Studies of the colonial period in Spanish America long have emphasized the non-participation of the locally born in major economic, political, and social institutions of the colonies.1 Historians of colonial Brazil also have accepted this hypothesis and have claimed that the exclusion of native-born Brazilians from positions of power within major colonial institutions resulted in conflict between them and inhabitants of Brazil born in Portugal. The birthplace factor has often been thought to have created hostile divisions within the society of the late colonial period, and to have played a vital role in the development of the desire for independence.2

Preliminary study of the composition of the Bahian elite in the late colonial period indicates that participation in major colonial institutions was not determined by place of birth. Brazilian-born colonists held positions at all levels in the fiscal-administrative bureaucracy and in the military officer corps. Study also indicates that place of birth was not a significant source of conflict in Bahian society. The Portuguese-born and Brazilian-born of the Bahian elite had reciprocal familial and economic ties which provided a unity of outlook and interest. There was little cause for conflict based on birthplace to occur within the Bahian elite. An examination also suggests that the nativity factor per se played a very minor role in the development of the desire for independence. For most of the colonial period the Portuguese Empire and its administrative bureaucracy adequately served the interests of the members of the Bahian elite, whether Brazilian or Portuguese born. Throughout the years before 1808 the empire and the colonial elites were mutually sustaining. Few colonists entertained ideas of seeking independence until the second and third decades of the nineteenth century, when the objectives and interests of many of the local elite came into conflict with those of the decision makers in Portugal.

The elite of Bahia in the late colonial period is considered here as consisting of the wealthiest rural landowners, the wealthiest merchants, those who occupied the highest posts in the fiscal-administrative bureaucracy, and those who held the highest ranks in the regular or reserve military forces. Data on ecclesiastical elites were not collected for this study, and that group will not be discussed.

The socio-economic relationships between these groups indicate the elite’s tendency slowly to absorb new members while maintaining a high degree of exclusivity. The elite sought to use the economic and bureaucratic structures of the colony to strengthen and insure their socio-economic position.

Economic Elites

Landowning Sector

The landowning elite was composed of those who owned large plantations with sugar-milling facilities, the senhores de engenho of the Recôncavo, and the owners of vast cattle-raising estates of the sertão. While only fragmentary data on their wealth has been unearthed, they evidently were men of considerable economic power. In 1752 “a very ordinary engenho” with equipment, land, and forty slaves was valued at 15:394$000. The wealthy planter owned more than one mill, his total landholdings were greater than sixty hectares, and he held at least seventy-five slaves.3 The estimated mean gross income of Bahian engenhos in 1754 was 1:906$000, and many planters owned more than one engenho. Several planters apparently had gross incomes of more than 5:000$000. One grossed about 7:700$000 and the largest, who owned four establishments, had a gross income of at least 13:000$000. The relative wealth of the planters may be suggested by comparing these gross incomes with the annual salaries of highly-placed government officers. In 1756 the viceroy was paid 4:800$000, the archbishop 2:400$000, and an infantry colonel 702$000.4

The landowning elite exhibited characteristics of endogamy. This in conjunction with planned inheritances, and the careful concentration of dowry funds for selected family members resulted in extended family ties which frequently operated as an important means of consolidating, preserving, and promoting wealth and social distinction.5 For example, Christovão da Rocha Pita, a captain major of a militia unit for most of the late eighteenth century, was related to most of the important planting families of the period—the Brandões, Marinhos e Falcões, Vilas Boas, Correas de Sá, Bittencourts, Calmons, Argolos, Fuizas, Araújo Azevedos. His daughter married a cousin, Master of the Field Garcia d’Avila Pereira de Aragão. Garcia d’Avila was a member of one of the oldest senhor de engenho and cattle baron families in all of Brazil.6

The senhores de engenho of Mataripe, near São Francisco do Conde, married members of the same families through several generations. Egas Carlos de Souza Moniz Barreto de Menezes, who died in 1796, married Maria Francisca da Conceiçâo de Aragão e Menezes, the daughter of Antônio Machado Velho Junior and Antônia Maria de Aragão e Menezes. Antônio Machado’s mother was the daughter of another close relative, Egas Moniz Barreto de Menezes.7

While effort and ability obviously played a part in the formation of a wealthy senhor de engenho or cattle baron, such family ties as those mentioned above were basic to the economic functioning of the land-owning elite. The arranging of credit or the refunding of debts owed to various lending institutions could often turn on the intervention of a near or distant relative who was a member of such an institution.8 Suitably arranged marriages ameliorated potentially divisive competition for land and water rights among the landowning elite.

An extended family network usually resulted in close cooperation between members of the landowning elite. Endogamous marriage and an extended family network, though, did not always guarantee close relations. Family disputes could destroy, temporarily or permanently, the cohesiveness and economic cooperation within an extended family. The marriage between Christovão da Rocha Pita’s daughter and the Morgado of the Torre estate, Garcia d’Avila Pereira de Aragão was a miserable disaster. Contradictory stories—of his impotence, of his favoritism to alleged bastard children, of his brutality to his first wife— nearly caused a break between the two families. Christovão owed Garcia various rentals for land and had not offered a dowry with his daughter. In the end Garcia allowed his wife to return to her father’s home, though he continued to visit her periodically.9 This is, of course, an extreme case.

To stabilize or increase their status and wealth the landowning elite also sought to exercise formal and informal power within the governmental structures of the colony. Formal or direct power was exercised by those who actually entered into royal service. Landowners, especially senhores de engenho, long predominated in the Senado da Camâra (municipal council), supplied most of the top officers of the militia units, and purchased high positions in the royal government.

Christovão da Rocha Pita, in addition to serving as a militia captain major, was city councillor in 1757, 1775, 1776, 1785, and 1786. In 1775, 1776, and 1778, he was also a member of the important Board of (Sugar and Tobacco) Inspection, which set prices for those commodities.10 Salvador Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque held the hereditary possession of the post of Alcaide Mór of the town of Maragogipe in the Recôncavo. Another member of the family, José, who held the exclusive privilege of warehousing all tobacco, and owned land near Santo Amaro, purchased the post of Secretaria do Estado. He also served as a militia captain major, and was town councillor four times between 1750 and 1762. After his death in 1796, his heirs continued to hold most of these same positions.11

The landowning elite, however, did not need to hold office to be able to exert meaningful influence in governmental structures. Informal or indirect power was exerted through the favorable cooperation of royal officials. Local influence-peddling was the subject of constant complaint by administrators throughout the eighteenth century.12 The exchange of favors, shared economic interests, and in a few cases, marital ties, provided opportunities for the elite to influence administrative decisions. Indirect power was important in the granting of honors, appointments to posts, and purchase of offices or of monopoly trade contracts. Disputes over land boundaries also could be favorably resolved as the result of informal connections with members of the judicial system. Duarte Sodré Pereira, fidalgo escudeiro, senhor de engenho and cattle raiser in the Recóncavo parish of Sâo Pedro do Rio Fundo, was accused of running an illegal slaughter house in his district, and not paying the proper taxes. Through his connections with the Camâra of Santo Amaro and the judges of Salvador, he avoided punishment and fines.13 Informal ties such as these frequently enabled the landowning elite to use the power and perquisites of colonial governmental structures to their own benefit.

