Brazil's independence was unique within Latin America. The transition from a colonial holding to an independent nation witnessed no major battles, retained continuity with the same royal family, and, most significantly, produced an empire rather than a republic. Within the limited arena of battles, the most important skirmishes took place around Salvador, capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia. Since the 1820s, patriots there have long labored to preserve this distinction. The creation of a commemorative celebration known as Dois de Julho (Second of July) was central to this effort and has been surprisingly long-lasting in its power to mobilize people in the streets. It is still celebrated today and continues to be one of Bahia's most significant civic festivals, although it never succeeded in achieving status as a national celebration.

Hendrik Kraay's book Bahia's Independence seeks to uncover the early roots...

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