An equal distribution of property among daughters and sons is the overriding pattern of inheritance in Latin America. The practice of entailment did exist during the colonial period, but it never represented the general practice and disappeared after independence. Though families used various strategies to avoid the fragmentation of property, the law of partible inheritance exerted a steady gravitational pull. As a result, great estates arose and eroded within a few generations, to be replaced by others with different boundaries. Historians of Latin America have amply scrutinized the peaks in this changing landscape, giving less attention to the rubble in the valleys and almost none to the process itself.1 Yet the process of inheritance and subdivision became crucial in a traditional rural society like that of Brazil’s southern borderland, where martial values dominated and the techniques of ranching evolved hardly at all during the nineteenth century. As successive generations sought to emulate their parents’ way of life on the land, the average scale of borderland landholdings steadily declined. This study explores the contours of the process of inheritance and subdivision in the period from the definitive Portuguese conquest of the borderland (1801) to the “Revolution of 1893,” a bloody civil war partly explicable by the pressures of subdivision.2

The Original Distribution of Property, 1790-1822

Brazil’s southern border took its present shape only after a hundred years of intermittent warfare between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, ending with final Portuguese gains in 1801. At that time, the southernmost area of Portuguese imperial claims centered on the walled port city of Rio Grande. Along the Rio Grande Frontier, the Portuguese crown distributed miles of rolling grassland to the officers of its victorious armies with the provision that they defend their land against the Spanish.3 Two families who acquired such landholdings will provide illustrative examples of the original distribution of property and of its subsequent inheritance and subdivision. Their names were Silva Tavares and Amaro da Silveira. Azorean-born militiamen José da Silva Tavares and Manuel Amaro da Silveira claimed land only a few kilometers from the border, near the advanced military outpost of Herval.4 The plains of this no man’s land between empires were cold, windy, and rainy in the Southern Hemisphere winter, good lands for horses and tough longhorn cattle all year round, and the lands became better as one progressed south. In Herval, our Azorean militiamen married Joana and Maria Antônia Muniz, whose family had been expelled by the Spanish from a more southern area. The grants of property, or sesmarias, received by such couples provide a relatively uniform starting point for a study of land tenure.

The Portuguese crown granted less than two hundred sesmarias in roughly twenty-five thousand square kilometers of the Rio Grande Frontier.5 These were huge landholdings by modern standards. Titles of sesmaria normally specified three Portuguese square leagues in a rectangle one by three leagues—an expanse of about one hundred thirty square kilometers. Many families managed to get even more land by obtaining grants of sesmaria in the names of various family members. The Amaro da Silveiras drew particularly on the name of their favorite son-in-law, a well-known war captain.6 They collected at least four grants of land before the distribution ended in 1822. Their sons in the army gathered semiwild longhorn cattle during the repeated invasions of Spanish territory. By 1824 there were 17,000 cattle on the lands of the Amaro da Silveiras. They used the profits of their herds to buy more land. Eventually, the family had acquired over twelve hundred square kilometers of pasture, about half the parish of Herval.7

The size of individual sesmarias varied considerably, because only the crudest measurement occurred at the time of the grant. The title’s crucial function was to name the boundaries of the property, the particular streams and ridges which would divide it from surrounding claims. Dense brush along the stream banks served to contain the herds of cattle. The natural shape and scale of watersheds predominated over the geometry of surveyors in the creation of sesmarias, and “three square leagues” on the sesmaria deed might be quite a bit over or under their metric equivalent of 13,068 hectares.8 The “three square leagues” issued to Joana and José da Silva Tavares turned out to be only about one and a half square leagues when a more careful accounting was done on the occasion of José’s death in 1813. The Silva Tavares family later ranked among the most powerful of the Rio Grande Frontier, though not because of their sixty-five square kilometers of property, modest indeed for recipients of a sesmaria.9

The original distribution of property excluded everyone not essential to the Portuguese crown’s project of conquest. According to an 1814 census, 3,673 people lived in the twenty-five thousand square kilometers of the Rio Grande Frontier: 1,439 Portuguese settlers (European- and American-born), 1,535 black and mulato slaves, 335 free men and women of color, and 182 Indians. The census also listed 182 newborns, without troubling to discriminate as to race since so many would not live to form a permanent part of the population. In sum, almost two-thirds of the population was left out of the crown’s distribution of land.10 In this wild frontier, the few hundred families who received land desperately needed the labor power of the many who received nothing. During the early part of the nineteenth century, wages were high. More importantly, subsistence privileges were readily granted to landless families willing to become agregados. In return for watching over the herds of the landowner, agregados could graze their own horses and cattle on his land. Most landless families lived as agregados rather than wage laborers. Paternalism, rather than the logic of the market, dominated social relations.11

Thus, the social pyramid of the borderland was divided into rough thirds: at the top, Portuguese landowners and their families; then the agregados, whose racial origins varied; and, at the bottom, the enslaved Africans whose large numbers distinguish the Brazilian borderland from similar ranching areas in the Río de la Plata. The Silva Tavares family had nine slaves at this time; the Amaro da Silveiras had five times as many (though most of them were children). Ranching requires mounted workers who are not easily supervised and have ample opportunities to escape. To hold on to their slaves, estancieiros considered the dictates of humanity the most economical policy.12 They could easily afford it. Beef had practically no exchange value on early nineteenth-century estôncias, and it became even more abundant whenever the market demand for cattle fell off. Since the longhorns continued their spontaneous reproductive rate of 20 to 25 percent a year, and since too large a herd would damage the grass by overgrazing, more animals were then killed for consumption on the estâncias. The hides of animals consumed could still be sold to the keeper of a rural store for more than half the price of the animal alive. Overall, providing good living conditions for estância slaves was not costly to the estancieiro.13

In contrast to the situation on sugar or coffee plantations in other parts of Brazil, estância subsistence and market production were practically identical and capital outlays small. Market fluctuations rarely forced estancieiros to sell their land. The same elastic adaptation to the market characterized the xarqueadas (commercial slaughterhouses) which constituted the only industrial establishments in early Rio Grande do Sul. Dozens of xarqueadas clustered along the coastal estuary at Pelotas, the market town for much of the borderland. These xarqueadas were very simple affairs and functioned only a few months in the year. Their fixed capital included only a shed with a large vat, ranks of drying rails on four-foot posts, and some corrals. To slaughter the cattle, the xarqueada workers used the same techniques estância people used to kill animals for their daily meat: slashing their throats and hoisting the animals to drain their blood. After cutting away the valuable hide, the workers sliced the flesh into “blankets,” immersed these in the vat of brine, and spread them to dry on the racks. Work conditions in xarqueadas contrasted sharply with conditions on estâncias, however. Visitors to Pelotas in its midnineteenth-century heyday described prison-like compounds where the slaves lived in conditions of appalling brutality.14

By 1822 all the land of the Rio Grande Frontier had been distributed to a handful of socially dominant families in portions of many square kilometers each. Most borderlanders remained landless. Among the fortunate who received land, the Amaro da Silveira and Silva Tavares families exemplify the range of scale in its distribution. While the largest grants of sesmaria were modest beside some Argentine landholdings of the period,15 even the smallest would support a sizable herd of cattle. At the starting point of the process of inheritance and subdivision, then, the landscape consisted of one large property after another, all engaged in the familiar activities of ranching. But borderland estancieiros could not do what generations of powerful landowners had done before them. They could not entail their estates to be inherited without subdivision by one heir. That aristocratic custom was prohibited by law in 1835.16 It is difficult to quantify the complex process of subdivision and reshuffling which resulted from the legal necessity of partible inheritance for even a small region, since the transfers of title were documented in thousands of scattered court and notarial manuscripts, many of which have been lost. Despite the complexities, however, the broad outlines of the process are clear. By 1893, most landholdings in the old Rio Grande Frontier were much smaller than the original sesmarias.