Merchant Sector

Bahia’s principal merchants can be identified in the lists of businessmen who registered with the Lisbon Junta do Comércio (Board of Trade) which was established between 1755 and 1760. To register, an individual had to show knowledge of double-entry bookkeeping methods, acquaintance with Portuguese and foreign mercantile customs, and approximately a 50:000$000 investment in commercial activity.14 Registration enabled the individual to use the title of homen de negócio (businessman), and assured others of his experience and integrity. In any one year between 1780-1820, approximately 100 individuals were registered.15

The primary sources of wealth for the wealthiest merchants were the lending of capital and the trading of sugar, tobacco, and slaves.16 Perhaps the two most wealthy Bahian merchants were Teodósio Gongalves da Silva and Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira, the second of that name. Gonçalves da Silva accumulated his wealth after arriving in Bahia in 1713, through trade with Portugal, Africa, Asia, and the Brazilian coast. He owned six ships, an engenho in Jaguaripe, some urban property, and a distillery in Barra. He also converted the old Jesuit seminary at Agua de Meninos into a rope factory using “vagrants” as paid labor.17 Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira, son of a merchant from Viana do Castelo, was the key shipper of tobacco and aguardente from Cachoeira to the city of Bahia. In 1807, he sued in an English court to recoup property and losses estimated at 124:000$000 as a result of the seizure of one of his slave trade ships off the coast of Africa. At the time of his death in 1835, he owned several ships travelling all trade routes, a number of large and small buildings in the city, and six sizable engenhos. He also owned eleven cattle ranches and a number of local and national funding bonds.18

Like the landowning elite, the merchant elite sought to assure its position by exerting direct and indirect power within the governmental structures of the colony. The eligibility of merchants for municipal and bureaucratic posts was guaranteed by royal decree of 1740.19 This measure can be seen more as recognition of existing status than as the initiation of social change.

The interpenetration of mercantile and governmental roles may be illustrated by the following examples. Luiz Coelho Ferreira, who specialized in trade with Portugal, served as the procurador of the Camara in 1748 and again in 1767. He purchased the hereditary post of Guarda Mór of the Alfandêga in 1761 for 6:400$000. He also served as a captain in the Utéis regiment.20 Frutuoso Vicente Vianna, who made considerable sums in the slave trade, also specialized in tax farming with his two partners, the wealthy Antonio Cardozo dos Santos and Clemente José da Costa. (Da Costa’s brother, Inocêncio, also was procurador of the Tobacco Administration.) Cardozo was provedor of the Misericórdia in 1771, when Vianna was the escrivão.21 Domingos da Costa Braga, another merchant dealing in the African trade, was a lieutenant in the Familiares militia unit. He served as procurador in the Senado da Camâra in 1787 and 3792.22

Dom João V once remarked, “there are few people (I am not referring to the vulgar populace) who fail to recognize and acknowledge that commerce is the very soul of the state, and the treasury on which ruling princes rely in the event of a national crisis.”23 His successors shared similar sentiments, and the Portuguese government made serious efforts to promote greater commercial crop production and increase Brazil-metropolitan trade. The government in its own interest pursued an economic policy which enhanced the position of merchants.

Merchants were equally determined to use the government for their own purposes. Elite merchants who held office in the Camara could implement regulations to limit or eliminate unwanted competition from itinerant vendors and, through other local regulations, achieve a near monopoly of the distribution of goods.24 Those who held posts in the regular bureaucracy could use the power of their offices to the same ends. Elite merchants also sought administrative support for the strict observance of regulations that prohibited occasional traders (commisários volantes).25 This eliminated competition to established merchants and regularized trade, facilitating the collection of customs duties for the Crown. In short, the Crown and its colonial government would benefit from achieving the objectives of merchants.

The indirect power exerted by elite merchants is somewhat difficult to measure, but it is certainly worthy of consideration. Merchants could offer bureaucrats and judges investment opportunities, or make generous loans with repayment perhaps not expected. Through such contacts, and in some cases through marriage ties, merchants could speed the collection of debts, influence the award of monopoly contracts, occasionally avoid full payment of taxes, have their contraband activities ignored, favorably settle land disputes, be assured protection of their business operations, and increase their social prestige.

The frequency of marital alliances between the merchant and bureaucratic sectors of the elite cannot yet be stated precisely. There are indications that some elite merchant families sought such alliances. The daughter of merchant Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira (the elder) married Francisco Vicente Vianna, who was the son of merchant and tax farmer Frutuoso Vicente Vianna. In 1773, Francisco had graduated from Coimbra and was appointed to be Juiz de Orfãos in 1775 before becoming Ouvidor of the Bahian Comarca in 1779. His marriage made him the brother-in-law of Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira (the younger), who became one of the wealthiest men in Brazil by the time of his death in 1835.26 A few elite merchant families also sought marital ties with the landowning elite. At mid-century, the prominent senhor de engenho Christovão da Rocha Pita married the daughter of the “mercador rico” João da Costa Lima.27 The extent of this type of intermarriage is only partially known.28 Nonetheless, the marriage of a few elite merchants or their children with senhor de engenho families provided the basis for mutual social as well as economic interests. The landowners probably needed the merchants’ business skills and connections as well as their accumulated capital.

Some other wealthy merchants, while not intermarrying, did purchase sugar plantations with milling facilities; after the purchase they usually remained active in trade, often renting out their lands.29 José da Silva Lisboa remarked that “such merchants buy engenhos for cash and with these engenhos and their agricultural production succeed in uniting a thousand interests”.30 The children of landowning merchants, however, seem to be frequently identified exclusively as landowners or senhores de engenho31 While merchants could and did buy urban property to secure their wealth, the ownership of a plantation with a mill may have offered additional status and prestige benefits.32

Whether acquired by marriage or purchase, landownership provided a relatively secure means of maintaining the wealth accumulated in trade. It was unusual for a business enterprise to continue beyond one generation, as trading corporations were nonexistent and partnerships, limited to a maximum of three persons, normally ended with the death of a partner.33 By tradition, merchants did not usually start their business careers in their father’s employ. They began their careers as a caixeiro (clerk) with an uncle or, if they were Portuguese-born, with a businessman from the same metropolitan province as themselves.34 The caixeiro stage was often an apprenticeship during which business techniques were learned and some capital was accumulated. The caixeiro apprenticeship perhaps also offered a means of economic and social mobility for some Portuguese and a few Brazilian-born residents of Bahia. Those who were successful could utilize marriage ties, informal contacts, and office-holding to assure themselves of a significant place in the colonial Bahian elite power structure.

Institutional Elites

In the late eighteenth century western European nation states endeavored to consolidate and reorganize their governmental institutions to provide more effective centralized political control. Measures were also taken to stimulate national wealth and economic self-sufficiency. Portugal, under the direction of the Marquês de Pombal and his successors, sought to implement economic and administrative reforms at home and in the colonies. The objectives of Lisbon officials were to make administrative controls more efficient, to protect and promote the development of increased raw material production, especially that of sugar, tobacco, and gold, and to increase colonial trade with Portugal.35

In Bahia, the civilian bureaucracy and the military underwent reforms, directed from Lisbon, aimed at rationalizing tasks and maximizing efficiency. Higher standards were instituted for training and performance, while competence and experience became the basis for appointment to most bureaucratic posts and for military promotions. Seniority and family background became less important determinants of advancement within these institutions.

Such professionalization promoted a sense of separate corporate identity among bureaucrats and military men, leading to more clearly defined institutional prestige and pride within these two sectors of the elite in the late colonial period.

Bureaucratic Sector

In 1759, Bahian-born José Antônio Caldas recorded thirteen separate administrative divisions under the ultimate nominal supervision of the governor-general.36 A later observer estimated that 500 people in the captaincy were non-military Crown employees, approximately 203 of whom served in the fiscal administration and courts of the city.37

Expansion of the bureaucracy in the late eighteenth century generally resulted in more job opportunities for the locally born, with one exception. A sample of 40 of the 88 High Court judges who served between 1749 and 1799 indicates that Brazilian-born Bahians were excluded from High Court service in Bahia.38 Such exclusion was designed apparently to eliminate venality and injustices resulting from local interests, because qualified Bahians were not excluded from serving as judges of the High Courts of Rio, Pôrto or Lisbon.39 However, it proved difficult to prevent even judges born elsewhere from developing local social and financial interests which could effect their decisions.40 Crown policy notwithstanding, officials winked at the creation of strong local ties when they had “knowledge of the [high] quality of the people and of the particularly good circumstances of the case”.41 The locally-born were not systematically excluded from other agencies of the royal bureaucracy. When they met training requirements, they were appointed to all levels of the bureaucracy.

