The complaints, civil disobedience, rhetoric, and humor generated by nearly a century of army recruitment reforms in Brazil illuminate a conflictual transition in conceptions of honor, masculinity, penology, citizenship, national identity, and the proper limits of public power. This transition accelerated in the 1910s when an influential group of educated Brazilians reached a consensus that military conscription would help resolve a variety of threats to national strength and unity, ranging from regionalism to poor hygiene, racial “degeneration,” and national defense. Meanwhile, the government and pro-conscription civic organizations had to convince the “respectable” poor that army enlisted service was honorable. Efforts to alter public perceptions of “honorable” manhood proved to be essential to execute a draft and other “progressive” reforms.1

Before Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, military impressment reinforced sharp distinctions between law-abiding and criminal, legitimate and illegitimate, free and slave, the “honorable” and the “dishonorable” poor, respectable and disreputable manhood. As an 1878 editorial fumed, “What person considered decent would dare walk through the streets, arm in arm with a private?”2 The army dragooned approximately half its troops, many of them “criminals” summarily remanded by local authorities. Most volunteers signed on to escape hunger, unemployment, homelessness, or even slavery. The bulk of enlisted men came from the ranks of the desprotegidos (unprotected ones), males who did not have a powerful patron, a skilled occupation, a national guard post, a certifiable marriage, or the capital to exempt themselves.

Vulnerability to recruitment separated the “recruitable,” unprotected poor from the “honorable” poor, but conscription threatened to confuse these distinctions and inspired passionate resistance. Though a national draft lottery first became law in 1874, reformers succeeded in executing it only in 1916, a generation after slavery’s abolition. But only with the Brazilian army’s triumph in Italy during World War II did the “manliness” and “respectability” of enlisted service receive its highest confirmation.

Roberto da Matta’s examination of the conceptual and linguistic realms defined by “the house and the street” illuminates the geography of honor. As he has observed, Brazilians commonly associate the house with honor, family, order, marriage, safety, and private power, while the street connotes disgrace, chaos, illegitimacy, danger, vagrancy, and vulnerability to the vagaries of impersonal public authority.3 Though ambiguities exist in the two conceptions, an association with the street suggests a threat to family honor, the cornerstone of order in the letter and philosophy of Brazilian law. Honor demands that male household members defend their kin, their dependents, and themselves from the sexual aggressions of other males. The home’s violation undermines honor because it compromises a household head’s authority, exposing his dependents to real or putative sexual aggressions.

Brazilian law historically has restricted daytime searches of homes; it has also prohibited officials and strangers from entering them at night, except when natural disasters threatened, crimes were in progress, or cries of help came from within. Disputes over the limits of private and state power have often been expressed in terms of the house and street.4 Although prosperous Brazilians could reasonably expect authorities to respect their home’s inviolability, however, the poor could not. Even so, many among the poor subscribed to this principle and vociferously protested when authorities trespassed against it.

In nineteenth-century Brazil, the very term that lumped together non-commissioned officers and common enlisted men, praça, derived from the Portuguese word for public square.5 It was no coincidence that soldiers were linguistically located in the “dishonorable” and “disorderly” world of the street. In colonial times, the term soldado (private) was a frequent euphemism for an exiled convict from abroad, or simply an unmarried man.6 This usage acknowledged the traditional exemption from military service that married men enjoyed, as well as the use of penal exiles to fill colonial regiments.7 Marriage remained an important badge of status in postindependence Brazil; untitled Brazilians commonly identified themselves first as casados (married men) to establish their status as respectable members of a community.8 Those who violated their marriage vows or trifled with female virginity threatened this basic social bond and status touchstone. As punishment, officials often summarily remanded vagrants, deflowerers, and men who abandoned their wives to serve as praças.9

Thus if the house represented one end of a spectrum of social values, the barracks stood at the opposite end. The barracks was a suspect social space, a place for orphans, seducers, vagrants, ex-slaves, “perverts,” and thieves, but not the “men or sons of families.”

In some ways, the barracks functioned as the male equivalent of the bordello. Both were social spaces that attempted to isolate “dangerous” loners from “honorable” households. In the barracks, authorities tried to congregate and supervise men who were considered a threat to the home’s sanctity. The army also applied humiliating physical punishments to disobedient soldiers, a practice that kept praças uncomfortably close to the “dishonorable” status of slaves. Unlike private homes, moreover, the barracks segregated mostly unmarried men “promiscuously” into crowded common dwellings, just like the slave quarters on plantations. Like slaves, praças needed their superior’s consent to maintain a private home. As General Dermeval Peixoto noted,

To live off base was the desire of every soldier, old or new; this meant receiving in cash the value of one’s room and board . . . married privates and NCOs . . . and some reenlisting soldiers with good comportment enjoyed this privilege. The clause “return to the barracks” always accompanied any punishment of those who lived off base.10

The barracks also bore the stigma of depravity. An 1872 medical thesis observed,

In the military . . . sodomy has developed to such an extent that rare are those who do not practice it . . . in the military and boarding schools there reigns the authority of a superior . . . who does not solicit but orders. . . . Rare is the officer who does not have in his company one or two camaradas [privates designated as personal attendants] who provide these dishonest services.11