The Process of Inheritance and Subdivision

The law required an equal division of property among all the heirs, and an inheritance proceeding was a legal necessity for the transfer of title from one generation to the next. A particularly simple and amicable proceeding might be drawn up by the family itself with the aid of a notary, but the great majority of proceedings passed through a court, most often a probate court assigned to guarantee the property rights of minors. The judicial archives of Rio Grande do Sul (like public archives throughout Brazil) house mountains of thick probate proceedings which divide inheritances equally among the heirs virtually without exception. No exceptions, at any rate, were identified in the more than three hundred manuscripts examined for the present study.17

The heart of each proceeding was the inventory and division of the estate. Court appraisers calculated the value of the estate by counting the herds, estimating the extension of the land, and describing the house and other property. Half of the total patrimony went to the surviving spouse, and the other half was parceled out among the legitimate daughters and sons, so many cattle and so much pasture for each.18 The four Silva Tavares children, for example, each received as their paternal inheritance an assortment of property—called the legítima paterna—worth one eighth the value of the estate. As his legítima paterna young João da Silva Tavares received a hundred cattle, three saddle horses, three yokes of oxen, his father’s sword, a slave, and one eighth of the land. At his mother’s death a few years later, João and his siblings would receive similar parcels as their legítimas maternas. The assortment of goods in each parcel necessarily varied, but an attempt was made to give each heir some of everything.19

Most subdivided parcels of land (often referred to simply as quinhões, meaning "inherited portions") were too small to measure in square leagues. Instead, borderlanders reckoned the area of quinhões in much smaller units: braças de légua (strips of land 2.2 meters wide and one league long), quadras (rectangular blocks sixty braças wide and one league long), or even square braças (each just under 5 square meters). When the imperial government conducted a general registration of land titles in the 1850s,20 these smaller units of measurement already characterized the cadastral records of the borderland’s older parishes like Herval, where the Silva Tavares and Amaro da Silveiras lived. In the more recently settled parishes farther inland, square leagues or fractions of leagues remained the rule.21

The land registration of the 1850s permits us to visualize the distribution of landholding in a number of borderland parishes midway in the period covered by this study. Table 1 and Figure 1, for which the various measurements have been converted to hectares and the properties organized according to size, both indicate that the degree of subdivision varied geographically in an orderly progression from east to west. Landholdings were generally smaller in the older eastern parishes like Arroio Grande and Herval, generally larger in the newer western parishes like Uruguaiana and Alegrete, which were a generation behind in the process of inheritance and subdivision. Given the overriding uniformity of land quality and land use along the frontier, and in the absence of other potential explanations, the difference in the size of holdings must have resulted from the process of inheritance and subdivision. Other available forms of evidence (the units of measurement employed, the declining average size of inherited parcels, and comments in the press) confirm this impression.22

These data suggest an orderly process of subdivision that progressed at varying rates according to the number of heirs and the life spans of parents in each family. As for the number of heirs, the landowning families of the old Rio Grande Frontier produced a steady average of about six surviving children during the nineteenth century.23 Of course, family sizes varied enormously, but it may be said without exaggeration that these families were generally prolific. The Silva Tavares family had four children and forty-one grandchildren; the Amaro da Silveiras had fifteen children and eighty-four grandchildren. Like family size, individual life spans varied enormously. The violent milieu of the borderland produced many early deaths, but health conditions were good and borderland centenarians fairly common. Maria Antônia outlived eleven of her fifteen children. The four who survived her were all over seventy themselves when they received title to their inheritance in 1872. These heirs already had adult grandchildren of their own.24

Obviously, progressive subdivision could not continue ad infinitum. Sooner or later the inherited parcels of land reached a size which people considered unviable as productive rural properties. In addition, because wire fences did not become common in the borderland until the close of the nineteenth century, the size of naturally bounded pastures defined the practical limits of subdivision. Landowning families adopted various strategies to combat the effects of progressive subdivision. These strategies slowed the progress of subdivision generally and allowed some families to increase their holdings at the expense of others, but the overall tendency was always toward increasing fragmentation of the property map.

Family Strategies

While some nineteenth-century borderlanders clung more closely to the traditional estância life, others became entrepreneurs, professionals, and civil and military bureaucrats. The Amaro da Silveiras continued in a traditional fashion, buying more land across the border in Uruguay. But this solution to the problem of progressive subdivision disappeared with the tightening of the Uruguayan land market after 1850. Thus the family managed only to delay subdivision and gradually declined in importance. Meanwhile, the Silva Tavares family, whose original landholdings were much smaller, successfully diversified and became one of the leading families of late imperial Rio Grande do Sul. In the 1870s, their borderland estate was of the kind that gave the region a reputation for latifundia. But among the landowning families around them, this rejuvenation of power and prestige was rare. Most families only delayed subdivision without finding any way to avoid it. The prohibition of entail has already been mentioned. Another strategy favored in earlier times, dowries giving a daughter more than an equal portion of the inheritance, had also fallen into disuse.25 Before examining the strategies which borderlanders did employ to counteract subdivision, we might ask why they did not simply make rural production more intensive and profitable as landowners in parts of Uruguay and Buenos Aires province did during the late nineteenth century.