In addition to appointed positions, a number of administrative posts were sold or granted to those offering the largest donations, with little attention given to merit.42 Of a total of 203 middle and lower-echelon bureaucratic posts listed by Caldas, 128 or 63 percent were for sale.43 The purchasers of these and higher posts were almost always Bahian-born.44 Normally, these posts were held for the lifetime of the purchaser; frequently they were considered hereditary property, and were held for two or three lifetimes by the same family.45 If a purchaser did not possess the requisite skills or did not live in Bahia, he could hire a competent substitute (serventuário) or simply rely upon subordinates to perform the required tasks. Some purchased posts empowered the officeholder to appoint his subordinates or to name temporary personnel, subject to the final approval of the Crown. Thus, a form of patronage was largely controlled by the Brazilian-born.

The power exercised by Portuguese and Brazilian-born Bahian office holders was limited. Brazil was after all a colony, which meant that fundamental decisions concerning economic, political, or military affairs were made in Lisbon. However, colonial administration was decentralized, and the jurisdictions of administrative agencies overlapped even after the reforms. Jurisdictional disputes and personal animosity between administrators made difficult the strict execution of royal decrees. Governors-general officially were allowed little flexibility and had relatively little patronage at their immediate disposal. Generally equipped with little knowledge of the colony, the governors-general had to rely upon alleged precedent as interpreted by their colonial subordinates, who were either native-born Bahians or had spent most of their lives in Bahia establishing and profiting from local connections and interests.46 Thus, the cooperation and assistance of bureaucrats and other elite colonists was necessary if royal instructions were to be implemented, and therein lay the power of the local elite. The cooperation and assistance of bureaucrats and other colonial elites came with a price—the government’s assistance in furthering the interests and meeting the needs of Bahia’s elites.

Military Sector

Bahian military personnel pursued their careers in either of two distinct forms of military organization, the regular army or the militia. The regular standing army followed contemporary organizational patterns and was subordinate to civilian Crown officials. The militia consisted of various urban and rural voluntary reserve units. There was a constant power struggle over the militia between the local elites who served as its highest officers, seeking total control, and the Crown which tried to limit local control.

Administrative reform of the regular military was ordered in a new code issued in 1767. Written in 1763 by the Conde de Lippe, a Prussian military advisor to the Marques de Pombal, the new code regularized disciplinary and court procedures, and detailed standard training methods. Reforms of the 1760s and 1770s standardized procedures for the recruitment and promotion of officers, while merit and professional training became of almost equal importance to seniority in determining advancement. For the first time, family background of officers was superseded as an important determinant of promotion. The implementation of the reforms resulted in a military force which was better trained and better disciplined—a more highly professional military establishment.47

By the late eighteenth century, some 60 percent of the top commissioned officers were from what might be termed military families.48 These professional military families were of both Portuguese and Brazilian origins. Marriages between military families occurred most frequently among the highest-ranked personnel, though the trend held true for all of the officer corps, and accelerated as the army became more professional. It is not known whether endogamy became an ideal, or was the result of particular social and economic circumstances of military personnel. The relevant criterion in such marriages was membership in the military, not place of birth. Years of service and rank at the time of marriage were the factors most apparently influencing the choice of marriage partners.

Access to most military ranks was accorded the Brazilian-born with only two exceptions. The ranks of colonel and lieutenant colonel were held exclusively by Portuguese-born officers throughout the last half of the eighteenth century. No policy statements on this matter are known; the Portuguese monopoly of these ranks might be due more to the longevity of the individuals than to any official policy.49 Aside from these two apparent exceptions, the regular army officer corps was nearly dominated by the Brazilian-born—60 percent by the 1780s.50

In spite of the access to a military career, we find few Brazilian-born officers with elite-sector backgrounds. While a military career was not very popular with any segment of the population in colonial Brazil, the elite sectors seem altogether to have rejected the regular military as unworthy of their sons and nephews. The interim government of 1761 wrote the Crown that “the name ‘soldier’ is much abominated here and for this reason nobody wants to become one of his own will. No one does his duty, but rather exerts his best energies and efforts to avoid being a soldier.”51 A few years later the Conde de Azambuja was disgusted because any “pessoas mais distinctas” that might join the army wanted to be given high rank immediately. The result, to his mind, was disaster, as he found the regiments “full of blacks, mulattoes, and thieves.”52 These observations, though racist and exaggerated, should be accepted as partially accurate, as no sons of landowners or merchants have yet been discovered in service, though a few sons of bureaucrats appear.53

There are several reasons why landowning and mercantile families were not found in the regular military. First, the increased training and professionalism required for advancement would discourage many from military careers. Second, the socially-demeaning tasks of certain ranks must have been abhorrent to those who were (at home) used to giving orders, not receiving them. Third, many members of the other elite sectors were exempt from regular military service. Fourth, regular military service had a very low reputation; it offered no monetary rewards and little prestige. Fifth, service in the militia forces offered an alternative to regular military service.

The regular military played an important, active role in maintaining Portuguese control of the colony against foreign threats during this period.54 Obviously, it could also be of great service to royal bureaucrats, merchants, and slave-holding landowners, by protecting them from the lower elements of Bahian society. Officers of the regular military sympathized with the interests of the other elite sectors and whenever possible emulated their values. The institutional goals of military officers—to increase their manpower and budget allotment and to improve training and armaments—required the cooperation of the other elite sectors. Military officers used their formal power as military advisors and their contacts with judges, bureaucrats and governors-general to gain acceptance of military goals. The support of these institutional goals by non-military elites indicates that they considered the military institution and its officers as necessary to their own well-being.

While elites rejected careers in the regular military, they continued to seek commissions in rural and urban militia units.55 No formal training was required for the highest rank of these units, and rigorous duty could easily be avoided. The activation of reserve forces during periods of crisis in the late eighteenth century earned prominence and respect for militia unit officers. Crisis also had the effect of legitimizing the ambition for high-ranking commissions.56 In times of peace, the militia units were responsible for maintaining order in the countryside and aiding the king’s judicial and customs officials. In certain instances, they also acted unofficially to terminate minor disputes between landowners and their tenants, sharecroppers, or slaves. This legal use of the decentralized means of official force was beneficial to Bahian elites, but still was a potential threat to royal authority.

The holders of the urban and rural militias’ top ranks were almost exclusively Brazilian-born landowners, again indicating the close ties of the landowning elite to the urban milieu.57 Three exceptions to this landowning elite dominance were the officers of the Henriques (composed of free blacks), the pardo regiment (composed of free persons of mixed racial ancestry), and the Utéis regiment. This latter was formed in 1774, of merchants most of whom were Portuguese-born.58

The background of the militia officers indicates that they were not appointed to the top ranks until they had already accumulated a good deal of wealth and social prestige. The captains major and colonels were expected to aid substantially in supplying the equipment for their units, which demanded wealth or the ability to borrow on property. For example, the 1762 patent of Francisco Ignácio de Oliveira specifically mentioned that he was “the son of distinguished parents, of excellent reputation, and had sufficient wealth.”59 These positions, then, were not a means of mobility but rather were a further recognition of achieved or ascribed economic and social status.60

As the militia was largely Brazilian-born and under the control of the landowning elite, it might be assumed that it was an unfettered tool of that elite. These units and their officers, however, were fully integrated into the colonial administrative mechanisms. Several of the rural militia units, notably the cavalry regiments and some other districts units, were under the direct command of one of the colonels of a regular army regiment. In all cases, the governor-general had ultimate authority over the local units. He relied upon their sergeants and ensigns to provide current information and to assure impartial administration of duties. In most cases, these were regular army personnel temporarily assigned a tour of duty in militia units,61 and it was they who normally organized, drilled, and called forth the militia unit to carry out necessary duties. Thus, with its prestige, honors, and supervised responsibilities the militia system effectively integrated the rural and urban elite sectors of Bahian society, whether Portuguese or Brazilian-born, into a system ultimately maintaining metropolitan control.