Another doctor reported that in the 1890s, health authorities had publicly expressed alarm at the numerous cases of anal venereal sores among boys (mostly orphans) who served as military apprentices. He noted that during the empire, the “degrading vice of sodomy” was common in the military, and he claimed that by tolerating the increasing feminine prostitution around bases, enlightened republican authorities had almost eliminated pederasty in the ranks.12 These scandalous observations indicate how many people felt that the barracks’ authoritarian character and sexual segregation encouraged “perversion,” subjecting some soldiers to humiliating sexual violation.13

To implement conscription, therefore, the predominant perceptions of soldiering had to be modified so that enlisted service could be seen as a “manly” duty rather than an emasculating punishment. Authorities had to move the barracks, figuratively and literally, away from the street and toward the house. The ideology of the house remained a central, though squeaky and rusted, hinge that tenaciously resisted efforts to swing open the door of the private realm to universal male conscription and other reforms.

The predominant view that praça rank implied disgrace did not mean, however, that all Brazilians viewed soldiering this way. Even politicians took pains to recognize the law-abiding soldiers who resented serving with “degenerate” inductees.14 A variety of competing conceptions of proper manhood prevailed in different socioeconomic groups or geographic regions. Certainly most career praças, their families, and friends had a distinct perspective. Some could claim to have risked all to defend national honor; many probably considered themselves morally superior to wealthier civilians who used their influence to avoid service and protect their clients. Praças could identify with the fashionable European ideology of the “nation in arms,” which considered the military a microcosm of a nation and the vessel of masculine honor.15 This was a view that conscription advocates hoped a draft would strengthen.

An analysis of Brazil’s response to the institution of conscription thus has broad implications for the study of patriarchy and state building. Since the mid-1800s, conscription and attendant military reforms have been perhaps the most significant, consistent, and ubiquitous institutional reform present in an international restructuring of gender, family, and state roles.16 Most countries around the world adopted (at least temporarily) a Prussian-inspired form of conscription. Like military reformism, da Matta’s codification of social space itself comes from a cultural and anthropological legacy in the study of honor that spans the Atlantic. These influences make the under-studied topic of Brazilian conscription particularly important for comparative history.17 Conscription, moreover, provides a means of moving beyond the ideologies of honor, race, and nation to consider how states implemented concrete institutional policies aimed at regenerating their countries through their masculine youth.

The Crisis of Traditional Recruitment and the House

As it was traditionally practiced, impressment sought to protect families by targeting the refractory elements of society; but in times of war, it often violated that norm. This was particularly true during the Paraguayan War (1864-70). For this lengthy campaign, Brazil mobilized some 110,000 troops, at least four times the number it had raised in any previous war. Not surprisingly, local and imperial officials began to complain bitterly of recruitment abuses. Agents (paid on a per head basis) and officials had little incentive (other than extortion) to verify claims of legal exemption. Never before had the state entered so pervasively into the private realm of the house.

Those who professed moral outrage about wartime impressment inevitably pointed out how it violated the home’s sanctity. One senator representing Ceará recounted numerous instances in which recruitment agents had dragooned “men of family.” In Sobral, a prosperous town in Ceará, a local priest reported that a gang of soldiers had lain in wait for two couples being married. Marriage legally exempted men from recruitment, but the press-gang immediately nabbed one of the grooms who was bold enough to leave the church. The priest reported that the “poor bride [was left] exposed in the street between her bridesmaids.”18 Impressment clearly had violated family honor because it bereaved a virgin of her natural male protector and left her alone in a public place.

The same senator railed against agents who recruited “fathers” who were lavradores (stock raisers who owned or leased plots of land). These “honorable” men were not allowed to ride their horses but forced to march as recruits under armed escort and in fetters. By recruiting propertied married men, forcing them to walk, and placing them in manacles, recruiters blurred the lines of stratification between the “honorable” poor and slaves and criminals. “In every locality [of Ceará],” the senator concluded, “there occurred . . . arbitrary imprisonments, illegal searches of homes,. . . beatings, injuries, and homicides. The legal authorities disappeared, leaving only one ruling authority, called the recruiter.” Other senators chimed in, averring that similar abuses had occurred in provinces across Brazil.19

Alongside these “honorable” inductees, agents also pressed men from among the most “disreputable” elements of society. Local and imperial authorities manumitted hundreds of slaves and pressed scores of convicts to serve as soldiers at the front; wartime impressment seemed a cheaper and more severe punishment than a prison stint.

An example is the case of the manumitted slave Braselino Antônio Duterval Setubal. Braselino reportedly molested children, infecting a number of young boys with syphilis. When a local household head complained that Braselino had infected a boy under his protection, the police chief summarily remanded Braselino to Rio de Janeiro as a recruit in 1867. The chief’s confidential letter to the War Ministry warned of possible legal efforts to retrieve Braselino. Perhaps Braselino had posed as a freeman, and his owner was litigating for his return; or Braselino may have had a legal exemption as a freeman that his patron could document. In any case, the police chief asked the War Ministry to ignore such efforts, arguing that as a praça Braselino would “not only have his bad habits corrected, but [his recruitment] would also serve as an exemplary punishment for his bad behavior.” It would be hard to invent a more direct and concise association of army service, criminal punishment, and correctional practices. The adjutant general’s office replied that Braselino would be sent to Paraguay the next day.20 Neither the police nor the War Ministry expressed concern about whether this alleged syphilitic molester would make a good soldier or pose a hazard to other troops or their families.