During the nineteenth century, Brazilian borderlanders did not acquire the techniques of scientific husbandry which might have made subdivided pastures as productive as larger ones using traditional methods. They valued the style of ranching practiced for generations and calculated well-being in terms of scale: square leagues of pasture, hundreds of horses, and thousands of longhorn cattle. Even rich families like the Amaro da Silveiras showed scant interest in technical improvements like fancy breeds.26 Borderlanders properly mistrusted the benefits of innovation. The switch from longhorns to Herefords held multiple uncertainties for them. Because of their fattier meat, fancy European cattle made poor xarque, and their hides were worth less than the thick hides of longhorns. The new breeds’ profit-making potential could only be realized by modern frigorífico packing plants, and Rio Grande do Sul had none until the First World War. A shortage of outside capital seems partly responsible for this bottleneck,27 but there was, at any rate, scant impetus toward innovation within the borderland itself. Using traditional methods, the landholdings of an average sesmeiro would have to be expanded—tripled, on an average—if his six hypothetical heirs were to preserve the living standards and social status (i.e. land, cattle, and horses) of their parents’ generation.28

Fortunately for the second and third generations of Rio Grandense borderlanders, the sparsely populated lands across the Uruguayan border functioned as an open frontier where families might easily expand their holdings and provide their children with estâncias like those of the parents. Uruguay provided opportunities to acquire land because land had been distributed there originally in a fashion quite different from the distribution of sesmarias in Rio Grande do Sul.29 In Uruguay the dominant pattern had been land speculation by powerful individuals close to the viceregal court in Buenos Aires. The properties claimed by such speculators were dozens of times larger than Rio Grandense sesmarias, and rarely were they settled by their original owners, who often intended only to resell them later for a profit. In the meantime, the owner might send parties of men to hunt feral cattle, bringing back only their hides. The open spaces claimed but not effectively settled remained home to drifting groups of plains people who had been there for several generations. Christian and often Spanish-speaking, though predominantly Guaraní in origin, these people had escaped from Jesuit missions destroyed by Portuguese imperial expansion in the 1750s. The displaced Guaraníes fled south into Uruguay where they met and melded with another group of plains outcasts, whites and mestizos from the Platine provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos. These Guaraní borderlanders were always comparatively few and never held title to the land. Eventually, Spanish and Portuguese settlers acquired legal claim to the borderlands and established estâncias there, expelling the original borderlanders or keeping them as agregados.30

Wars kept the price of Uruguayan land low, to the advantage of Brazilian borderlanders. The Rio Grandenses dominated their Spanish-speaking neighbors during the wars against the Uruguayan patriot caudillo José Artigas (1810-19), then occupied Uruguay until 1825. They continued to move into the Uruguayan north during the Guerra Grande (an 1842-51 civil war involving Uruguay and Argentina), which concluded with yet another Brazilian invasion. During the first half of the nineteenth century, many Rio Grandense families found Uruguayan lands abandoned and were able to occupy them without title. Rio Grandense estancieiros had the support of Brazilian authorities, who maintained a menacing military presence at the border. One way or another, a steady flow of Rio Grandense border-landers settled huge areas of the Uruguayan north. Eventually, Brazilians owned more land in the Uruguayan borderland than did Uruguayans, and Portuguese replaced Spanish as the principal tongue there.31

The strategy of emigration to Uruguay also presented some difficulties for Rio Grandense families. Until the 1870s, the Uruguayan side of the borderland remained a lawless and violent place, crisscrossed by bandits and deserters from the frequent wars. In addition, Rio Grandense estancieiros seldom really trusted the Spanish-speaking authorities and police. Uruguayan judges had a natural sympathy for Uruguayan owners who were reclaiming property from Brazilian occupants, as happened to various second-generation members of the Silva Tavares and Amaro da Silveira families.32 In 1842 slavery became illegal in Uruguay, and Uruguayan authorities occasionally discomfited the Brazilian estancieiros by working to make abolition effective. Manuel Amaro da Silveira suffered the interference of an Uruguayan judge regarding his slaves and also regarding an Uruguayan law which prohibited the export of cattle during the Guerra Grande.33 Eventually, the greatest limit to the opportunity of acquiring land in Uruguay was the success of so many Rio Grandenses in buying it up. As the price of land rose in the last third of the century, the immigration of Rio Grandense estancieiros declined sharply.34

People bought and sold land on the Brazilian side of the border as well, but there the result was reshuffling rather than expansion. Usually, all the estância families in a neighborhood wanted to acquire more land. Estância families of the borderland were not selecting spouses in an elite marriage emporium like Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, but among the landowning families of their own neighborhoods.35 One aspect of this pattern seems to have been the movement of daughters, who sold their quinhões to their brothers and used the money to expand property inherited by their husbands. The 1850s cadaster shows that daughters retained title to the land they inherited much less often than their brothers.36 The process of reshuffling allowed a new generation to put together contiguous estâncias out of pieces inherited from their parents, but the resulting properties were usually smaller. Traditional estâncias competed with each other on fairly even terms. Only rarely could the heirs of one family buy out the heirs of their neighbors. And even when they could, expanding at the expense of one’s neighbors and in-laws was necessarily fraught with tensions.

After the decline of opportunities in Uruguay, even rich families like the Amaro da Silveiras relied mostly on delaying tactics. As long as one of the parents survived, a traditional patriarchal arrangement made delay workable, and the subdivision resulting from the first inheritance proceeding was often ignored in practice. The authority of the patriarch—or, quite often, a matriarch like Maria Antônia—flowed both from custom and from the family head’s continued direct ownership of half the property. When the Brazilian empire conducted a cadastral survey in the 1850s, many properties were registered in the names of widows whose adult children lived on the land with families of their own. Such collective family enterprises had drawbacks as well as advantages. Many borderland families were fractious and violent; the Amaro da Silveira men killed each other with some frequency, particularly in conflicts over the family property. Inbreeding became a natural concern in the third generation, when young people were related to every eligible mate for many miles around.37 Of course, marriage between cousins did keep the land in the family, but it clearly violated important norms, as the following folk lyrics indicate:

And family ties too closely knit may have exacerbated violent behavior, as one suspects in the case of Maria Antônia’s grandson who, competing with his uncle for the hand of his cousin, became infuriated at an insult and stabbed his uncle in the back, triggering two further revenge murders among family members.40 Families like this could not long work together at the death of the matriarch or patriarch. Within three generations, all estâncias were subdivided in practice as well as title.

The estâncias of the nineteenth-century borderland offered a desirable way of life, but they were rarely a source of capital accumulation or power beyond the local level. The way to self-renewing wealth and major political influence was the abandonment of traditional estância life in order to learn an urban culture, to master the language of bureaucracy and law, or to engage in commerce and manufacturing. Given the attachment of Rio Grandense estancieiros to the estância life, diversification was a minority strategy, but it became more necessary as the scale of landholding declined. It was adopted early in the family of José and Joana da Silva Tavares, whose original sesmaria was a modest one. By the time of the 1850s cadaster, only one of the four Silva Tavares children retained any of the land they had inherited.41

The Silva Tavares heirs sold their inheritance and used the money from the sale to become entrepreneurs and civil and military bureaucrats, adopting the strategy most likely to rejuvenate the fortunes of the borderland’s founding families. The turning point was the ten-year Farrapo War that began in 1835. In that war, the Silva Tavares family remained loyal to the Brazilian empire, while most of the Amaro da Silveiras supported the secession of the province. The empire won, and José and Joana’s son João emerged from the war as a general, later to be made baron (and then viscount) of Serro Alegre in recognition of his service to the emperor.42 In 1859, João da Silva Tavares became imperial military commander of the southeastern border (a position in which his son would succeed him) and began to build a great estate near the National Guard headquarters in the borderland town of Bagé. The new Silva Tavares estate absorbed the subdivided lands of surrounding families until it constituted nine and one-half square leagues, many times the size of the family’s original sesmaria.43 The Silva Tavares family moved away from Herval and emerged as a leading family of the entire province. The second and third generations of Silva Tavares men became army officers, merchants, minor industrialists, and urban professionals. Two sons acquired titles of nobility, and each briefly figured as governor of the province. By the third generation the family was mostly urban in orientation.44

Very few borderland clans ever sat down to plan a “family strategy” beyond some immediate decision concerning whether their son should leave for Uruguay or their daughter should marry the notary public in town. Wills were rare, and landowning families attempted to meet the challenge of partible inheritance in manners that varied according to luck as much as anything else. Most simply delayed and watched their fortunes slowly decline. Even successful strategies created tensions. Emigration was not ideal, nor was marrying a cousin and forcing a sibling or in-law off neighboring lands, nor leaving the estância to enter a threatening urban environment.