Elite Coalescence and Maintenance

The four sectors of the Bahian elite coalesced and formed one cohesive socio-economic entity during the last half of the eighteenth century. Such cohesiveness facilitated the exercise of significant power and leadership in the economic, political, and social life of the colony.

Yet the existence of a cohesive Bahian elite is denied by John Russell-Wood in his work Fidalgos and Philanthropists.62 On the basis of his analysis of the background of Provedores, Treasurers, and other members of the Misericórdia brotherhood from 1550 to 1755, Russell-Wood argues that the merchant sector of Bahian society supplanted the landowning sector and became dominant in the social and political life of the city in the latter part of the eighteenth century.63 He states that “prominent Bahian [landowning] families did not sever themselves from all social intercourse, but tended to simply ‘opt out’ of public duties. These were to be assumed by businessmen . . .,”64 Thus he concludes that the landowning elite withdrew from urban political life. He further intimates, though he does not explicitly assert, that conflict between landowners and merchants made cohesion among the colonial elites impossible.

Russell-Wood’s conclusion does not hold, certainly for the period after 1750. As indicated earlier in this study, the landowning elite remained very active in urban political affairs in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They remained well represented in the Senado da Camâra. Antônio Gomes Ferrão Castelobranco, a descendant of the seventeenth-century judge Pedro Unhão Castelobranco, owned an entailed estate on the São Francisco River. He served on the Senado in 1755 and 1762, and he was also a sergeant major of a militia unit. His son, Pedro Gomes Ferrão Castelobranco, was a militia colonel and served on the Senado in 1785, 1793, and 1801. His brother José Diogo Gomes Ferrão Castelobranco served in 1789. Still another member of the family, Alexandre, served in 1805 and 1815.65 Members of the Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque family sat on the Senado nine times between 1750 and 1808. Rocha Pitas were represented thirteen times during the same period.66Senhores de engenho are well represented in the list of vereadores during this period, which further indicates that they remained very active in the Senado.

The landowning elite continued to purchase and hold important bureaucratic posts. The Pires de Carvalho family continued to hold the proprietary post of Secretary of State, and in 1782 one of them became the substitute Intendente da Marinha.67 Francisco Borges de Barros, a descendant of the senhor de engenho of Camorogi in the early eighteenth century and owner of lands near Cachoeira, served as sergeant major, later as captain of the militia, and as a vereador in 1799.68 He sent his son Domingos Borges de Barros to Coimbra, where he graduated in July 1804. He was later to be a Deputy to the Portuguese Côrtes, elected to the Senate of the Brazilian Empire, and received the title “Visconde de Pedra Branca” from Pedro I.69 Other landowners also sent their sons to Coimbra University to receive degrees which made them eligible for professionalized bureaucratic posts.70

The landowning elite continued to receive high-ranking commissions in the urban militia units. In 1766 and 1791, three of the five white urban militia regiments were headed by members of the landowning elite.71

The presence of merchants in social or political institutions of the city reflected a process of absorption of merchants into the elite, not the displacement of the landowners. The political life of the city with its potential power, status, and economic rewards was the most important factor creating ties between the landowning and the urban sectors of the elite. The senhores de engenho were as much part of the urban elite as were the wealthiest merchants. Travelers as well as colonial officials recognized this facet of Bahian social and political life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.72

Clearly, the economic well-being and power of the landowning elite were linked directly to the fluctuations of the international price of sugar, weather conditions, and other uncontrollable circumstances. The period most closely studied by Russell-Wood was one of severe economic depression, as he carefully noted. He assumed, therefore, that the economic position and political power of the landowning elite were proportionately reduced—a reasonable assumption even though it should perhaps be explored more thoroughly. Yet he carried his generalizations into the late eighteenth century, when economic conditions were quite different. Sugar prices rose, nearly doubling between 1776 and 1781.73 Other sectors of the economy also experienced a period of expansion.74

It should be noted at the same time that merchants also were not isolated from economic fluctuations which could undermine their position of prestige and power. Merchants who loaned money to the landowning elite ordinarily could not foreclose for the non-payment of debts, and the collection of debts in general was not an easy matter.75 To conclude that the merchant sector was a more stable, more economically viable social group than the landowning elite is to misperceive social and economic phenomena.

While Russell-Wood succeeded in seriously questioning the simplistic notion of the total preëminence of the landowning elite, he unfortunately replaced it with the equally simplistic notion of merchant elite preëminence, further strengthening the traditional concept that the landowning elite was a dependent social group.

Detailed information on the frequency or extent of the indebtedness of the landowning elite remains unknown. Recent research has shown that the senhor de engenho could arrange credit from a variety of sources. Almost all of the several socio-charitable brotherhoods, such as the Misericórdia and the Third Order of St. Francis, loaned to landowners at the prevailing rates of 6¼ percent before 1757 and 5 percent after that date. The monasteries and convents also participated actively in the capitalization of the sugar plantations.76 Some senhores de engenho themselves loaned capital to others or to lavradores (cane growers). Senhores de engenho did need capital investment from others but it is doubtful that they focused resentment of that economic relationship on a particular social group or a specific institution.

Furthermore, the senhor de engenho who possessed a large amount of collateral with a productive capability cannot be considered dependent upon those loaning capital to him.77 The relationship to the exchange of commodities is perhaps frequendy disadvantageous to the producer of staple export crops, and more advantageous to the merchant or banker. There was, therefore, some economic basis for conflict between merchant and landowning sectors of the elite. This conflict was usually mitigated by the mutual social and economic interests and family ties of these two sectors of the elite. The mechanisms which reduced strife between all sectors of the Bahian elite at the same time acted to create an integrated, cohesive elite.

The specter of social upheaval haunted the Bahian elite in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. News of the radical changes taking place in Revolutionary France quickly reached Bahia, giving men of power and prestige cause for reflection. The Haitian uprising of slaves and freedmen in 1791 revealed the possible impact of liberal ideals, and presaged the social turmoil that might occur in an area like Bahia, where two-thirds of the population consisted of suppressed slaves and mulattoes.78

If some members of the elite were still skeptical about the implications of these external events, few retained their skepticism after 1798. In that year, mulatto leaders of what Affonso Ruy called the “first Brazilian social revolution” proclaimed an end to Bahian elite dominance and to Portuguese dominion. Of this movement Kenneth Maxwell has written: “they welcomed social turmoil, proposed the overthrow of existing structures, and sought an egalitarian and democratic society where differences of race would be no impediment to employment and social mobility.”79 The slave rebellion of 1807, led by African-born Muslim slaves, put to rest any lingering doubts.

The threat of social upheaval in a society composed of a minority of whites dominating a massive subordinate nonwhite population minimized the conflicts and strengthened the ties between Bahian elite sectors. The awareness of common socio-economic interests was heightened by these grave internal threats to the elite’s wealth and power.