The “dishonorable” origins of many troops merely reconfirmed the common perception that the barracks were receptacles suitable only for men who threatened the family. By forcing “men of family” into an institution along with criminals, ex-slaves, and social reprobates, wartime recruitment threatened fundamental principles of public order and eroded cherished thresholds of status.

The inefficiency of wartime impressment and the widespread disruptions it caused led to postwar debates on how best to revamp recruitment. Army officers and chiefs of the incumbent Conservative Party backed a Prussian-inspired national conscription lottery and reserve system. Liberals opposed this plan in favor of a fully volunteer army. Two central themes in the debate were the proper boundaries of public power and the threat army service posed to the family.

Conservative legislators argued that conscription would abolish abusive impressment, improve the quality of inductees, and distribute recruitment more equally among and within provinces. It would establish a modern reserve system, providing a steady supply of new recruits at regular intervals to facilitate training and discipline. Finally, the draft would make army service a respectable duty, bolstering an inductee’s personal honor through his corporate association with national honor.21

Joaquim Nabuco, the fiery Liberal abolitionist, feared that the draft would corrupt honest workers by introducing them to the seamy world of the barracks. He asserted that veterans, “accustomed to life in the barracks, do not return to work or to the countryside, but stay in the cities, becoming not producers but consumers. . . . The senate knows that a recruitment law with poorly considered dispositions can distort the vocations, customs, and habits of a people.”22 Nabuco viewed the barracks as a veritable school of delinquency that could corrupt the values of “honorable” laborers. The Viscount de Souza concurred: “After receiving his discharge, the soldier is unsuited for other vocations.”23 Pernambuco’s police chief lamented “the existence in parts of Recife of tenements, truly caverns frequented by a population of drunken nomads, prostitutes, vagabonds, and wrongdoers; . . . army veterans and ex-convicts from every province return from Fernando de Noronha’s penal colony and stay in this city.”24

Other Liberal leaders went further, insisting that conscription undermined family formation and stymied population growth. They cited France as an example of a nation that practiced conscription and pointed out that French procreation had slowed considerably.25 Though Liberals had also abused impressment for political advantage, they argued that the cure was worse. Conscription would disrupt economic development and public morality.

In response, Conservative war minister João José de Oliveira Junqueira feebly attempted to defend conscription and the army’s honor. “I will not allow you to say that the sons of families among us will be perverted by becoming part of the army, [an institution] which should always be a stimulus to morality and the image of a society.”26 Even though the war minister was quick to champion the army as a moralizing, disciplinary institution, he qualified that defense to justify the need to reform recruitment.

To make enlisted service more palatable to the “honorable” poor, the army abolished corporal punishment and camarada duty in 1874. But the law’s final text did not recognize the traditional exemption for married men, though it did protect some —men who lived with, fed, and supported an “honest” sister, single or widowed; an only son who lived with his mother, single or widowed, or a decrepit father; and widowers raising a legitimate or natural child.27 The implementing legislation of 1875 specified that the marriage and other exemptions that had applied to military service would be honored only for the first year of the draft.28 An imperial decision confirmed that “married citizens should not be included in the first draft, except those who volunteer or those legally separated from their wives and who do not provide [their spouses] with protection.”29 Thus, although the law did protect families whose honor and livelihood hinged on a single adult male, it still threatened two-parent household economies and their “honorable” status after the first draft of 1875.

The perception that military service degraded the status of “sons of families” (a code word for “honorable” young men) clearly could not be changed by decree or overnight. The protests that thwarted the draft’s implementation demonstrated how seriously the “honorable” poor viewed this threat. In late November 1874, such protests figured in several weeks of disturbances that swept the interior of Pernambuco and Paraíba. Citizens smashed newly standardized metric scales, looted and damaged property, and destroyed municipal records. Authorities attributed the Quebra-Quilos (kilo-breaking) Revolt to public ire over several new reforms: the adoption of the metric system, new taxes, a religious dispute between the emperor and the Vatican, and the new Recruitment Law. Pernambuco’s governor himself linked anxieties over recruitment to the Quebra-Quilos Revolt.30 The revolt and subsequent draft enrollment riots reveal the contradictions posed by attempts to enforce the Recruitment Law.

As the furor of the Quebra-Quilos Revolt calmed, the army, the national guard, and the police moved in. The forces of order created further disturbances as they pressed those identified as the revolt’s instigators. Prosperous landowners and priests accused of fomenting the protest were eventually pardoned, but numerous poor “fathers of family” were caught up in punitive impressment dragnets. In April 1875, Paraíba’s governor requested the discharge of 16 married men dragooned in the Vila de Ingá. The parish priest forwarded their marriage certificates, and after months of languishing in stockades as far south as Rio de Janeiro, the inductees were released.31 Many others who could not document an exemption were probably not so lucky.

