With Napoleon and the Peninsular Wars, and the invasion and occupation of Spain and Portugal, Dom João VI, the seventeenth king of Portugal, fled Lisbon and established his court in Rio de Janeiro, where for the next 13 years, he ruled Portugal’s Asian, African, and American colonies. Although Dom João VI (1769-1826) never ruled over an independent Brazil, historians call him the "Founder of the Brazilian Nationality." One of his major contributions to the growth of Brazil was opening the colony's ports to free trade with friendly nations, thus signaling a marked change in trade and the resulting improved consequence of Brazil. Additionally, Dom João VI spearheaded the founding of the Academia Naval (Naval Academy), Hospital Militar (Military Hospital), Arquivo Militar (Military Archives), Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden), Intendência Geral de Polícia (Police Commissariat), Real Biblioteca (Royal Library), the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil), and the gunpowder factory. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, he thought it safe to make Brazil another kingdom equal to Portugal. He also decided to remain in Brazil.
The Portuguese government disagreed with both decisions and in 1820 sent troops to assist his relocation to Portugal where the army headed a revolution designed to bring about a constitutional government with Dom João as the constitutional monarch. Dom João returned to Portugal, leaving his 23-year-old son Pedro as prince regent of Brazil. Pedro actively engaged in enlisting support from both able advisors and the people of Brazil.
With revolutions and the desire for independence active in other Latin American countries, Pedro realized Brazil would soon wish for the same. With the support of the Brazilian people and the Brazilian Senate who had bestowed on him the title of Defensor e Protetor Perpétuo do Brasil, Protector and Perpetual Defender of Brazil, he defied an order to return to Portugal. When the Portuguese parliament wished to return Brazil to colonial status, Pedro seized the moment. On September 7, 1822, after receiving orders from the Portuguese parliament limiting his powers in Brazil, Pedro declared Brazil’s independence near the Ipiranga River in São Paulo. Tearing the Portuguese blue and white insignia from his uniform, Pedro drew his sword, and swore: "By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free." Their motto, he said, would beIndependência ou Morte, Independence or Death! This statement is known as the Grito do Ipiranga. (by Bonnie Hamre)
|Each Brazilian Independence Day thousands watch the military parade in Brasília, photo by Jorge Andrade/Flickr Creative Commons License.|