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The Independence of Brazil followed a series of events that took place from 1821 to 1823. Unlike in most Latin American colonies, Brazilian independence struggle was not marked with violence. This was attributable to an amicable understanding between the Brazilian elites and the colonizers. This scenario resulted into the Portuguese opting to stay away from Brazilian internal affairs after the re-location of the king’s court from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon. Nevertheless, the instability resulting from Napoleon’s aggression of the Iberian Peninsula did play a significant role. The aggression necessitated the transfer of the king’s court to Rio de Janeiro in 1811 (Bethell, 1987), in effect making Rio to become the capital of the Portuguese empire. The relocation prompted the restructuring of Rio de Janeiro and other cities in Brazil into status befitting the capital of an empire. Such improvements thrilled the Brazilian elites who then embraced the Portuguese education and cultural practices (Maxwell, 2003). The monarch, in return, allowed more freedom of expression and trade with foreign powers. This initiative advanced the level of trust between the Brazilians and the Portuguese rulers.
With time, the monarch allowed trade with the British Empire and other nations that had friendly relationships with the Portuguese. Consequently, Brazil became more prosperous than any other nation in Latin America. This prompted the elites and merchants to embrace the Portuguese leadership. They appreciated the efforts made by the monarch in modernizing their nation, especially in terms of trade, infrastructure, and education. As a result, Brazil became the most educated society in Latin America (Bresie, 1972). As the war in the Iberian Peninsula came to an end, the sovereign had liked Brazil so much that he considered staying in Rio. His stand, however, angered the Portuguese who then threatened to remove him from the throne. The threat prompted his reluctant return to Portugal. Even so, he left his son, Pedro I, to act as the regent (Fausto, 1999).
By the time the court was relocated to Portugal; Brazilian elites had served 13 years at the empires political center. As stated earlier, when King Dom Joao VI returned to Portugal, the merchants and elites were against the re-colonization of Brazil. The anxiety was that re-colonization would result into reduction of control in Brazilian provinces. Their fears were aggravated by a possible departure of Regent Pedro I. On learning this, Pedro resolved to remain, irrespective of the pressure exerted on him by the Portuguese Cortes. The Cortes had openly expressed opposition against the dual monarch of Brazil and Portugal, requiring Pedro to hand over to Dia de Fico. After making the official declaration in defiance to the Cortes, Pedro was relieved of his powers as a regent, consequently making him a mere representative in Brazil. When the devastating news reached him as he strolled along the banks of River Ipiranga, he removed his Portuguese shield and unsheathed his sword. Angrily, he declared “Independence or death!” He consequently broke ties with Portugal (Barman, 1994). In the years that followed, his declaration came to be known as “The Cry of Ipiranga”, an announcement that resulted into the Brazilian independence in 1822.
Most officials in the Portuguese court were grateful to Brazil for the duration that Rio acted as a safe refuge for the administration. Moreover, having Pedro I as the new emperor eroded the necessity of going into war with the Brazilian Empire. They considered Pedro as one of their own. Moreover, there were those in the court who feared that his removal would lead to indigenous Brazilians taking power. This would then weaken the relationship between the two jurisdictions (Russell-Wood, 1975). Despite a few instances of dissent, cordial relationship between the two nations persisted, and by August 1825, the Portuguese formally recognized Brazil’s independence. The formal recognition followed a period of intense lobbying by the British who considered Brazil to be an important market.
The independence brought little changes to the Brazilian society. The authorities retained their grip on slavery, a situation which displeased the British. Consequently, the British embarked on a diplomatic effort that aimed at improving the situation in Brazil with regard to slavery. In appreciation to the help that Britain had offered to Brazil, Pedro signed a treaty binding his empire into abolishing slave trade in three years (Bresie, 1972). Additionally, the treaty allowed England preferential access to the empire’s markets in return for protection in legal matters. Since the independence of Brazil had retained the status quo in politics, the abolishing of slave trade made Pedro I unpopular, especially with the planters. His leadership was further weakened by the mismanagement of the economy, the army, and government (Smith & Vinhosa, 2002). Ultimately, his leadership aspirations in Portugal resulted into the end of his reign in Brazil.