One senator lambasted the “overzealous” recruitment that followed the revolt. “The madness of the Quebra-Quilos Revolt did not produce robberies, deaths, nor [did it] disrespect the propriety of the home and family. Disgracefully, the same cannot be said of government troops. Recruitment is performed in a deranged manner: it does not seem an act of administration but of madness, because it affects fathers and men of work.”32 According to this senator, the Quebra-Quilos protesters had respected honor and the sanctity of homes, whereas imperial troops and provincial police had not.

Efforts to implement the 1874 Recruitment Law continued, however, and many of the free poor focused on undermining draft registration. The more common strategy was simply not to enroll; but in scattered locations in ten different provinces, groups of outraged citizens stormed parish draft boards and destroyed registration records. In most instances, bands of women conducted or played prominent roles in these raids. As one authority in Ceará reported,

Some women, mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters terrified by the new Recruitment Law whose rigorous design seemed excessive . . . naturally protective of those connected to them by the ties of family and consensual union, invaded enrollment board meetings in Tamboril, União, Santa Quiteira, and Acarape . . . they ripped apart [enrollment] records . . . retreating afterward to their houses without committing other acts of violence. . . . This act, practiced by persons of a sex which in all ways exceeds that of men in dedication and tolerance, beyond being singularly exceptional, did not constitute more than an exaggerated demonstration of family affection, provoked by fears and fed by ignorance.. . . The incidents do not deserve more than passing mention.33

This chauvinistic report reveals why women were particularly effective draft resistance operatives. Officials were unwilling to admit that these female acts of vandalism posed a serious threat to public order. What honorable man would use force on groups of “women of family,” whose physical and rational faculties were assumed to be far inferior to those of men? That these women acted in public in large numbers, moreover, may have protected them from the potential “dishonor” of taking to the streets and challenging authorities individually. Sensible authorities, aware that such acts could unleash popular fury, avoided taking strongarm actions against female protesters.34

According to this report, women’s gender predisposed them to an “exaggerated” but admirable preoccupation with family welfare. The women’s actions at least partly refute the idea that the public sphere was exclusively male, and they indicate that competing conceptions of womanhood were just as prevalent as conceptions of manhood. Certainly women throughout Latin America often participated vigorously in public protests. In this case, the protesters feared that the draft would split up their families. Drafting a son, brother, or father into a low-paying, minimum six-year service contract posed severe hardship for a modest household by removing one of its breadwinners. Family members might even be forced to uproot themselves from established networks of mutual communal support to accompany draftees to garrison towns.35 Honor and economic security were closely related, especially for poor families.36 The poor also sensed, probably correctly, that moral arguments would sway their social superiors more effectively than complaints about economic privation.

For Ceará officials, the women’s vandalism was nothing more than misguided virtue, which was better left unpunished. Clearly, though, this analysis was self-serving. Local authorities were probably glad for any excuse to suspend attempts to implement a disruptive, unpopular measure. The incident also illustrates the ambiguities that could transform house and street. By taking to public squares to defend their homes and families against the draft, these women domesticated the street and successfully claimed it as an appropriate sphere for feminine militancy. Even the authorities recognized the etiquette of this protest. By acting to protect their men, the women reversed stereotypical gender roles. In some parishes, male protesters, by contrast, suffered injury, punitive impressment, or death. A district judge in Cachoeira, Bahia, granted three inductees writs of habeas corpus in 1875, but the provincial government did not remit them because “they had already been sworn in for active service, and . . . had cooperated with disturbances . . . on the occasion of draft enrollment.”37 Female protesters certainly took risks, but they could not be dragooned.

Popular protests and refusal to cooperate undermined efforts to implement conscription. Meanwhile, Conservative and Liberal governments continued to use impressment. The 1889 army coup that promulgated the Brazilian republic, however, revived efforts to implement the Recruitment Law.

Republican Reforms and the Barracks

The military-dominated republican government abolished impressment and incorporated the 1874 Recruitment Law into the 1891 Constitution. Even so, the federal government could not implement the law, despite continuing draft enrollment efforts, debates, and decrees. The poor, particularly organized labor, protested efforts to institute conscription and resented the government’s revival of national guard duty.

An 1873 reform had essentially deactivated the national guard, which had played an important role in policing and conducting impressment. Guard posts became a means of securing exemption from army recruitment that required little or no active service. Thus the guard’s rolls swelled during the late empire and early republic. In turn, more men of influence sought guard officerships so that they could nominate their clients to guard posts, protecting them from recruitment. This arrangement formed the cornerstone of the coronel (colonel) system, so termed because of the guard rank commonly held by local political bosses. This was the basic unit of political organization in late imperial Brazil, and its influence strengthened under the federalist republic. In coronelismo, a boss was granted virtual carte blanche over local affairs as long as he produced a large majority of votes from his district for the dominant state political party. Because there was no secret vote, coronéis could threaten to press and exile poor men who bucked their authority at the ballot box.38 The coronéis feared that a strong federal army would impinge on their local autonomy; therefore most of them opposed conscription.

In 1890, when the fledgling republican government required the national guard in Rio de Janeiro to perform weekend duties, the protected poor protested. The labor newspaper O Echo Popular stressed repeatedly that guard duty deprived workers of their family and home life.