A Social Powder Keg

In the years before the Rio Grandense civil war of 1893, the changing relationship between people and land had made borderland society explosive. Most volatile was the rising number of marginalized poor who could not find a place as agregados because of rapid population growth and because of the continuing subdivision of property.45 By 1884, the newspaper of Bagé had announced in tones of astonishment that a person could now die of hunger in the borderland. Two weeks before, the paper had reported how one estancieiro had slaughtered eight cattle to distribute to the poor. Such paternalism responded to more than “the impulses of a generous heart, however. By 1886, some borderland estancieiros were losing as many as eight cattle in a single week to midnight butcherings by the rural poor.46 An examination of cases of animal theft in the years before the 1893 civil war shows that the people accused of such crimes were usually day laborers with no way to feed themselves and nowhere to go. In addition, rural banditry became increasingly common.47 The relationship between the landed and the landless showed strain in other ways as well. Given the abundance of people willing to work for small wages, Rio Grandense estancieiros emancipated their slaves four years before national abolition. In rocky nooks between estâncias, along wooded river bottoms, and around the outskirts of borderland towns appeared the hovels of hungry, resentful people with no stake in the social order.48

As paternalistic social relations deteriorated in the 1870s and 1880s, landowning families confronted the specter of interclass violence. In earlier generations, relations between landed and landless rested in reciprocal obligations of patrão and agregado. Late-nineteenth-century circumstances eroded such relationships. Smaller estâncias left less room for agregados and their animals. Early in the century, a third of the probate inventories done on the Rio Grande Frontier had belonged to landless families with considerable wealth in animals, but by the 1890s the proportion was down to one in thirty.49 Increasingly, borderland estancieiros obeyed the logic of the market in dealing with their workers, who often reacted angrily. In 1887 a fourth-generation heir of the Amaro da Silveira fortune was dismissing an estância peão when, much to his surprise, the man pulled his knife and sliced open the young landowner’s belly in reply. Amaro da Silveira carried his entrails in his hands to the house of his uncle, where he expired shortly after telling the story. In 1890 another estância family in this small locality (population less than seven thousand) was found cut to pieces in their house and robbed of money from the recent sale of a herd. The exigencies of hunger show clearly in many criminal cases of the period. When workers on one Herval estância murdered their foreman in 1892, they slaughtered several cattle and delivered the meat to friends in the neighborhood before fleeing.50 By the 1890s, landowning borderlanders had good reason to dread the potential for violence around them.

To compound their dread, the perennial problems of inheritance and subdivision had plainly become almost insoluble for most landowning families. On the eve of the 1893 war, the quinhões inherited in Bagé showed a mean area of only 336 hectares.51 Such a piece of land would support only a very small herd of cattle, the size herd a well-off agregado might have owned at mid-century. As the scale of landholding declined, violent conflicts between neighboring estancieiros—often related to each other by blood and marriage—made intraclass violence more common as well. In Herval, when one estancieiro set his dog on his brother’s stray cattle (a practice the police called “very common and frequently observed among quarreling neighbors”), there ensued a gun battle in which both brothers were wounded. Within a couple of years, an estancieiro in nearby Jaguarão was accused of murdering his brother by witnesses who said the two were bitter enemies over boundary matters.52 In the 1890s, young people who had little inheritance often chose to move to the city. Such was the case of another fourth-generation Amaro da Silveira who in 1892 took his own life in the city of Porto Alegre. He had worked behind the counter of a retail establishment and lived in a rooming house. He left only a note pleading with his father and brother to get out of “that revolting politics.” This Amaro da Silveira was not a great landowner or even a respectable lawyer. He was a sales clerk. The strains of this kind of downward social mobility produced grave anxieties in families with many children and little land.53

Only a few months after the suicide of Amaro da Silveira, the “revolting politics” of Rio Grande do Sul exploded in civil war. A satisfactory explanation of the insurgency lies beyond the scope of this study. Essentially, it was a fight between “ins” and “outs” over control of the state government. In—since the fall of the monarchy in 1889—were a group of young and committed Republicans, led by thirty-year-old Júlio de Castilhos and supported by the Republican military presidents in Rio de Janeiro. Out were the gray-bearded leaders of the old monarchical parties, including senior members of the Silva Tavares and Amaro da Silveira families. Without disputing the advent of a new form of government, the old leaders refused to accept their summary eviction from the seats of power, and their home ground (the Rio Grande Frontier which has been the geographical focus of this study) became the epicenter of the revolt.54 In origin, then, the “Revolution of 1893” was an armed contest among elite groups, common in Latin American history and remarkable in this case merely because such struggles had been practically unknown in Brazil during the strong, centralized rule of Pedro II. As in the case of earlier revolts in the days of the emperor’s childhood, this one occurred at a moment of unusual weakness on the part of the central government. It occurred in Rio Grande do Sul because of the military experience of these particular “outs,” because of the aptitude of their rural retainers to become irregular light cavalry at a moment’s notice, and because of the tactical opportunities presented by the border itself.