These internal threats also had a significant effect on the relationship between the colonial elite and the metropole. Pressured from below by the masses, the elite came to depend even more on metropolitan assistance to perpetuate the circumstances necessary for continued economic and social dominance of the colony. Due to these external and internal pressures the elite was willing to compromise on resolving grievances that developed as Portugal’s economic weaknesses increased in the late eighteenth century.80

Brazil’s economic vitality and its role as the mainstay of the Portuguese Empire did not escape the attention of some Lisbon officials. In 1798, the Secretary of State for Overseas Dominions wrote that “the dominions in Europe no longer form the capital and center of the Portuguese Empire.”81

When this minister became President of the Royal Treasury in 1800, he implemented what Maxwell has called the “Brazil Plan.’ Basically, the plan envisioned a federative union between Portugal and Brazil which would abolish archaic taxes and administrative bottlenecks. The federative concept “moved beyond nationalism to a broader imperial solution, and sought to defuse metropolitan-colonial tensions.”82 The administrative reforms of this period satisfied the needs of the colonial elite, but severely threatened the position of the metropolitan elites. Then antipathy to colonial reforms was deflected only by the French invasion of Portugal and the passage of the Portuguese court to Brazil.

The year 1808 is considered a watershed in Brazilian history. By necessity, Brazil’s ports were opened to the trade of all friendly nations. The former vice-regal city of Rio de Janeiro was transformed into the center of the Portuguese Empire. The metropolitan administrative bureaucracies were recreated in the colony. In 1815, Brazil, still the home of the king, was made a kingdom in the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. The various regions of Brazil were brought under the centralizing, protective direction of the court in Rio.

Focusing on changes which occurred in Rio after 1808, historians have charged that Brazilian-born colonists were excluded from offices.83 Large numbers of job- and favor-seeking Portuguese emigrés supposedly displaced the Brazilian-born. Ministers of the Rio court were not Brazilian-born, historians write, but no careful study has been made of the fiscal-administrative or military office holders in Rio, or in other parts of Brazil.84 It is not known how many Brazilian-born were excluded from offices after 1808. A body count may answer that narrowly-focused question for Rio or for other cities, like Bahia, where it appears that the rapid expansion of the bureaucratic structures provided a means of mobility for many Brazilian-born. Neither a negative nor a positive answer to such a question, however, really furthers the understanding of the independence movement.

The discernible trends in Brazilian historical development of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries indicate that changes in the colonial regime were necessary if ties to Portugal were to be maintained. The 1790 efforts to modify the colonial regime and the changes which resulted from the court’s transplantation to Brazil were in keeping with those trends. Brazil’s elevation to a kingdom and her greater economic and political autonomy were reflections of economic and political realities. Why then independence?

Efforts to nationalize the Portuguese economy and expel foreign interests, especially the English, had been fitfully attempted since Pombal tried to renovate Portugal. In a search for alternative models of national development, some Portuguese concluded that Portugal must undergo a political and social revolution.85 Others concluded that the colonies, especially the wealthiest, Brazil, must also be nationalized.

The means of achieving that goal was to be the reimposition of Portuguese-Brazilian economic and political relationships typical of the period before 1808. Another facet of that new alternative model of national development was the desire to abolish slavery in Brazil and to foment a diversified economy based on free wage labor. The contradictions inherent in these objectives were perhaps not always clear to revolutionary zealots of Portugal in the 1820s. The weaknesses of the Portuguese economy and her disadvantageous economic relationship to other Western European countries would be compensated by the real and potential wealth of Brazil. Brazil would play the essential role in supplying the necessary raw materials and the receptive market Portugal so desperately needed.

The Bahian elite’s reaction to the contradictory objectives of the Portuguese elites was mixed. They were receptive to the idea of a constitutional monarchy, yet wanted no part of a social revolution which would spell their demise. The threatened reassertion of anomalous mercantilist regulations disillusioned many. They saw those regulations as a threat to the autonomous prosperity they had enjoyed since 1808. During the crisis period of 1821-1823, the mechanisms which had minimized inter-elite conflict temporarily broke down. The elites became divided.

The merchant community was split, many first choosing continued allegiance to Portugal. The landowning elite generally rallied to tire cause of Brazilian independence. The military was divided, with many fleeing to the independence strongholds in the countryside when more than two thousand new Portuguese troops arrived.86

Antipathy between Portuguese and Brazilian-born was present. Such antipathy, though, was largely the product of the political turmoil which perforce pitted one against the other. The general outlines of this conflict are known, but even here the simplistic dichotomy of birth-place fails to explain the complex issues involved in the independence movement. The detailed composition of those groups which supported or opposed independence needs to be more thoroughly examined. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that tire mechanisms which had fostered the development of a cohesive elite in the late eighteenth century were quickly reasserted after the independence struggle. For example, a large number of Portuguese merchants stayed in Bahia after the achievement of independence. Merchants who at one stage supported the Portuguese forces of the city, perhaps partially as the result of coercion, performed an about face and supported independence when social tensions were unleashed and class conflict emerged during the struggle.87

The Bahian elite succeeded in stopping the threat of social and, implicitly, racial turmoil posed by the Portuguese constitutionalist revolution. By attaining independence they assured their social, economic, and political preëminence in Bahian society at the expense of the needs of the mass of the population.88

The Bahian case may be unique.89 But the study of a regional elite is a significant means of analyzing the historical development of a colonial society. The pitfalls of conducting mere body counts of locally-born or European-born residents within colonial Latin American institutions should be avoided by all who seek to understand and explain complex economic, political and social phenomena.


The standard view was that creoles were excluded from high positions. For examples see R. A. Humphreys and John Lynch (eds.), The Origins of the Latin American Revolutions 1808-1826 (New York, 1966), p. 23 and Charles Gibson, Spain in America (New York, 1966), p. 108. Recent research convincingly has questioned the traditional view. See David Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763-1810 (Cambridge, 1971); Leon G. Campbell, “A Colonial Establishment: Creole Domination of the Audiencia of Lima During the Late Eighteenth Century,” HAHR, 52:1 (February 1972), 1-25; Mark A. Burkholder, “From Creole to Peninsular: The Transformation of the Audiencia of Lima,” HAHR, 52:3 (August 1972), 395-415.


J. Capistrano de Abreu, Capítulos de história colonial, 1500-1800, (4th ed., Rio, 1954), pp. 337-338; Alan K. Manchester, “The Rise of the Brazilian Aristocracy,” HAHR, 11:2 (May 1931), 146, 163, 165-167; C. H. Haring, Empire in Brazil: A New World Experiment with Monarchy (Cambridge, Mass., 1958) p. 4; Nelson Werneck Sodré, Formação histórica do Brasil (São Paulo, 1962), p. 164; E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (New York, 1970), pp. 84-87. For a restatement of some of Manchester’s ideas on colonial social groups see Richard Graham, Independence in Latin America (New York, 1972), pp. 47-48. The only work known to the author which stresses local-born participation is Dauril Alden, Royal Government in Colonial Brazil: With Special Reference to the Administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, Viceroy, 1769-1779 (Berkeley, 1968), especially pp. 295-296.


Wanderly Pinho, História de um engenho do Recôncavo: Matoim-Novo-Caboto-Freguezia, 1552-1044 (Rio, 1946), pp. 138-139. In 1757 Vigário José Nogueira da Silva observed that “ menos de quarentas /escravos/não pode Engenho algum fabricar assucar moendo redondamente.” (Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, Lisbon [AHU], Bahia doc. 2691.)


José Antonio Caldas, Notícia geral de toda esta Capitânía da Bahia desde os seu descobrimento até o presente anno da 1759 (Edição Facsimilar, Salvador da Bahia, 1951), pp. 429-438, 453, 457, 468. The engenho income figures are calculated at 1$120 per arroba of white sugar and $510 per arroba of mascavado, the 1755 values given in “Discurso preliminar, histôrico, introductivo com natureza de descripçâo económico da comarca e cidade da Bahia (1790?),” Annaes da Biblioteca Nacional (ABNRJ), 27 (1905), 293, 295, 306. For information on the value and production of engenhos of Passé and Cotegipe in 1760, AHU, Bahia doc. 4956. In 1781, when sugar prices were more than twice those of 1754, a medium-sized engenho cost approximately 24:000$000 and some of the larger ones grossed nearly 12:000$000 per year. (José da Silva Lisboa to Dr. Domingos Vandelli, 10/18/1781, AHU, Bahia doc. 10.906; also in ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 500-501.)