We are certain that our brother workers and the proletarian classes that are going to be sacrificed in a holocaust for the vanity of . . . ridiculous officers, will not have difficulty comprehending the abyss that awaits them. . .. How many tears will their mothers and wives have to shed every time that despotism carries men to jail and from there to the army’s ranks because they were absent [from their guard duty] on the days consecrated for rest?39

Regular army service was a dismal punishment for those who failed to perform their guard duty. Labor’s heated resentment toward guard service paled in comparison to its fears of joining the regular army.

Over the course of the 1890s, this fear became a reality for many workers as a series of regional rebellions moved the government to resort to impressment to swell army ranks. In 1896, one senator’s protests against impressment were clearly articulated in the language of the house and street: “I am profoundly bitter at the insult the population of my state received from the past government, sending ... a warship to recruit poor Maranhenses, in flagrant violation of the law, offending the propriety of families, invading homes in the dead of night.”40 For this senator, recruiters forcing their way into homes, especially under cover of darkness, was an intolerable breach of civilized behavior.

Even married praças, some of whom were permitted to live off base, protested similar violations. In 1900, Sergeant Ernesto Carlos Schmidt’s written defense explained why he had refused to open his door to the officer of the rounds. “The criminal procedural code in Articles 189 to 202 determines when and how domiciles may be searched, making it very clear the prohibition of searching a home at night.”41 Schmidt claimed the same legal rights that any civilian would. Also like respectable civilians, other praças rationalized the murder of adulterous wives or lovers, along with the women’s “seducers.” In their view, they had the same “sacred right” to defend home and honor as civilians did.42 In 1916, new regulations for conscripts included stricter rules for living off base.43 Reformers wanted to curb off-base living because it was “one of the principal problems that undermines discipline and principally instruction.”44

Conscription advocates argued that a national draft would end impressment abuses, but their opponents claimed that conscription would merely give state officials the legal excuse to perpetrate violations of privacy. Slowly, however, perceptions of the proper limits of public power began to change at the turn of the century. New support for this process came from advocates for a seemingly unrelated set of reforms: obligatory public health measures—even though these measures also galvanized stiff opposition.

Labor unions, Jacobinos (radical republicans), orthodox positivists, monarchist elements, and even influential mainstream politicians like Senators José Gomes Pinheiro Machado and Rui Barbosa de Oliveira joined forces to oppose both the 1904 Vaccine Law and the 1908 Obligatory Military Service Law. Public hygiene measures such as the Vaccine Law appeared poised to empower officials to regulate new aspects of private life, space, and the body.

José Murilho de Carvalho convincingly argues that workers’ most inflammatory objections to the 1904 Vaccine Law were those that emphasized the violation of the spatial limits of public power.45 Opponents of the vaccine law pointed out that it undermined the government’s efforts to bolster poor families’ honor.

Republican reformers, influenced by Comtean positivism, had taken special care to enhance the protection of feminine honor among the poor, giving higher judicial priority to enforcement of defloramento (deflowering) laws. Female “victims” or, more commonly, their male protectors (often employers or relatives) brought an increasing number of suits against men accused of seducing (not raping) “honest” virgins aged 16 to 21 with false marriage promises. If convicted, the seducer had to marry his victim or serve a jail term —a sentence that in the past commonly had been commuted to army service. Seduction laws expressed concern for securing public order and morals by stricter regulation of the lower classes’ bodies and sexuality.46 Reformers hoped to stimulate the formation of more stable working-class families, reducing illegitimate birthrates, mendicancy, and crime among the very population that supplied the army with much of its manpower.

Positivist intellectuals lent “scientific” legitimacy to the venerable concept of the home’s inviolability. The vice director of Brazil’s orthodox Positivist church, Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, produced various tracts criticizing obligatory hygiene, military service, and public education legislation. He argued that the “incorporation of the proletariat into modern society means reorganizing the proletarian family, to the end that wives, the elderly, and the young are sustained by the mass of healthy men. Then hospitals, asylums, kindergartens, and primary schools will disappear because the happiness of the proletarian home will extinguish luxury, misery, prostitution, alcoholism, and disease.”47 By strengthening the working-class family and protecting its honor, Teixeira Mendes believed, the state would no longer have to construct many costly modern institutions.

To many, the Vaccine and Recruitment laws eroded the very family values that the deflowering laws were intended to strengthen. Unlike previous public health laws that had already condemned a great deal of Rio’s working-class housing, the Vaccine Law was thought to give male officials the right to enter private homes and handle females. Labor leader Vicente de Souza gave voice to this fear in a street rally just before the Vaccine Revolt erupted on November 10, 1904. Dubbing the measure the “Violation of the Home Law,” de Souza declared that when the head of a household returned home from work, he could not “affirm that the honor of his family was unblemished because a stranger had legally penetrated his home . . . and brutalized his daughters’ and wife’s bodies [with injections].” He added, “The immoral woman gives herself to whoever wants her, but the virgin, the wife, and the daughter will have to bare their arms and shoulders to vaccine agents.”48 Teixeira Mendes believed that the Vaccine Law respected neither “propriety nor feminine delicacy! . . . Positivist science and morality are decidedly against obligatory vaccination.”49 In Congress, the physician Mayor Cândido Barata Ribeiro declared that the Vaccine Law revoked the citizen’s “guarantee of the home and the tranquility of his family.”50

The leaders of the November 10 protest used the rhetoric of honor and house to incite a crowd of about five thousand. The rally boiled over into several days of citywide rioting. The uproar succeeded in temporarily suspending the obligatory vaccinations, but eventually the public came to appreciate the perceptible improvements brought about by the vaccine and other government health measures. Government prophylactic actions led to rapid declines in deaths from yellow fever, smallpox, and other illnesses in urban Brazil, particularly Rio de Janeiro. These palpable gains smoothed the way for future obligatory government health policies that breached the boundaries of the house.