Rio Grandenses remember the civil war of the 1890s above all for its barbarity. “Only now the insurrection of 1893 is beginning to be no longer a prohibited subject in Rio Grandense history,” wrote one of the state’s historians in the midtwentieth century.55 Partisan murders became epidemic for several years, and many of the war’s casualties were non-combatants. A miasma of horror hangs over partisan accounts of the war written by both the governing Republicans and their adversaries. Rural borderlanders executed their enemies just as they slaughtered animals for their daily table, with a single, massive cut from ear to ear, and tales of these degolas, in blood-curdling scenarios involving acts of mutilation or family forced to look on, became standard elements of partisan discourse surrounding the war. One of the war’s most famous acts of horror occurred when octogenarian Gen. João Nunes da Silva Tavares cornered the same party of Republicans who earlier had sacked Silva Tavares’s hometown of Bagé. Ladislau Amaro da Silveira, former National Guard colonel and long-time political chief of Herval, led the attack against these sworn enemies of both. After the Republicans surrendered, the vengeful insurgents cut the throats of dozens of their enemies and left their bodies to decompose in a heap which attracted the horrified gaze of people in passing trains for many months. The massacre of Rio Negro, as it was called for the mazelike headwaters where it occurred, is famous mostly because the victims were on the side which emerged victorious. The losing side remembered a similar mass execution of their own partisans which occurred elsewhere. Both massacres grew in people’s imaginations until the victims numbered in the hundreds. Macabre rumors about what was happening in the countryside ran rife among the people who took refuge from the violence in the cities of Rio Grande do Sul and across the border in Uruguay.56

Why the shocking violence that made the Revolution of 1893 perhaps “the single bloodiest episode in Brazilian political history”?57 It is here that our exploration of the patterns of land tenure provides new interpretive leverage. The pattern of progressive subdivision allows us to account for the intense psychological tensions existing in this society that suddenly tore at its own entrails in 1893. Drawing on the foregoing analysis, we can predict two sorts of tension: intraclass tension which grew as small landowning and agregado families struggled, with limited success, to maintain a highly valued way of life; and interclass tension which rose with the gradual dissolution of paternalistic social relations and the expulsion of former agregados from shrinking estâncias. In fact, the violence of 1892-95 displayed precisely these tensions. It flowed into intraclass partisan channels but gathered force from the explosive anger of the dispossessed. Small landowners and agregados, feeling the pinch of subdivision and bound by important alliances to leaders of opposing parties, killed their neighbors in vendettas of unprecedented brutality. The dispossessed rural poor joined both sides and vented their desperation on the fences, herds, and families of the landed and on each other as well. Uruguayan Historians have amply documented a similar combination of traditional partisan conflict and deteriorating social conditions in the revolt which began in the contiguous borderland of Uruguay three years later. Given the practical identity of the rural economy on either side of the border, a parallel development in Uruguay strongly corroborates the circumstantial argument made here.58

Wartime partisan propaganda with a nearly hysterical tone offers further clues about psychological pressures and their origin. A glance at the invasion proclamation which insurgent general Silva Tavares issued at the beginning of the uprising confronts us with images of ghoulish Republicans who murder children and “dance on the bodies of their victims.”59 A few miles away, Col. Amaro da Silveira harangued his contingent of invading horsemen to overthrow “a dominion of terror previously unknown” and assured them that God was on their side.60 Both insurgent leaders located key values in a lost golden age characterized by social harmony and warlike heroism. Clearly, this was a politics of nostalgia, of the type often used to attract the support of people on the losing end of social change. In this case it must have appealed most strongly to the small and middling landowners who descended from the original military settlers of the frontier. The gradual decay of their standard of living and the increasing menace of the destitute rural masses contrasted with memories of earlier times when land and cattle abounded. The prestige of their distinguished ancestry became all the more precious to small landowning families as the material signs of social prominence slipped irremediably beyond their economic means in the late nineteenth century. “Show yourselves worthy of your ancestors’ glorious legacy!” thundered old general Silva Tavares, thereby offering downwardly mobile borderlanders a way to vindicate their social pretensions.

The rhetoric of a heroic past operated also on the emotions of agregados who shared the experience of war with men of the landowning class. In earlier years, the relationship of reciprocal obligation between estancieiro and agregado had found its strongest reinforcement on the battlefield, and many a dependent family owed its security to that source. As for the dispossessed rural people who left few expressions of their ideas in the written record, they probably paid little attention to the speechifying of colonels and generals. Their mood may be well exemplified by the note one of them scrawled on a scrap of paper and left as an I.O.U. near the carcass of a cow that he killed for lunch a few years before the war: “I will pay the amount of twenty milréis for the cow I ate because I was hungry.” The writer dared the cow’s owner to “come charge me at the Rio Negro.” The stronghold of the insurgency of 1893 and the scene of its most famous settling of accounts was a well-known bandit hideout in the 1880s.61

The principal intention of this essay has been to suggest an idea generalizable far beyond a case study of land tenure in Brazil’s southern borderland. Historians of Latin America need to pay more attention to the institution of partible inheritance in conceptualizing the process of land tenure. Partibility has formed the basis of Latin American inheritance law since earliest times. Aristocratic entails might create a few exceptions to it, parental strategies of dowry and preferment might circumvent it to a degree, and inflows of capital might counteract it by allowing a reconcentration of landowning in new hands, but the effects of the basic inheritance law could never be ignored. In the case of the nineteenth-century borderland—where the frontier was closed, the export economy lethargic, and dowry in disuse—we see what happened logically in the absence of countervailing influences: a general decline in the scale of rural properties. Preoccupied with the great estate and with the ravages of agrarian capitalism, we have given insufficient attention to this process constantly and quietly at work in the Latin American countryside.

The research on which this article is based was funded by doctoral dissertation grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Social Science Research Council.


At present there is no general historical study of the inheritance and succession patterns crucial to any understanding of rural society beyond “the popular notion that Latin American rural proprietorship has until recently been characterized by a very few owning extensive tracts and most others possessing only tiny parcels or no land at all”: Keith A. Davies, Landowners in Colonial Peru (Austin, 1984), 4. Inheritance patterns have attracted some attention from historians of the family: Elizabeth Anne Kuznesof, "The History of the Family in Latin America: A Critique of Recent Work,” Latin American Research Review, 24:2 (1989), 168-186. See especially Alida C. Metcalf, “Fathers and Sons: The Politics of Inheritance in a Colonial Brazilian Township,” HAHR, 66:3 (Aug. 1986), 455-484, emphasizing parental manipulation of inheritance through dowries. For examples of progressive fragmentation of landholding associated with succession in a society and economy similar to that examined here, see María Sáenz Quesada, Los estancieros (Buenos Aires, 1980), 246-248, and Jonathan Brown, ASocioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860 (Cambridge, 1979), 146–162. Though consolidation of landholding characterized many areas in the neocolonial period, there are well-documented exceptions. See Robert H. Jackson, “The Decline of the Hacienda in Cochabamba, Bolivia: The Case of the Sacaba Valley, 1870-1929,” HAHR 69:2 (May 1989), 259-282.


The political violence of 1893-1895 in Rio Grande do Sul has never been interpreted through a close study of the rural milieu where it occurred. For a standard account of the period, see Joseph L. Love, Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism, 1882-1930 (Stanford, 1971).


Charles Gary Lobb, “The Historical Geography of the Cattle Regions Along Brazil’s Southern Frontier” (Ph D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1970), 141-142.


See Manuel da Costa Medeiros, História do Herval: descrição física e histórica (Porto Alegre, 1980), 60-69. The História do Herval is a fascinating antiquarian compendium written in the early twentieth century and based primarily on oral traditions.