Stuart B. Schwartz, “Magistracy and Society in Colonial Brazil,” HAHR, 50:4 (November 1970), 726, 726 n.37; A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Fidalgos and Philanthropists: The Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Bahia (Berkeley, 1968), pp. 177, 183; Fernando de Azevedo, Obras completas, Vol. XI, Canaviais e engenhos na vida politica do Brasil (Rio, 196?); p. 78; Caio Prado Júnior, The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil, trans. Suzette Macedo (Berkeley, 1967), p. 334.


Pinho, pp. 97-102; Pedro Calmon, História da Casa da Torre: urna dinastia de pioneiros (Rio, 1939), pp. 126-130.


Antônio de Araujo de Bulcão Sobrinlio, Familias bahianas, (3 vols., Salvador da Bahia, 1946), III, 90, II, 89, passim.


Susan Soeiro, “Flagellants and Financiers: The Nunnery in Bahia, 1677-1800,” paper presented at the American Historical Association Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, December, 1972, pp. 12-13 notes 37, 38, 13, and 40; Russell-Wood, pp. 93, 106-107, 122-123.


Pinho, pp. 103-104.


Ibid., pp. 104, 113-114; AHU, Bahia doc. 19.623.


He purchased the Secretario post for 3a:000$000, AHU, Bahia doc. 5909 (3/15/1762). His son José inherited it in 1780. Doc. 13.560 (7/17/1780); Affonso Ruy, Historia da Camâra da Cidade do Salvador (Salvador da Bahia, 1953), pp. 361-363; AHU, Bahia doc. 12.701, 12.702; Bulcâo Sobrinho, II, 12-13.


See the case of the senhor de engenho of Petinga, Antônio Ribeiro de Migueis, AHU, Bahia docs. 6921-6923 (6/4/1765). A favorable decision accorded landowner and tobacco warehouseman José Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque by Rodrigo José Almeida, the Intendente da Marinha, against the pretensions of a local merchant perhaps was the result of family ties as well as the physical convenience of Jose’s warehouse. José was Rodrigo’s nephew. See Marieta Alves, “O comércio marítimo e alguns armadores do sáculo XVIII, na Bahia,” Revista de História (São Paulo) (RHSP), 16:63 (July-Sept, 1965), 136; AHU, Bahia doc. 11-133; 9/9/1782; Bulcão Sobrinho, II, 12. For official complaints see “Instrução para o Marquês de Valença . . .” from Secretary of State for Overseas Dominions, Martinho de Melo e Castro, 9/10/1779, AHU, Bahia doc. 10.319 (also published in ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 444. By Carta Regia of 9/8/1791 royal officials were not to receive gifts of any kind. (Ignácio Accioli de Cerqueira e Silva, Memórias históricas e políticas da Provincia da Bahia, annotador Braz do Amarai (Accioli-Amaral) [6 vols., Salvador da Bahia, 1919-1940], III, 220. For mention of a bribe of 5:600$000 for a favorable boundary settlement, see p. 222.


AHU, Bahia doc. 8763 (4/1/1775); “Teor dos autos,” 4/21/1775, doc. 9149.


I thank Ms. Catherine Lugar of the State University of New York at Stony Brook for permission to use information in this section from her doctoral research as reported in “The Mercantile Community of Salvador, Bahia 1780-1830,” a report delivered to the Brazilianist Committee at the American Historical Association Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, December, 1972, p. 3; for a published list see the Lisbon Almanac of 1807 in RIHGB, 290 (Jan.-March, 1971), appendix.


Caldas, pp. 525-533 lists less than 100 merchants who would qualify; Vilhena observed that there were 174 merchants, but he included those not registered, Luís dos Santos Vilhena, A Bahia no século VIII(recopilação de notícias soteropolítanas e brasilicas) notas por Braz do Amaral, apresentação de Edison Carneiro (3 vols., Bahia, 1969) I, 56. The 1807 Lisbon Almanac listed 116 registered merchants in Bahia.


Vilhena, pp. 56-61; Prado Júnior, Colonial Background, pp. 176, 343; Silva Lisboa to Vandelli, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 504-505; Alden, 14, 366, 366 n.54; Soeiro, p. 7. The trade with Africa was especially advantageous. See “Instrução para o Marquês de Valença . . .” from Mello e Castro, 9/10/1779, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 442-444.


Alves, “Comércio . . .,” RHSP, 16:63 (July-Sept. 1965), 136, 137; Alves, “Comércio . . . RHSP, 18:70 (April-June, 1967), 537-538; AHU, Bahia doc. 91.57, 9194; Affonso Ruy, História política e administrativa da Cidade do Salvador (Salvador da Bahia, 1949) 314-315.


Alves, “Comércio . . .,” RHSP, 19:74 (April-June, 1968), 428; Bulco Sobrinho, III, 3, 30-39.


Russell-Wood, p. 64. “. . . already by the 1680’s the social status of the merchant had reached sufficient prominence to earn his daughters a place in the [prestigious Destêrro] Nunnery.” Merchants “. . . occupied positions on the city council, [and] received honorific titles . . Soeiro, p. 6; also see Stuart Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil. The High Court of Bahia and its Judges, 1609-1751 (Berkeley, 1973).


Ruy, Camâra, pp. 361, 363; Alves, “Comércio . . .”, RHSP, 16:63 (July-Sept., 1965), 141-142; Caldas, p. 526; AHU, Bahia doc. 8875 (10/16/1775). José de Sousa Reis bought the proprietary office of Guarda Mór of tobacco for 5:200$000 in 1761 which facilitated his trading activities on the African coast, Alves, “Comércio ... , RHSP, 19:73 (Jan.-March, 1968), 158.


AHU, Bahia doc. 7903 (7/9/1768); 7904 (7/11/1768); 8006-8007 (5/13/1769); 10.962 (2/16/1782); for Misericórdia connection see Alves, “Comércio . . .,” RHSP, 18:69 (Jan.-March, 1967), 94.


Ruy, Cam&ra, pp. 364-365; AHU, Bahia docs. 8806 (10/20/1775); 9625, 1777, 8875 (list of familiares, 10/16/1775). Another merchant, Tomás Gomes Marinho da Gama served as Procurador of the Camara in 1781 and again in 1789. Ruy, Camára, p. 364; list of the Utéis regiment, 11/2/1774. AHU, Bahia doc. 8671.


Quoted in Russell-Wood, p. 64.


The ability to grant or withdraw craft or retail merchant licenses was a potentially powerful tool. The almotacéis (municipal inspectors) were to enforce Senado regulations. For an example of non-licensed merchants pressured by the Senado see, Arquivo Municipal da Bahia (AMB), Atas de Camára, vol. 22, enum. 34 (1776-1786), fol. 9 (8/7/1776). See a Senado appeal for Crown assistance to enforce regulations, 11/20/1771, AHU, Bahia Códice 251, 67V-68; see the ordinances of 1785 in “A Bahia de outros tempos: as posturas do Senado da Camara em 1785,” Revista do Instituto Geográfico e Histórico de Bahia (RIGHdBa), 4:11 (March 1897), 47-72. For abuses see Vilhena, I, 79-80. Merchants also dominated the Public Granary (Celeiro Público) after its establishment in 1785, Anon., “O Celleiro de Bahia,” RIGHdBa, 3:10 (Dec. 1896), 565-580; also see AMB, Atas da Camára, 23:35, 120V-121 (3/23/1793); AMB, Officios. 3:533, 195V-196, (3/10/ 1804).