Although conscription’s opponents continued to use the ideology of the house strategically to shock middle- and upper-class sensibilities and win sympathy for their cause, draft reformers countered by swaddling conscription in the language of public hygiene to justify its implementation. In doing so, they swiped elements of their opponents’ most persuasive rhetoric in terms of honor.

The 1908 Obligatory Military Service Law

Army reformers rejoiced when the Brazilian congress debated conscription anew in 1906, but labor leaders and the poor maintained a dismal view of a peacetime draft. Even when the congress eventually passed the 1908 Obligatory Military Service Law, officials still had trouble implementing it.51 Labor organizations and antimilitarist politicians urged the populace not to cooperate with compulsory draft registration. Predictably, most people did not. Without a representative bank of names, the government found it impossible to conduct a credible lottery.

The penny press gives perhaps the most vivid insight into popular attitudes toward conscription. Penny-print capitalist Leandro Gomes de Barros pioneered cordel (handbill) literature. Among his earliest handbills is the 1906 “O sorteio” (Draft Lottery), which lampoons conscription. Leandro’s confidence that his lyrical tirade would find a sympathetic audience and turn a profit is an indication of the continuing popular repugnance toward army service. The pamphlet plays relentlessly on the idea that the lottery will recruit everyone—the insane, the limbless, the blind, the retarded, the elderly, priests; even the dead will be called up. Only those who hold the title doutor (privileged graduates of law or medical faculties) will be spared. When asked why he would recruit unfit troops, a fictional delegate answers, “If it falls in the net, I call it a fish, and what comes out [of the net] goes in the cake.”52

Clearly, Gomes humorously piqued the popular fear of the indiscriminate mixing of social strata, and therein lies the comic relief. Comedy is most often based on incongruous situations where social status is confused or reversed. Like Carnival, the annual pre-Lenten celebration in which the poor often masqueraded as the rich or the famous, the draft lottery would bring about a confusion of social status. Instead of the varied individuality of Carnival, however, the draft, more like an anti-Carnival, would obscure status through impersonal, drab uniformity.53 Gomes’ black humor tweaked the anxieties of “honorable” citizens who feared that conscription threatened their respectability. His verse also addressed how the law threatened masculine honor.

Zé Churumella has already declared:
If the government drafts me,
I will grab my wife,
Put her in horse fetters and kill her,
I will be free from the draft,
And instead will die in jail.54

The hyperbole here suggests that defending honor, even if it means death in jail, is preferable to the travails of barracks life. The humor lies in the moral dilemma. Beyond being a social disgrace, the draft threatens to separate man and wife; but honor demands that a man protect his wife. By killing his wife, Zé at least gains the peace of mind that his honor will remain intact. Otherwise, why not commit some other horrid crime to exempt himself?

The association between being drafted and being cuckolded was common to the bawdy humor surrounding the 1908 Obligatory Military Service Law. One wit in a Ceará newspaper told the story of a haughty, rich, handsome young man who had never married his fiancée because he was too busy running a fashionable clothing shop. When drafted, he hired a doctor to arrange an illness for him. Army physicians, however, judged him to be fit. The young man had such bad luck that he drew service in a battalion stationed in Acre on Brazil’s insalubrious western frontier. He trusted his business partner to protect his shop and his fiancée. When he returned four years later, both were gone.55 The draft clearly threatened the ability to defend honor and livelihood.

Readers laughed at these exaggerations, but the black humor tapped into deep-rooted fears. Instead of viewing military service as the fulfillment of manly virility and virtues, many Brazilian men believed that conscription threatened their manhood.

Meanwhile, however, changes were occurring to mollify public fears. From 1889 to 1908, minimum praça service contracts gradually dropped from six to two years. Shorter contracts made military service seem less of a burden to poor men and their families. When conscription was finally implemented in 1916, minimum service contracts for infantry were reduced to one year. New concerns with training, housing, diet, and field exercises began to make a difference in army discipline and performance. Army desertion and crime rates began, however slightly, to decline. Less burdened by the bureaucratic work of punishment, officers focused more energy on training.56

The 1908 reform gave new emphasis to acquiring quality recruits. No exemptions were permitted for marriage, and occupational exemptions were greatly reduced. The law, however, did exempt those condemned to a prison sentence of two years or more, those who had been expelled from the army or navy, and those who had lost their Brazilian citizenship. It also specified that draftees who had served a prison sentence of two months or more be required to serve on the frontier.57 The army tried to free itself of the “criminal” elements that had once routinely formed part of its ranks and to isolate those with questionable backgrounds. These admission requirements were obviously minimal and, given the primitive bureaucracy, hard to enforce. Nevertheless, the army made strides to shore up troop respectability.