The Rio Grande Frontier is distinct from the Rio Pardo Frontier, the more northerly current of Rio Grandense settlement which flowed inland from the sea along the Jacuí River. In the borderland, these two currents of settlement met between Bagé and Santana do Livramento (two borderland towns which grew up, as did Herval, on the sites of advanced military outposts). The study area is defined here as the modern municípios of Bagé, Pinheiro Machado, Piratini, Canguçu, Herval, Arroio Grande, and Jaguarão. Compare the maps on pp. 46 and 165 of Fundação de Economia e Estatística, De Província de São Pedro a Estado do Rio Grande do Sul—Censos do RS, 1803-1950 (Porto Alegre, 1981). The area in question is, more precisely, 24,700 square kilometers (pp. 107-108).


Medeiros, História do Herval, 300.


Ibid., 90-95; “Inventário de Manuel Amaro da Silveira,” Arquivo Público do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (abbreviated hereafter as APRGS), Jaguarão 1824, Cartório de Orfãos e Ausentes, maço 4, autos 76.

On the settlement of Rio Grande do Sul, see Oliveira Viana, Ocampeador riograndense, vol. II of his Populações meridionals do Brasil, 2 vols. (Rio de Janeiro, 1974): Guilhermino César, História do Rio Grande do Sul: período colonial (Porto Alegre, 1956); and Spencer L. Leitman, Raízes socio-econômicas da Guerra dos Farrapos: um capítulo da história do Brasil no século XIX (Rio de Janeiro, 1979).

The agrarian historians of Uruguay have produced an abundant bibliography much of which is useful for the study of early Rio Grande do Sul. See Aníbal Barrios Pintos, Historia de la ganadería en el Uruguay, 1574-1971 (Montevideo, 1973) and Esteban F. Campal, Hombres, tierras, y ganados (Montevideo, 1967).


APRGS, “Synopse das concessões de sesmarias,” Seção Extra Judiciária.


“Inventário de José da Silva Tavares,” APRGS, Jaguarão 1813, Cartório de Orfãos e Ausentes, maço 1, autos 22.


See early census summaries reproduced in Fundação de Economia e Estatística, Censos do RS, 1803-1950, 50. This enumeration surely missed hundreds of Indians and gaúchos, but that does not alter the basic demographic contours of the frontier.


This pattern of social relations appears to distinguish the Brazilian borderland from the province of Buenos Aires, where wage labor was more important. See Richard W. Slatta, Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier (Lincoln, 1983). Borderland agregados occupied a middling social position analogous to that of lavradores de cana in early Bahia. See Stuart B. Schwartz, “Plantations and Peripheries, c. 1580-c. 1750,” in Colonial Brazil, edited by Leslie Bethell (Cambridge, 1987), 90-92. The social patterns of the early borderland have been reconstructed from “Quadras da estatística territorial,” Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (hereafter abbreviated as AHRGS), Estatística 1847, lata 531. See also Sérgio da Costa Franco, Origens de Jaguarão, 1790-1833 (Porto Alegre and Caxias do Sul, 1980). No census manuscripts have survived for the Brazilian side of the border. Padrones of Uruguayan areas heavily populated by Rio Grandenses are therefore useful in describing social relations. Two relevant to the Rio Grande Frontier are “Padrón de Cerro Largo, 1836” and “Padrón de la segunda sección de Durazno,” Archivo General de la Nación, Montevideo (hereafter abbreviated as AGN), Ex Archivo General Administrativo, libros 273 and 280. An early padrón is published in Barrios Pintos, Rivera en el ayer: de la crónica a la historia (Montevideo, 1963), 73-80, in which (contrary to the author’s interpretation) the word dependientes refers to agregados.


Spencer L. Leitman, “Slave Cowboys in the Cattle Lands of Southern Brazil,” Revista de História, 51 (Jan.-Mar. 1975), 173-175.


A herd of 4,000 longhorns produced about 1,000 calves a year. More than 150 might die of natural causes, but that left ample stock to replace the animals sold (400 to 500) or consumed on the estância (at least 100). See Lobb, “Historical Geography of . . . Brazil’s Southern Frontier,” 154. César, OConde de Piratiní e a Estância da Música: administração de um latifúndio rio-grandense em 1832 (Porto Alegre and Caxias do Sul, 1978), 35-48, indicates the high quality of estância slaves’ diets.


Fernando Henrique Cardoso exposes the harsh treatment of slaves in the xarqueadas in Capitalismo e escravidão no Brasil meridional: o negro na sociedade escravocrata do Rio Grande do Sul (Rio de Janeiro, 1977). For contemporary descriptions of xarqueadas, see Auguste de Saint-Hilaire, Viagem ao Rio Grande do Sul (1820-1821) (Belo Horizonte, 1974), 66-68, and Nicolau Dreys, Notícia descritiva da Província do Rio Grande do São Pedro do Sul (Porto Alegre, 1961).


The Anchorena family of Buenos Aires owned 340,000 hectares in 1830, 958,000 hectares in 1864. See Slatta, Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier, 96.


Eul-Soo Pang, In Pursuit of Honor and Power: Noblemen of the Southern Cross in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (Tuscaloosa, 1988), 77.


See Table A, below.

Years surveyedData base
1801-28 100 inventories from Jaguarão and Bagé 
1850-59 93 inventories from Bagé 
1887-92 119 inventories from Bagé 
Years surveyedData base
1801-28 100 inventories from Jaguarão and Bagé 
1850-59 93 inventories from Bagé 
1887-92 119 inventories from Bagé 

Source: APRGS. Cartórios de Orfãos e Ausentes: Jaguarão, maços 1-4, autos 2-86; Bagé, maços 1, 3-6, and 27-33, autos 1-14, 68-161, 544-640. Cartório Civel e Crime: Bagé, maços 1, 3-4. autos 2, 136-168. Cartório da Provedoria: Bagé, maço 1, autos 3-8. The documents listed constitute all those extant (and legible) for the given years. They will be cited hereafter as “Inventory survey.”


See Pang, In Pursuit of Honor and Power, 236-263.


“Inventário de José da Silva Tavares, APRGS, Jaguarão 1813, Cartório de Orfãos e Ausentes, maço 1, autos 22.


For background, see Warren Dean, Latifundia and Land Policy in Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” HAHR, 51:4 (Nov. 1971), 606-625; José Murilo de Carvalho, “A modernização frustrada: a política de terras no Império,” Revista Brasileira de História, 1 (1981); and Emília Viotti da Costa, “Política de terras no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos,” in Da monarquia à república: momentos decisivos (São Paulo, 1977).


APRGS, Registros Paroquiais, Seção Extra Judiciária. In Herval and Arroio Grande, an old settlement area on the coast, four-fifths of the land areas were expressed in quadras or braças. But in the newer parishes inland to the west, like Alegrete or Uruguaiana, units below a half or quarter league occurred only rarely (about one-tenth of the properties registered).

