Political Loyalties and 19th-Century Brazilian Narratives on the Causes of the Paraguayan War, 186470

Saturday, January 5, 2019: 1:30 PM
Wabash Room (Palmer House Hilton)
Keila Grinberg, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
In 1899, the well-known Brazilian politician Joaquim Nabuco (1849-1910), a liberal monarchist, devoted a few pages of his masterpiece Um Estadista do Império to the defense of his party colleague José Antonio Saraiva (1823-1895), who had been criticized as the person responsible for the outbreak of the so-called Paraguayan War (1864-1870), the worst conflict in South America history. A special envoy of the Brazilian government in Montevideo, Saraiva had been entrusted to negotiate an agreement with the Uruguayan government about the ongoing conflicts on the border between the two countries. Having failed in his mission, Saraiva spent the rest of his long political career defending himself against the accusation that he had been unable to prevent this prolonged and devastating war. In his work, Nabuco claimed that it was thanks to Saraiva that Brazil had managed to settle the agreements with Argentina and the Colorado Party in Uruguay, forming the Triple Alliance, allowing Brazil to play “the role of the disinterested representative of civilization and freedom in South America.” Nabuco maintained that Saraiva “truly had been the bearer of the new message of peace and goodwill between Brazilians and Argentines.” Why was it so important for Nabuco to defend Saraiva from accusations about his role in the war? What motivated this loyalty between the two politicians? In this presentation, I will consider Joaquim Nabuco’s loyalty to José Antonio Saraiva in light of the role played by the Liberal Party in the final decades of the Brazilian Empire (1860s-1880s); more importantly, I intend to analyze the ways in which this loyalty constituted a fundamental element in the construction of the Brazilian liberal monarchist narrative on the causes of the outbreak of the Paraguayan War.
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