Brazilian Independence Day

1888 Oil on canvas painting by Pedro Américo (1843–1903)
Title in English: “Independence or Death” (The Ipiranga Shout) and in Portuguese: “Independência ou Morte” (O Grito do Ipiranga)

The 7th of September was “Independence Day”. The day Brazil commemorates its freedom for the colonization by Portugal. One of the most attractive activities on this day is the Independence parades by the schoolchildren. They are very colourful and a pleasure to look at. Here are some photos.

The Independence of Brazil was the result of a process that culminated in the emancipation policy of the Brazilian territory of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves (1815-1822), in the early nineteenth century, and the institution of the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889), in the same year.

Officially, the date of commemoration was September 7, 1822, the day of the so-called “Grito do Ipiranga”. According to classical historiography, on this date, on the banks of the Ipiranga river (now the city of São Paulo), the Prince Regent of Brazil, then Dom Pedro de Alcântara de Bragança (the future Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil), hailed before his entourage: “Independence or Death” after he had received a letter from Lisbon to return to Portugal immediately.

Certain aspects of this version, however, are disputed by some historians today.

The Independence of Brazil is one of the most important historical facts of the country, as it marks the end of Portuguese rule and the conquest of political autonomy. Many previous attempts occurred and many people died in the struggle for this ideal. The best known case is the Minas Conspiracy led by Tiradentes, commemorated each year on the 21st of April. He was executed by the Portuguese Crown.

On January 9, 1822, D. Pedro received a letter from the courts of Lisbon, demanding his return to Portugal. There are times the Portuguese insisted on this idea, as they purported to recolonize Brazil and the presence of D. Pedro prevented this ideal.

However, D. Pedro responded negatively to calls from Portugal and proclaimed: “If it’s for the good of all and happiness of the nation, say to the people that I stay”.

After this “Dia do Fico”, D. Peter took a series of measures that upset the Portuguese Crown as preparing the way for the independence of Brazil. D. Peter convened a Constituent Assembly, organized the Navy, and forced the Portuguese troops to return to the kingdom.

He also determined that no laws of Portugal would be put into force without his “cumpra-se”, i.e. without his approval. Furthermore, the future emperor of Brazil called on the people to fight for independence.

The prince made a quick trip to Minas Gerais and São Paulo to calm sections of society who were concerned about the recent event, because they believed that all of this could lead to social destabilization.

During the journey, D. Peter received a new letter from Portugal annulling the Constituent Assembly and demanded his immediate return to the mother country.

This news reached the hands of D. Pedro when he was traveling from Santos to São Paulo. Near the river of Ipiranga, he raised his sword and shouted “Independence or Death”. This occurred on September 7, 1822 and marked the Independence of Brazil.

In December 1822, D. Pedro was declared emperor of Brazil.

All photos: Shirley Penaforte (O Liberal)