Untapped by Histórians, the 1850s cadaster of Rio Grande do Sul is a rich source for the study of land tenure, but it must be interpreted with great care. In 1854, the vicar of each parish called for the registration of all land titles and claims. Each owner was to report the location, extension, and origin of his property, information which the vicar entered in a special parish register for a small fee. Late registration brought accumulating fines, and non-registration would imperil the claim, so most registers were finished by 1859. However, the registers are extremely uneven in execution. Many registrants reported only um quinhão” or some other indeterminate amount of land. Even when areas were given, they represented crude measures. Therefore, the quantitative comparisons elaborated from these surveys must be taken as broad approximations only.


The average size of probated properties for which land areas were given declined as shown in Table B.

YearsMean hectares
1801-28 8,489 
1850-59 6,283 
1887-92 1,914 
YearsMean hectares
1801-28 8,489 
1850-59 6,283 
1887-92 1,914 

Source: Inventory survey, APRGS.

These data contain many omissions and should be taken only as a rough indication, but the results are consistent with all other evidence. For comments in the press, see "Agrimensura,” Cruzeiro do Sul (Bagé), Mar. 9, 1884, and “Banco emissor,” Jornal do Commércio (Porto Alegre), Apr. 26, 1890.


See Table C, below.

1801-28 5.85 
1850-59 6.32 
1887-92 5.73 
1801-28 5.85 
1850-59 6.32 
1887-92 5.73 

Source: Inventory survey, APRGS.

In medieval Europe, the average number of heirs was not much more than two: Immanuel Le Roy Ladurie, “Family Structures and Inheritance in Sixteenth-Century France,” in Family and Inheritance: Rural Society in Western Europe, 1200-1800, ed. Jack Goody, Joan Thirsk, and E.P. Thompson (Cambridge, 1976), 43.


Medeiros, História do Herval, 292-295 and 332-333, provides the genealogy of these two families.


Though dowry apparently remained an option, there is no evidence that it was used to privilege one heiress over her siblings even among the titled nobility. See Pang, In Pursuit of Honor and Power, 130-158. This constitutes an important contrast with the situation in colonial São Paulo described by Metcalf in “Fathers and Sons.”


The 119 inventories surveyed for Bagé just before that conflict (1887-92) show only one-fifth of the properties clearly fenced. See also Severino de Sá Brito, Trabalhos e costumes dos gaúchos (Porto Alegre, 1928; reprint ed., n.d.), 25, and Sérgio da Costa Franco, “A campanha,” in Rio Grande do Sul: terra e povo (Porto Alegre, 1963), 70-71. In northern Uruguay, Rio Grandense estancieiros were the last to adopt innovative ranching techniques and scientific husbandry. See José Pedro Barrán and Benjamín Nahum, La historia social de las revoluciones de1897y 1904, vol. IV of their Historia rural del Uruguay moderno (Montevideo, 1972–), 77-89.


Sandra Jatahy Pesavento, República velha gaúcha: charqueadasfrigoríficoscriadores (Porto Alegre, 1980), 124—151. Foreign capital may well have gone preferentially to Buenos Aires. There seems to have been little capital accumulation taking place in the borderland itself. In arguing the need of a new “banco emissor” one newspaper article pointed out the gradual disappearance, because of subdivision of property among land-owners, of the great estâncias” that could afford to depend on quantity rather than quality of production. Jornal do Commércio, Apr. 26, 1890.


This rule of thumb assumes the heirs marry property roughly equal to their own.


See Nelson de la Torre, Julio C. Rodríguez, and Lucía Sala de Touron, Evolución económica de la Banda Oriental (Montevideo, 1967) and Félix de Azara, Memoria sobre el estado rural del Río de la Plata y otros informes (Buenos Aires, 1943).


See Washington Reyes Abadie, Oscar H. Bruschera, and Tabaré Melogno, La Banda Oriental: praderafrontera—puerto (Montevideo, 1974); Emilio Coni, El gaucho: ArgentinaBrasil—Uruguay (Buenos Aires, 1945); Fernando O. Assunçao, El gaucho—su espacio y su tiempo (Montevideo, 1969); and Rodolfo González Rissotto and Susana Rodríguez Varese de Gonzalez, “Contribución al estudio de la infuencia guaraní en la formación de la sociedad uruguaya,” Revista Histórica, 54 (Apr. 1982), 199–316.


By 1886, Brazilians owned over half the land in all of Uruguay’s departamentos bordering on Brazil. See “Bienes declarados,” Anuario estadístico de la República Oriental del Uruguay, 1886, pp. 356–373, and José Pedro Rona, “La frontera lingüística entre el portugués y el español en el norte del Uruguay,” Veritas (Porto Alegre), 8 (1963).


Both Serafim da Silva Tavares and Hilário Amaro da Silveira had acquired their disputed lands in Uruguay during its annexation as the Cisplatine Province of Brazil (1820-28): “Don José Silveira y Don Serafín da Silva Tavares sobre obra neuva,” 1843/12, and “Declaraciones,” 1849/10, AGN, Sección Judicial, Juzgado Letrado de Cerro Largo. The “Relatónos do Presidente da Província in Rio Grande do Sul are full of complaints about the situation of Brazilians in Uruguay. For example, see those of José de Souza Soares de Andrea, Mar. 6, 1850, and João Lins Vieira Cansanção de Sinumbu, June 30, 1855, AHRGS. For the view from the other side, see the reports of the Jefatura Política de Tacuarembó June-July 1865, AGN.


“Libertad de la parda Brígida Maria da Silveira, 1847/8, and “Sumario contra Don Manuel Amaro da Silveira y el Sub—Receptor de San Servando por extracción de ganado,” 1843/1, AGN, Sección Judicial, Juzgado Letrado de Cerro Largo. This court’s defensor de esclavos was particularly zealous in the year of abolition. Eventually, however, Brazilian estancieiros in Uruguay found a modus vivendi in long indentured work contracts: "Relación de las personas de color que, en calidad de peones, han sido introducidos del Brasil y cuyos contratos han sido presentados a esta jefatura,” Memoria de la Jefatura Política y de Policía del Departamento de Cerro Largo correspondiente a los años de1876-77-78 (Montevideo, 1879).


Barrán and Nahum believe that the Uruguayan frontier was essentially "closed” to immigration after 1870. See Historia rural del Uruguay moderno, I, passim. An examination of the parish register in a northern Uruguayan town corroborates their judgment. Of the spouses whose origins could be identified,

59 percent were Brazilian in 1837-40

25 percent were Brazilian in 1850

31 percent were Brazilian in 1860

19 percent were Brazilian in the first half of 1880.

Source: Libros de Matrimonios, Iglesia Catedral, Melo, Uruguay.

In 1890, a census of that part of Uruguay indicated that only 15 percent of the population was Brazilian: “Censo del Departamento de Cerro Largo,” Anuario estadístico de la República Oriental del Uruguay, 1889 (sic), 718.


