it was the fact of independence which actuated the United States rather than the form of government.
The opposition to recognition was strengthened by recent news of a formidable separatist movement in the north, with Pernambuco as a center, the purpose of which was to establish an independent republic under the name of the Federation of the Equator. This raised a serious doubt whether the government at Rio de Janeiro were really in effective control. It was reported, too, that the assistance of French naval vessels had been accepted in order to repress the Pernambuco revolt. This conjured up the specter of the so-called Holy Alliance, for the exclusion of which from America Monroe's famous message of the preceding December had declared. There was also a strong suspicion, supported by persistent rumors, that Dom Pedro (who had allowed himself to be made Emperor when in 1822 Brazilian independence from Portugal was declared, who had summoned a constituent assembly and then quarreled with it and finally forcibly dismissed it because it proved too liberal to suit his ideas of prerogative,
and who had appointed a council that had drawn up a fairly liberal constitution in harmony with his wishes which he had not yet taken the oath to observe) really wished to restore Portuguese sovereignty and rule Brazil as a vassal of his father, the King of Portugal. About the middle of May, however, word came that in the preceding March the Emperor had taken the oath to the constitution of the independent Brazilian Empire. After Rebello had given assurances concerning the suppression of the slave trade and the observance of treaties that had been negotiated with Portugal, he was formally received by President Monroe as Brazilian chargé on May 26, 1824. He expressed his gratitude that "the Government of the United States has been the first to acknowledge the independence of Brazil.” 1
This was the beginning of what for a time promised to be very cordial relations between the two Powers. On the occasion of his presentation Rebello had suggested a “concert of American Powers to sustain the general system of American independence.” In January of the next year, before the mother country had yet recognized the independence of Brazil, he proposed formally that the United States should enter into an alliance with Brazil to sustain the latter's independence in case Portugal should be assisted by any other Power in an attempt to restore her former sway over Brazil. He suggested that in certain contingencies the Spanish-American countries might be invited to adhere to the proposed alliance to protect them against a similar danger. This very early proposal of a Pan-American league is interesting and the United States reply to it is significant as being an early interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine. The proposal was made only a few weeks before the close of the Monroe administration and was not answered until shortly after the Adams administration had taken control, when Henry Clay, the Secretary of State, an enthusiastic advocate of the cause of South American independence, replied that, while the President adhered to the principles set forth in the message of his predecessor of December 2, 1823, the prospect of a speedy peace between Portugal and Brazil seemed to make such an alliance unnecessary; but, he said, if there should be a renewal of
1 Adams, C. F., Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, VI, 280, 281, 283, 285, 308, 311, 314, 317, 328, 354, 358.
; Ibid., 358, 475.
demonstrations on the part of the European allies against the independence of the American states, the President would give to that condition of things every consideration which its importance would undoubtedly demand. This did not promise anything definite, yet it could be legitimately interpreted to mean that in case the contemplated emergency should arise the executive department would be disposed, so far as it was able, to assist the new states in maintaining their independence; but, Clay explained, the executive department could not bind the United States Government to support the policy, nor could it act alone, since to engage in war to support the independence of the new countries would require the consent of Congress.
When the question of the recognition of Brazil by the formal reception of her chargé, Rebello, was pending, Adams, then Secretary of State, said it would be advisable to appoint at the same time, or very soon thereafter, a chargé to represent the United States at Rio de Janeiro; and suggested that the appointment be conferred on Condy Raguet, a wealthy merchant, editor, author, and political economist of Philadelphia, who since 1822 had been residing at Rio de Janeiro as commercial agent, or consul, of the United States. President Monroe, however, thought the appointment might be deferred; and did not make it before the end of his administration, in spite of the fact that Rebello had manifested an earnest desire that the post should be filled in order to complete the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Among the many diplomatic appointments sent to the Senate immediately after the beginning of the Adams administration, March, 1825, was that of “Condy Raguet of Pennsylvania, chargé d'affaires to Brazil.” His instructions were prepared in April."
