Emperor Pedro I
Pedro I of Brazil.PNG
Portrait of Pedro I
Emperor of Brazil
Reign 12 October 1822 - 4 November 1865
Coronation 1 December 1822
Successor Pedro II
Full name
Pedro de Alcantara Francisco Antonio Joao Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim Jose Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim
Pedro I of Brazil (October 12, 1798 - November 4, 1865) was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil. He was also King of Portugal as Pedro IV, serving 2 months in Portugal and 48 years in Brazil. His full name was Pedro de Alcântara Francisco António João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim.


Pedro I began his reign on October 12, 1822, which also was the day of his 24th birthday. South America was currently in the middle of wars of independence against Spain and Portugal, which ripped apart the land. The first thing Pedro did was unite the land that was to become Brazil. He crowned himself Emperor, and modeled Brazil after the French Empire. The Napoleonic concept of Empire as a more modern and progressive form of monarchy helped unify Rio de Janeiro with the rest of the country.

In 1823, Pedro I was tasked with drafting a constitution. Brazil was divided between the Brazilian Party, who favored a costitutional monarchy, and the Portuguese Party, who favored an absolute monarchy. Pedro decided to give himself substantial, something that the Brazilian Party didn't agree with. Worse, fights broke out between members of the two parties. After exiling and jailing many people, a new, but similar, constitution was drafted.

In 1825, war broke out between Brazil and Argentina over control of Uruguay. The war ended two years later, and brought military and financial devastation to Brazil, which lost the war. On a brighter side, Pedro I's son, Pedro II, was born.

In order to bring moral back to life, Pedro initiated many plans. New roads, buildings, and even towns were built. More jobs were created, such as mining, woodcutting, and farming. Agricultural products such as coffee were exported to the United States, who then imported manufactured goods to Brazil. A new standing army was created, and its weapons and tactics were improved. Popularity of the Emperor improved, which had waned after the war with Argentina.

In the 1830s, the "Americas Rift" gripped the two continents. North America and Columbia looked at each other menacingly, tearing at each other's throats. Brazil decided to stay neutral in this matter, with Pedro continuing his plans. However, Brazil still looked at Uruguay, one day hoping for control.

Map of americas 1838

The Americas after the Americas War ended.

In 1834, the broke out, but Brazil was still neutral. In 1837, United States Ambassador to Brazil, William Hunter, asked Pedro if Brazil could enter the war on North America's side. Pedro I allegedly replied "First win a battle." Two months later, the North Americans defeated the Columbians in Costa Rica, capturing Columbian commander Antonio Sucre in battle. This won Pedro I's support, and Brazilian troops were sent in.

Brazil fought in the Argentina Front. After winning several decisive battles in Paraguay, Brazil turned its attention to its long time goal: Uruguay. Brazilian troops won the Battle of Monteviedo, completing its conquest of Uruguay. Pedro visited the soldiers there, handing them the Brazilian Medal, the highest honor available in the Brazilian military. Brazil then fought at the Battle of La Paz, which was the capital of Columbia. Brazilian troops played a major part, including killing Columbian leader Jose de San Martin, and capturing the presidential palace. In the end, Brazil was the winner, getting its revenge against Argentina.

After the war ended, a short period of depression entered Brazil. Pedro guided Brazil through the depression, continuing his plans. Once the United States began to send economic help to Central America did Brazil's economy really soar. Brazil once again became one of the United States biggest trading partners, the only nation close to that feat was Panama. Pedro's popularity soared, and a second son, Carlos, was born.

Flag of the Second Empire of Brazil

Flag of the Brazilian Empire.

In the late 1840s, Argentina entered civil war, and several groups crossed the border into Brazil. Pedro was not going to allow this, and sent Brazil's army there to fight them, which is now known as the Brazilian Intervention. Brazil captured several Argentinian territories. They became part of Brazil, and several roads were built to connect them to the other Brazilian territories.

When the War of 1847 ended, the French Empire was defeated and abolished, as well as the Iberian Union. The Union became a democracy, overthrowing the monarchy. In an effort to make relationships with the new nations, Pedro I sent his son there to meet with the second prime minister, Antonio Bernardo da Costa Cabral. The two met at Bernardo's palace, and a week later the Brazilian-Iberian Alliance was formed. Pedro I had found Brazil's most trusted ally.

In 1852, the Great Slave Rebellion struck all of Brazil, which still allowed slavery. Farms were shut down, and Brazil's agricultural output were down as well. Pedro ordered the army to put down the rebellion. A year later in 1853, Brazil's military finally put the rebellion down. The fighting left a stain on Brazil: thousands of people were killed or injured, and many villages were devastated. Around 10,000 slaves were excuted by the government during the fighting. After the rebellion, Pedro had to decided whether to free the slaves or not. Slavery greatly helped the economy in Brazil; Brazil was the world's largest producer of sugar. But on the other hand, more slave rebellions could break out, and Brazil might lose its internation status. Pedro decided to abolish slavery, and by 1856 all the slaves in Brazil were freed.

In 1857, eleven states in America seceeded, and a few months later the American Civil War started. Several nations in South America attacked Brazil, which made the country enter the war. As he did before, Pedro visited his troops on the front. One of the commanders in the war was Pedro II, and he won several battles in Guyana. Cuba also invaded Brazil's Canary Islands in one of the bloodiest campaigns in the war. In the end, Brazil won the battle, and eventually the Confederate States, Cuba, and the nations of former Columbia were defeated in 1859. Times were good in Brazil.

However, the emperor's health began to decay. He was getting older; in 1865 he was 67 years old. On November 4, 1865, Pedro I peacefully passed away, handing the right to rule to his son, Pedro II.


Statue of Pedro I

Statue of Pedro I in Rio de Janeiro.

Pedro I of Brazil was, and still is, the most beloved man in Brazil. He guided Brazil through many wars, and most of the time Brazil came out on top. Pedro kept Brazil afloat during its early years, and made its economy boom for several decades. He also oversaw the creation of alliances with many nations, including the United States of America and the Iberrean Union. Without Pedro, the creation of Brazil could have gone differently, and perhaps Brazil might not have existed as a country at all.

Many historians claim that Pedro was one of the best emperors of Brazil. His son Pedro II continued Pedro I's ways, and guided Brazil through the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

Pedro I's birthday, October 12, is celebrated all across Brazil as a holiday known as Emperor Day.

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