Another important academic historical vista has recently been opened with the publication of José Honório Rodrigues’ multi-volume O Parlamento e a evolução national. Compiled with the assistance of Octaciano Nogueira and Professor Rodrigues’ tireless aid and lovely wife, Lêda Boechat Rodrigues, this set of volumes critiques and sets forth the most important issues debated in the Câmara dos Deputados and the Senado in the years 1826-40. Though, in his initial paragraphs, José Honório talks of a definitive parliamentary work from 1826 to the present, the vastness of this effort sobered him to concentrate on the early (and to me most exciting) national period. Professor Rodrigues and the reviewer were co-directors at the recent Regency Symposium (August, 1974) at the Arquivo Nacional in Rio de Janeiro where his contribution on Regency and early national historiography was one of the highpoints of the symposium. I recall a difference of opinion between us on the Evaristo-Feijó axis and the ascendancy of the conservatives from 1837 on as a minor confrontation.
O Parlamento is a compilation of the more important debates in the Cámara and the Senado. The volumes are based on three principal sources for their issue delineations; the Anais da Câmara dos Deputados, the Anais do Senado and the Revista Histórico e Geográfico Brasileira. The debates focus with clarity and brilliance on the articulate and masterful group of politicos and statesmen who rendered to Brazil’s early national period its constitutional democratic orientation. Professor Rodrigues’ fine academic and artistic hand brings the parliamentary force and acumen of Nicolau Vergueiro and Bernardo Vasconcelos (Brazil’s greatest parliamentary figure) into sharp prominence in the 1826-31 parliaments. From 1831-37, the moderate liberals are the “Lords of the Situation,” led by Evaristo da Veiga and Padre Diogo Feijó, the “grand old man of the party.” The 1837-40 years heralds the coming to power of the saquerema conservatives guided in parliament by the imposing Honório Hermeto Carneiro Leáo (later the Marquis of Paraná) and in the ministry by the former moderate chieftan Bernardo Pereira de Vasconcelos, with the Regent Pedro de Araújo Lima as the figurehead ruler. Also, we must not slight in these pages, the singular importance of Paulino Soares de Sousa, the architect of the conservative program with his Interpretive Act (1840) and later the Viscount of Uruguay.
The parliamentary debates from the Câmara and the Senado encompass the issues of press liberty, citizenship, ministerial responsibility to the Parliament, the criminal code of justice, the Cisplatine War, church-state relations and the role of the Câmara in Dom Pedro I’s autocratic monarchy (1822-31). After the April 7, 1831 Revolution, the debates centered on the Regency Act (1831), the role of the ministers (particularly Feijó’s Justice Ministry), finance, commerce and currency and the new relationship and balance between the provinces and Rio de Janeiro, as concretized in the Additional Act (1834). Volume IV, the last volume of the debates, concentrates on the battles for the passage of Paulino’s Interpretive Act, the “codicil” to the Additional Act as it was called, in which Teofilo Otóni fought a valiant losing battle to prevent its passage, and the parliamentary majority coup of 1840 which brought a young sixteen year old boy to the throne as Dom Pedro II. The machinations of the Andradas and other politicos to make this a reality contrasts rather poorly with the nobility of the statesmanship in the earlier parliaments. Professor Rodrigues also explores and comments upon the early history of the parliamentary process in Brazil and the roles of the ministers and Councils of State. O Parlamente is an impressive effort in synthesizing and concretizing parliamentary power when the Câmara dos Deputados was at its zenith. It is a valuable and welcome addition to Brazilian historiography which highlights and characterizes Brazil’s search for a democratic identity in the seedtime of its early nationality. The index volume, volume V, is an excellent aid to the events, issues and statemen who people the fabric of the preceding four volumes.