Pombal described the 1756 alvará banning comissários volantes as having “. . . restored to [merchants of] Portugal and Brazil the commissions which had been deprived them so that they could establish great [trading] houses . . . [and] prevail against interlopers or contrabandists for the well-being of Commerce,” Pombal to Manuel Teles da Silva in Anais da Academia Portuguêsa da História (AAPH), Ser. II:6, 419. Retail merchants insisted on strict enforcement of the ban, often operating through the Senado. See “Representação dos mercadores”, 3/20/1782, AHU, Bahia docs. 10.978; and 10.979, (7/12/1782); 11.031-11.034, (6/5/1782); 11.190, (2/4/1783).


Bulcão Sobrinho, III, 29-30; Vilhena, II, 322, 316; Antônio Loureiro Souza, Bahianos ilustres, 1564-1925 (Salvador da Bahia, 1969), p. 24.


Pinho, p. 101; Jaboatão, p. 84.


It is not yet possible to calculate the frequency of intermarriage between these two groups, though Catherine Lugar’s research will provide data on this subject.


For example, Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira, in Bulcão Sobrinho, III, 32, 33; for case of Teodózio Gonçalves da Silva, see Brasil, Arquivo Nacional, Repertório das sesmarias da Bahia, 1750-1800 (Rio, 1968), p. 13, item 31 (1811).


Silva Lisboa to Vandelli, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 501.


See for example Francisco Vicente Viana, son of merchant Frutuoso Vicente Viana, Repertório das sesmarias, p. 30, item 106, (1818).


For a contemporary reputational status assessment of the senhores de engenho, see “Discurso preliminar,” ABNRJ, 27 (1905), 290.


Approximately five to six percent of the merchant community owned engenhos. This conclusion is based on Ms. Lugar’s findings as reported in “The Mercantile Community of Salvador, Bahia 1780-1830,” p. 9.


“Relatório do Marquês do Lavradio,” in Antonio de Sousa Pedroso Carnaxide, O Brasil na administração pombalina (Rio, 1940), pp. 304-305; Bulcão Sobrinho, III, 34.


Kenneth Maxwell, “Pombal and the Nationalization of the Luso-Brazilian Economy,” HAHR, 48:4 (November 1968), 620-621; Alden, pp. 9-11.


This figure does not include the municipal council or administrative agencies operated by the personnel of other agencies. Caldas, pp. 73-88; also see Vilhena, II, 334-344.


The figure of five hundred is given by Melo e Castro in his “Instrução para o Marquês de Valença,” ABNRJ, 32, 440-441; Caldas, pp. 73-88, 102-130.


Vilhena, II, 308-312; birth-place data was compiled mainly from the works of Jaboatão and Bulcão Sobrinho. The Bahian-born were excluded by a royal decree of 1670; nonetheless, there were several Bahian-born judges who served in Bahia in the late seventeenth, early eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. The 1670 decree is discussed in C. R. Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics: The Municipal Councils of Goa, Macao, Bahia, and Luanda, 1510-1800 (Madison, 1965), 87-88; also see Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society.


Stuart B. Schwartz, “Magistracy and Society in Colonial Brazil,” HAHR, 50:4 (November 1970), 729.


Alden, p. 433; Russell-Wood, pp. 240-241. Stuart Schwartz found that fifteen percent of Relação judges married in Bahia during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. These unions were usually with families of senhores de engenho. (Schwartz, “Magistracy,” 725-726.) A governor-general’s 1799 report on the Relação provides a variety of cases of influence-peddling. One judge “was cohabiting with a widow, Dona Rita Portugal, frequenting her (town) house, accompanying her to the engenho she owned . . ., and championing her (legal) causes against others which were still on the docket . . .” Another judge “sought friendships among merchants and senhores de engenho and. .was known to have fixed the price for the settlement of several cases.” Still another judge attended the parties of landowners who had cases before him and borrowed money from merchants so that he might trade in sugar and tobacco. (Accioli-Amaral, III, 221-222.)


Governor-general Rodrigo José de Menezes reporting on the marriage of Desembargador Antônio Feliciano da Silva Carneiro, 5/31/1787, AHU, Bahia doc. 12.517. By decree of May 26, 1734, magistrates could not marry in the colonies without royal permission. See docs. 13.363, 13.364 (10/19/1789).


Alden, pp. 295-298.


Caldas, pp. 102-131.


“Relação das pessoas que arremataram as propriedades de diversos officios . . .,” 6/22/1762 AHU, Bahia docs. 5895, 5896; and 6631-6632, (7/13/1764); see the case of Alcaide Mór José Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque, 7/10/1766 docs. 7184, 7185, see also Jaboatão, pp. 55, 66; and Alden, p. 22, n.80.


For examples of an office being held for several generations see Jaboatão, p. 278, and Bulcão Sobrinho, II, 12-13. The Crown tried frequently to end this practice apparently without much success. Alvará of 11/23/1770 AHU, Bahia, doc. 15.920.


Alden, pp. 315-316; also see Schwartz, “Magistracy,” 728.


“Officio do Governo Interino para Mendonça Furtado,” 2/13/1763 AHU, Bahia docs. 6027, and 6303 (6/20/1763); 6458 (1/15/1764); 7347 (8/6/1766); 7466 (11/4/1766); 8023 (5/29/1769); 8109 (10/20/1769); 9244, (10/30/1776); 10.247 (6/6/1779); 10.368 (1/27/1776); 10.647 (8/6/1780); 11.020, (5/28/ 1782); 12.997 (7/22/1788); Arquivo Histórico Militar, Lisboa, Brazil, Bahia 8(3° vol.), pasta 27.


Forty percent of the top military officers came from artisan, retail merchant, or lower level bureaucratic backgrounds. These figures are based upon a list of two hundred military personnel who held the ranks of colonel, It. colonel, regimental sergeant major, and captain in the regular army, and those who held the ranks of captain major, master-of-the field (a title later changed to colonel), sergeant major, and adjutant of the reserve forces. The list was compiled from ‘Mapa completa da Guamição da Bahia,’ (1766) in AHU, Bahia doc. 7426; ‘Mapa.. . .,’ (1791) 14.397, also promotion records, docs. 6044 (2/18/1763); 6045 (7/22/1762); 7303-7304 (1765); 8655 (7/9/1774); 8075 (9/2/1769); 9599(11/14/1777); 11.867 (9/30/1785); 12.999 (7/22/1788); 14.275 (2/1/1791); 14.277 (1/1/1791); and from various petitions in the AHU. The following sources were used for militia officers: AHU, Bahia Códice 251, 69v-92, doc. 8871 (8/20/1775); 8875 (1775); also see AMB, Atas.. . ., vol. 22, enum. 34, and vol. 22, enum. 35, for Senado approval of militia nominations. For Senado militia salary payments see “Pagamentos do Senado,” 1750-1810 unnumbered vol., enum. 249. These records were used in conjunction with membership records of the Arquivo da Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Bahia, Livros de termos, 4, 5, and 6, Jaboatão and Bulcão Sobrinho.


For two cases, in one of service up to 22 years, AHU, Bahia docs. 466 (3/22/1753), 614 (5/25/1753), 4798 (3/20/1760), 8601 (1/29/1774); and 9361 (4/4/1777).


Sources cited in n.48.


AHU, Bahia doc. 5506 (9/25/1761).


Azambuja to Mendonça Furtado, 10/4/1766, AHU, Bahia doc. 7466. Viceroy Conde de Noronha complained to Pombal that he could not find any soldiers of distinguished family name. This was so, he remarked, because the infantry and artillery “. . . are composed of another type of people-runaways from other parts and mulattoes native to this country . . .”, AHU, Bahia doo 2441 (5/2/1757). For other remarks see docs. 7331, (8/4/1766); and 8863 (10/16/1775).