International trends that glamorized martial arts and exploits reinforced these reforms, suggesting a new military model of masculinity. Lord Robert Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts (formed in England in 1908) rapidly spread to Brazil and other nations, making military-style training and nationalistic ritual popular leisure activities for the sons of middle- and upper- class families. In an age of naked imperialism, robust men of action like Theodore Roosevelt became admired international figures. Roosevelt’s legendary Rough Riders and the Charge of San Juan Hill formed an integral part of his charismatic mystique. His 1913 Amazon expedition with Brazil’s most famous hinterland explorer and ambassador to unpacified Indian tribes, General Cândido Rondon, inspired admiration for these paragons of masculine virtue. In 1912, one draft advocate cited Roosevelt’s views on manhood and military service: “It is a nation three times disgraced in which men lose their combative fiber and are incapable of serving in the ranks on the day the national defense requires them.”58

The frontiersman, explorer, patriot, sportsman, statesman, warrior, public servant, and humanitarian became an archetype of Belle Epoque manhood. Brazilian officers like Rondon were the public figures who best conformed to this new male role model. To emulate them, fathers and sons even of notable families joined newly founded sharpshooting clubs (linhas de tiro) where, as in the Boy Scout troops, they wore uniforms, drilled, learned new skills, and performed patriotic rituals. Like their counterparts in nineteenth-century Germany and Switzerland, Brazilian tiro clubs became important agents in organizing public patriotic ritual in the early 1900s. The tiros lobbied for conscription, but they also hypocritically sought exemption from the draft for their mostly middle- and upper-class members. By training in exclusive tiro clubs, young men could earn reservist status.59

In addition, sporting clubs such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, crew teams, and soccer clubs became increasingly popular. These activities were considered healthy and hygienic alternatives to the saloon and the brothel, particularly for youths. Conscription’s advocates tapped into the militaristic and sporting craze to mobilize support for the draft.

Yet while some who reveled in nationalist ecstacy called for a draft, others still reviled it as a violation of traditional rights.60 Anarchosyndicalist labor leaders, orthodox positivists, and antimilitarist politicians reinvigorated decades-old Liberal arguments against peacetime conscription. On January 5, 1908, the day after the Câmara passed its version of the draft legislation, the Federação Operária (Workers’ Federation) met to debate and protest it. One idealistic young army officer, Lieutenant Gentil Falcão, attended the meeting. During the open-floor debate, Falcão rose and proclaimed that conscription was the only way to reform the army and require all citizens to serve their fatherland. A labor leader then asked him to define “fatherland.” Falcão responded that it was the “intimate relationship that links a people to the land in which they were born. This fatherland has the right to demand that its sons perform their duty to defend it.” Labor leaders disagreed, insisting that “the fatherland is the family, it is not a piece of land.”61 The shouts of angry workers frustrated Falcão’s attempt to respond.

The labor leaders then proceeded to criticize the draft legislation. One advised household heads to resist both militarism and public schools that made children believe that the “army and the fatherland are beneficial to workers,” and other “canards.” This comment is particularly interesting because the writer and activist Olavo Bilac had published several patriotic school texts.62 Another speaker added, “workers do not want to serve the fatherland; they want to live for their families, dignifying them through the honor that springs from their daily labor.” These complaints echoed Liberal criticisms of military service, but workers also emphasized the inviolability of the house. As one laborer simply put it, “the home is the most sacred place of a society.”63

Labor leaders joined forces with orthodox positivists and antimilitarist politicians to form the Liga Anti-Militarista Brasileira (LAB) in 1908. They addressed their first manifesto specifically to mothers who had been effective in undermining the draft in the past. The manifesto warned mothers that if their sons were drafted they would serve alongside criminals. It urged mothers to teach their children to oppose the draft and to discourage them from imitating other children (perhaps Boy Scouts) who dressed up in uniforms and learned the skills of war.64 The LAB insisted that the draft would undermine “honorable” families and would constitute a change tantamount to reinstituting slavery.

Passage of the Obligatory Military Service Law in May 1908 coincided with approval of the first national Flag Day. But despite the patriotic fanfare, advocates lacked the political power to implement the draft. Though the LAB lost the legislative battle, its propaganda helped frustrate the law’s execution for eight years. The law suffered from defects, powerful enemies, lack of public cooperation, and an inadequate bureaucracy.65 Even so, new trends and events would spur its eventual execution.

Making the Army a “Family” and the Barracks a “House”

When conscription’s proponents realized that they faced an uphill battle to execute the 1908 law, they decided to pay more attention to the poor’s sensibilities than they had in the past. The changing nature of enlisted careers was coupled with a rhetorical transition that resonated with the ideology of the house and street. Meanwhile, the urban middle and upper classes found new scientific reasons to support a draft amid the uncertainties of World War I.