When Raguet's promotion and instructions reached him dark days were approaching for the new government to which he was thus accredited; and its troubles were destined to involve him in serious
• Robertson, W. S., South America and the Monroe Doctrine, Political Science Quarterly, XXX, 82–105; Manning, William R., Statements, Interpretations, and Applications of the Monroe Doctrine, etc., 1823-1845, Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 1914, 35.
· Adams, C. F., Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, VI, 475, 520, 530.
difficulties because of his new and more responsible position. All of these troubles grew out of a war in which Brazil found herself engaged with the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, or Argentina, over their conflicting interests in the region which emerged from the war about three years later as the independent republic of Uruguay, because of which fact this is usually spoken of as the War for Uruguayan Independence.
This quarrel over the Banda Oriental, or Eastern Province, as it had been known in Spanish colonial history, was inherited from the mother countries. The boundary line between the Portuguese dominions in Brazil and the Spanish possessions in the Rio de la Plata region had never been settled, although there had been many conflicts and many attempts at settlement throughout the colonial age, but especially during the last century, the eighteenth. For a few years after the beginning of the general Spanish-American revolution in 1810, Montevideo, the principal center of Spanish authority in the Banda Oriental, remained faithful to the mother country in spite of repeated and sustained efforts of the revolutionary government at Buenos Aires to revolutionize and dominate it.
Finally, in 1814, under the leadership of Artigas, a native of the province, with the assistance of Buenos Airean troops, the last remnant of Spanish authority was overthrown. Artigas insisted, however, that the region should not be subjected to Buenos Aires, and forcibly resisted the determined efforts of that city to control it. The Portuguese court at Rio de Janeiro still claimed the region as its Cisplatine Province and hoped to get peaceable possession by taking advantage of the rivalries between the Spanish factions. But Artigas was as determined to maintain independence of Portugal as of Spain or Buenos Aires. Apprehensive of an attack, he unwisely invaded neighboring Portuguese territory. The Portuguese retaliated, repeatedly defeated him, and finally in 1820 he fled to Paraguay, leaving them in control. In 1821 a special congress was convened at Montevideo under Portuguese authority, composed of representatives from all of the Cisplatine Province, which declared the region incorporated in the Portuguese dominions of Brazil. When, in the following year, the independent Brazilian Empire was proclaimed, it incorporated the Cisplatine
Province and retained peaceable possession for three years. So little opposition was there to Brazilian rule that the actual government was left largely in the hands of natives of the province, who administered affairs in the name of Brazil. The Government at Buenos Aires, however, never yielded its claim, and made repeated attempts to reach by negotiation a settlement of the conflicting claims in such a manner that the region might become a part of the United Provinces. A little after the middle of 1823 a special Buenos Airean commission went to the Brazilian court and presented a series of notes making propositions for a settlement that would be acceptable to Buenos Aires. No response having been made, a reply was demanded in February, 1824. The reply, which was given on the day following the demand, was a long, courteous, but firm statement of the Brazilian claim and Brazilian rights, and concluded with the declaration: “Therefore, on these important considerations, the Government of His Imperial Majesty can not enter with Buenos Aires on a negotiation which has for its fundamental basis the cession of the Cisplatine State, the inhabitants of which it can not abandon.” The special commission returned and reported its failure to the Government at Buenos Aires; and conditions remained in statu quo for about another year.6
When, early in 1825, news reached Buenos Aires of the crushing defeat of the last important Spanish army in Peru near the end of the preceding year, a number of Uruguayan refugees residing in that city determined to free their native province from the rule of the Brazilian Emperor or perish in the attempt. Under the leadership of La Valleja, they organized the famous band of adventurers immortalized in Uruguayan history as the “Treinta y Tres,” or Thirty-three. Of this army of thirty-three, fifteen were officers and eighteen privates. Of course, they expected to recruit a real army from their compatriots in Uruguay; and they succeeded. Even Rivera, the Uruguayan who had been the chief executive of the province in the name of Brazil, joined the rebels. Most other officials followed his example, nearly the whole of the province being quickly lost, except Montevideo, the
10 décembre, 1825, British and
5 Manifeste de la Cour de Rio de Janeiro, Foreign State Papers, XIII, 775–783.