Only two out of the group of two hundred were sons of high-ranking bureaucrats (that is, judges and executives, of whom there were about 25).


For information on these periods of crisis see AHU, Bahia docs. 6021 (4/10/1762); 6046 (2/20/1763); 7006 (1/16/1766); 7467 (1766); 8657 (10/20/1774); 8798 (6/27/1775); 8863 (10/16/1775); 9192 (10/29/1776); 9228 (1776); 9608 (11/15/1777); 14.394 (7/11/1791); also Arquivo Público da Bahia, Seção Histórica, Ordens Régias, 1762-1764, 23; Vilhena, II, 416, 420-421.


There were two types of militia units, the Auxiliares and the Ordenanças. The auxiliar units were composed of able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and fifty and could be used outside their home district. The Ordenança units were similar but they could not be assigned duty outside their home district. In actual practice these and other distinctions generally were ignored.


The number of militia units steadily increased in the period 1766-1810. Their most rapid growth took place after various reforms in 1766, 1779, 1787, 1796, and 1808. the top positions in the fifteen to twenty militia units were never vacant for long.


Sources cited in n.48.


AHU, Bahia doc. 8667 (11/2/1774); doc. 10.486 (8/12/1776); “Mapa do Regimento das Utéis,” 11/2/1774, doc. 8671; Vilhena, II, 415-416, I, 244-245.


Patent dated 3/15/1762, AHU, Bahia Caixa 81, unnumbered documents.


Sources cited in n.48.


For an example, AHU, Bahia doc. 10.686 (11/9/1780).


Also see Manchester, “The Rise,” p. 162.


Russell-Wood, pp. 110-111, 119, 123, 132-133, 135, and 354.


Ibid., p. 120.


Vilhena, II, 314; Ruy, Camâra, pp. 361, 362, 365-367. See Stuart Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society, pp. 349-352.


Ruy, Camâra, pp. 361-365.


AHU, Bahia doc. 16.441 (6/11/1794); Valença to Melo e Castro, 9/9/1782, doc. 11.133. This post had long been in the hands of Brazilian-born. AHU, Bahia Códice 251, 61v-62, (3/3/1770); Valença to Melo e Castro, 1/31/1782, doc. 10.940.


Vilhena, III, 316, 322; Ruy, Camâra, 365; AHU, Bahia doc. 14.996 (4/26/1792); for his antecedents see 14.566 and 707 (8/2/1753).


Francisco de Morais, “Estudantes brasileiros na Universidade de Coimbra 1772-1872,” ABNRJ, 62 (1940), 209; Loureiro Souza, p. 46.


de Morais, pp. 177, 187, 211.


‘Mapa’ of 6/29/1766, AHU, Bahia doc. 7426; doc. 14.397 (6/11/1793).


See for example, Mrs. Kindersley, Letters from the Island of Teneriffe, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and the East Indies (London, 1777); p. 45; Thomas Lindley, Narrative of a Voyage to Brazil . . . (London, 1805), pp. 246, 266.


Silva Lisboa to Vandelli, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 501; Nicolass W. Posthumus, Inquiry into the History of Prices in Holland (2 vols, Leiden, 1964), I, 120-121, 123-124, II, 281-284, 665, 736, 740.


Katia M. de Queirós Mattoso, “Conjuncture et société au Brésil a la fin du XVIIIe siècle,” Cahier des Ameriques Latines, no. 5 (Jan.-June, 1970), 33-34, 36, 41; Roberto Simonsen, História económica do Brasil, 1500-1820 (6a ed., São Paulo, 1969), pp. 362-364, 367; “Discurso preliminar. . .,” ABNRJ (1905), 27, 285; see the 1778 comments on the Brazilian economy of the French consul to Lisbon in Vitorino Magalhães Godinho, Prix et monnaies au Portugal 1750-1850 (Paris, 1955) pp. 336-341.


The chancellor of the Relação observed that merchants rarely received full repayment of loans. AHU, Bahia doc. 7394 (8/14/1766). Also see Soeiro, pp. 11, 13.


The interest rate was fixed at 5 percent by alvará of January 17, 1757. (F. da C. França/compiler/, Collecção chronologica de leis extravagantes. . . (5 vols., Coimbra, 1819), IV, 8-11; interest rates also mentioned in Russell-Wood, p. 198).


The economic circumstances of the cane growers and sharecroppers were undoubtedly different. See the comments of Cypriano Lobato Mendes in ABNRJ, 34 (1912), 93; Silva Lisboa to Vandelli, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 500-501; also Stuart Schwartz, “Free Labor in a Slave Economy: The Lavradores de Cana of Colonial Bahia,” Colonial Roots of Modern Brazil: Papers of the Newberry Library Conference, ed. Dauril Alden (Berkeley, 1973), pp. 147-197.


Kenneth Maxwell, “The Generation of the 1790’s and the Idea of Luso-Brazilian Empire,” Colonial Roots, p. 121. Silva Lisboa estimated that the population of the city of Bahia was 50,000, and only a quarter of that number were white, ABNRJ, 32 (1910), 505. Vilhena estimated the white portion of the population at one-third, cited in Maxwell, “Generation,” 118 n. 45.


Maxwell, “Generation,” 119. For the socio-economic background of those accused in 1798, see Queirós Mattoso, p. 44. In a letter of February 13, 1799, Governor-general Fernando José de Portugal wrote: “. . . I cannot persuade myself that the leading citizens of this captaincy follow these abominable [French] principles. Certainly, I have no reason to suspect the merchant estate (corpo do comércio), nor men employed in public occupations, nor men of means. None of them showed sympathy when seditious papers appeared laying bare the wretched intent of some individuals, almost all from the lower class . . ..” He noted that it would not be natural for “. . . men employed and established who have riches and property to want to join a conspiracy which would result in disastrous consequences to themselves, and expose them to assassination by their own slaves.” Published in Affonso Ruy, A primeira revolução social brasileira, 1798 (3d ed., Rio, 1970), pp. 149-150.


Maxwell, “Generation,” 124-128, 139, 140-141.


Quoted in ibid., 137.


Ibid., pp. 133-137. 143.


Haring, p. 7, says 15,000 Portuguese arrived and monopolized the offices and sinecures in government.” Graham, pp. 106-107, says the same. See the various estimates in Alan K. Manchester, “The Growth of Bureaucracy in Brazil 1808-1821,” Journal of Latin America Studies, 4:1 (May 1972). 78 n.3.


Manchester’s work on the growth of bureaucracy in Rio still is only a beginning on that subject.


Varnhagen, História da independência do Brasil (Rio, 1917), pp. 35-44.


Ibid., pp. 90-96, 367-370. Also see Braz do Amaral, História da independência na Bahia (Salvador da Bahia, 1957), pp. 65-72, 175-178, 236-246, 318.


Lugar, p. 7; Amaral, p. 405, 416.


Sodré, op. cit., 176-184, 187; Caio Prado Júnior, Evolución política del Brasil y otros estudios, trans. C. Vitureira (Buenos Aires, 1964), 56-57; Emília Viotti da Costa, “Introdução ao estudo da emancipação política,” Manuel Nunes Dias, et al., Brasil em perspectiva (Sâo Paulo, 1968), p. 139.


The historical circumstances which prevented the formation of a cohesive elite in Recife are described in the brilliant regional study of Carlos Guilherme Mota, Nordeste 1817: estruturas e argumentos (São Paulo, 1972).

Author notes


The author is a Lecturer at Baruch College, City University of New York. Research for this article was aided by a National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship, and a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon. Mr. Kennedy would like to thank his very capable research assistant Lee Ann Kennedy, as well as Stuart Schwartz, Susan Soeiro, Catherine Lugar, and especially Kenneth Maxwell for their criticisms and suggestions. An earlier version of the study was read at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in December 1972.