Rio Grandense estancieiros were much more likely to live on their properties than were those of Buenos Aires (Richard W. Slatta, “Gaúcho and Gaucho: Comparative Socioeconomic and Demographic Change in Rio Grande do Sul and Buenos Aires Province, 1869-1920,” Estudos Ibero-americanos, 6 [1980], 191-202). Very few borderland landowners belonged to the cosmopolitan group described by Jeffrey D. Needell, A Tropical Belle Epoque: Elite Culture and Society in Turn-of-the-Century Rio de Janeiro (Cambridge, 1987), 117-124.


When asked to designate the origins of each inherited title, the registrants responded as shown in Table D.

ParishesHusband inheritedWife inherited
Arroio Grande 69 45 
Herval 78 37 
São Gabriel 153 42 
Uruguaiana 63 42 
ParishesHusband inheritedWife inherited
Arroio Grande 69 45 
Herval 78 37 
São Gabriel 153 42 
Uruguaiana 63 42 

Source: Registros Paroquiais, APRGS, Seção Extra Judiciária.

In only a handful of cases did families retain title to land inherited by both husband and wife. In this society, the limited supply of land passed mostly through the male line. Metcalf, “Fathers and Sons,” traces a contrary pattern in colonial São Paulo, where sons left for the frontier and land passed mostly through the female line.


The da Costa Pereira family (neighbors and in-laws of the Amaro da Silveiras) provides an example. A genealogist recorded 103 marriages among the nineteenth-century descendants of the patriarch Antonio da Costa Pereira, with 30 of them celebrated between cousins, uncle and niece, or nephew and aunt. Carlos Rheinghantz, “Povoamento do Rio Grande de São Pedro: a contribuiçã) da Colônia do Sacramento,” in Instituto Histórico-Geográfico Brasileiro, Anais do Simpósio Comemorativo do Bicentenário da Restauração do Rio Grande (1776-1976), 4 vols. (Rio de Janeiro, 1979), II, 11-527. Such endogamous tendencies can be traced back to the early settlement of Brazil and to Portugal. See Charles R. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415-1825 (London, 1969), 310.


João Simões Lopes Neto, Cancioneiro guasca (Rio de Janeiro, 1960), 104.


“Poesia popular rio-grandense,” Anuário do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (1892), 146.


Medeiros, História do Herval, 300-303.


Registro Paroquial do Herval, APRGS, Seção Extra Judiciária.


Mario Teixeira de Carvalho, Nobiliário sul-riograndense (Porto Alegre, 1937), 257. On the war, see Leitman, Raízes socio-econômicas da Guerra dos Farrapos.


“Inventário do Visconde do Serro Alegre,” APRGS, Bagé 1872, Cartório Civel e Crime, 2-62-42.


Medeiros, História da Herval, 332-339.


The Municípios of the old Rio Grande Frontier approximately doubled in population between the national censuses of 1872 and 1900 (Fundação de Economia e Estatística, Censos do RS: 1803-1950, 81-83, 94).


“Morreu de fome,” Cruzeiro do Sul (Bagé), June 8, 1884; “D. Pedrito,” Cruzeiro do Sul, May 25, 1884; “Furto de gado,” União Liberal (Bagé), Oct. 27, 1886.


Twenty cases of animal theft were examined in the Cartórios do Crime of Bagé 1888-91 (4306, 4310, 4317, 4338, 4344, 4360, 4362, 4363, 4381, 4383, 4400), Jaguarão 1889-91 (2733, 2744, 2747, 2757A, 2762, 2768), and Herval 1889-90 (532, 536, 542), APRGS. On banditry, see sixteen reports in Bagé’s Cruzeiro do Sul, Jan.-Aug. 1884.


The simultaneous accumulation of a similar class of marginal rural poor across the border in Uruguay has been documented by Barrán and Nahum, Historia social de las revoluciones de 1897 y1904, 21-47.


In 1800–28, 36 of 100 inventories showed animals but no land; in 1887–92, 4 of 119 inventories showed animals but no land (Inventory survey, APRGS). There were still many agregados, but few now owned enough to warrant an inventory.


APRGS: “Justiça—Réu ausente,” Herval 1887, Cartório do Crime, 524; “Justiça—Réu ausente,” Herval 1890, Cartório do Crime, 40; “Justiça—Réus, Mateus Oliveira e Manuel G. Nunes,” Herval 1892, Cartório do Crime, 553.


Inventory survey, APRGS.


Records of the Cartórios do Crime, Herval 1886/518 and Jaguarão 1888/2736, APRGS.


“Suicídio,” Jornal do Commércio, Apr. 2, 1892.


During the original November 1891 move against Castilhos, four-fifths of the insurgent horsemen came from the study area (Jornal do Commércio, Nov. 17 and 20, 1891). At the opposition Congresso de Bagé over half of the representatives hailed from this one corner of the state (ibid., Apr. 2, 1892). For background on the war (in addition to Love, Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism), see Sérgio da Costa Franco, Júlio de Castilhos e sua época (Porto Alegre, 1966) and “O sentido histórico da Revolução de 1893,” in vol. V of Fundamentos da cultura rio-grandense (Porto Alegre, 1954-); and Sílvio Rogério Duncan Baretta, “Political Violence and Regime Change: A Study of the 1893 Civil War in Southern Brazil ” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1985).


Franco, “O sentido histórico da Revolução de 1893,” 193.


Love provides a good description in English (based mostly on Republican sources) in Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism, 57-75. For examples of contemporaneous accounts on either side, see (1) the Republican newspaper AFederação (Porto Alegre) and Euclides B. de Moura, O vandalismo no Rio Grande do Sul (Pelotas, 1892); and (2) the opposition newspaper in exile, O Canabarro (Rivera, Uruguay), and Angelo Dourado, Os voluntários do martyrio: factos e epizodios da guerra civil (Pelotas, 1896).


Baretta, “Political Violence and Regime Change,” 8. Pará’s Cabanagem of the 1830s is the only competitor for this dubious distinction.


Barrán and Nahum, Historia social de las revoluciones de 1897 y 1904. For relatively nonpartisan sources on political violence in Rio Grande do Sul, see numerous reports in OJornal do Commércio (Rio de Janeiro) and in El Deber Cívico (Melo, Uruguay); Germano Hasslocher, Averdade sobre a revolugão (Porto Alegre, 1894); Epaminondas Villalba, Arevolugão federalista no Rio Grande do Sul (documentos e comentários) (Rio de Janeiro, 1897); and Wenceslau Escobar, Apontamentos para a história da revolugão Rio-grandense de 1893, reprint ed. (Brasilia, 1983).


Proclamação do general Joca Tavares distribuida pela campanha a 5 de fevereiro de 1893,” reproduced as document 47 in the appendix of Villalba, A revolugão federalista.


Ladislau Amaro da Silveira’s proclamation, Feb. 21, 1893, transcribed in Campos Neto, Ladislau Amaro da Silveira, an unpublished manuscript in the private collection of Júlio Petersen of Porto Alegre. Partisan rhetoric of this kind offers unexploited interpretive possibilities for many currently enigmatic nineteenth-century conflicts.


O Cruzeiro do Sul, Jan. 29, 1885.