Lieutenant Gentil Falcão, who had directly confronted the arguments of disgruntled workers in 1908, became one of the draft’s most active advocates. In 1910, he toured Minas Gerais delivering public speeches and publishing editorials in favor of conscription. He and others mounted public campaigns to garner popular support for the draft. Later, in 1923, he published A defesa nacional, ou o regulamento do sorteio em linguagem popular (National Defense, or Draft Regulations in Popular Language).66 A pioneer in army public relations, Falcão became convinced that reformers had to make the draft intelligible and acceptable to the “respectable” poor if it was to succeed. To do so, he poached antimilitarist rhetoric.

Falcão and others began to talk about the army in explicitly familial terms in an attempt to domesticate the barracks. The army would “make Brazilians into brothers serving their common mother: the nation.” Officers would treat their conscripted “brothers in arms” with affection, and the barracks would no longer be the refuge of social reprobates. Humiliating punishments and tasks had been eliminated. The new soldier would be an auxiliary rather than his officers’ servant, much less a slave.67 Falcão sensed that the stigma of servile labor and corporal punishment still preoccupied workers in a society that had abolished slavery only two decades earlier.

Important intellectual converts to conscription’s cause backed a new generation of activist Prussophile officers, the Young Turks, who began pushing for a draft through their organ A defesa nacional. With support from the army and tiro clubs, Olavo Bilac became president of the Liga de Defesa Nacional. The LDN campaigned tirelessly to pressure Congress to implement conscription.68 Bilac both symbolized and facilitated the conversion of Brazil’s urban middle and upper classes to favoring the draft as a practical necessity for national survival.

Bilac now demonstrated no patience for those who opposed conscription as an integral part of the nationalist revival. For him, the “nation is the great magic, the inviolable taboo that should be blindly adored, without being touched.” And woe be unto the “moral monsters” who doubted this creed, because to “deny the fatherland is to deny all social and moral life.”69 Bilac traveled across southern Brazil delivering this message to educated urbanites, breathing new life into the dead letter of 1908.

Like Falcão, Bilac mercilessly assaulted the idea that conscription was pernicious to home and family. “The fatherland is a thread that links the family and humanity. To deny one is to deny the other. He who does not conceive of the ideal of fatherland cannot conceive of the idea of a home, or human solidarity. Without a fatherland, and therefore, without a family, without a society, man annuls himself.” For Bilac, the sanctity of one’s home and family could be defended only with a clear understanding of one’s obligations to one’s nation. To have citizens, it was necessary to teach them the “hygiene of the body and the soul, [through] primary civic and military instruction.”70 Thus, conscription as well as hygiene laws were not attacks on the home’s inviolability but means of protecting it. The rhetoric of physical, social, and spiritual hygiene justified the penetration of public power into formerly sacrosanct areas of private domain.

Other, less famous draft advocates refuted perceptions that barracks life implied sexual “deviance.” A 1916 tract ridiculed the common prejudice against sexually segregated institutions. “How is one to have an idea of fatherland if he does not have a home or a family?! Everyone disparages the honest celibacy of the priest and the soldier . . . for the miserable life they lead, if they are not sexually deviant, they are [assumed to be] eunuchs.”71 Propagandists began to address the specific prejudices that shrouded the barracks in a sinister fog of social castration and sexual perversion. Internationally, conscription was creating new types of homosociability that had to be sanctioned and brought into harmony with nationalist rhetoric that idealized the heterosexual nuclear family.72

Reformers took pains to praise the “celibate” young men who would serve their nation like stoic priests. They explained how the draft and army discipline would serve to fortify family values, community solidarity, the work ethic, and masculine virtue. Previous attempts to implement conscription had not been accompanied by a persistent attempt to sell it to the public and to recast soldiering’s image. Unlike the mobilization for World War I in the United States, for example, where draft dodgers were subject to gender ridicule that labeled them emasculated “slackers,” in Brazil, propagandists had to convince the public that army service was manly.73

Even Leandro Gomes de Barros, who in 1916 reprinted his 1906 humorous draft protest song, changed his tune in 1917 when German U-boats sank four Brazilian freighters. Brazil declared war on Germany, and Gomes published a stirringly nationalistic handbill of patriotic songs, “Echos da patria” (Echos of the Fatherland), calling on common Brazilians to volunteer to “defend our fatherland, honor, name, and national symbols.”74 Although Gomes did not explicitly advocate conscription, he now described the Brazilian army as an honorable institution. “The Brazilian army is very well disciplined, and a man’s free will allows him to exercise his sacred right to give his life for the fatherland.”75 Now that Brazil faced foreign aggression, this lyricist portrayed enlisted service as a sacred duty.

Intellectuals, officers, and politicians attributed new significance to conscription, which galvanized a broad-based coalition among more prosperous Brazilians advocating a draft. The grim lessons of World War I made military preparedness appear a transcendent question of national survival. Fears of a European invasion were heightened by a millenarian movement known as the Contestado Rebellion (1912-16), against which the army had to mobilize nearly half its forces. The Contestado demonstrated that the poor did not identify themselves with the nation-state. Some observers, influenced by the empirical bigotry of Social Darwinism, took the Contestado as a sign that Brazil’s racial heterogeneity and environmental diversity might prevent it from becoming a modern, unified, and “white” nation.

Before World War I, in an attempt to “whiten” and consolidate the national “race,” the state had subsidized mostly European immigration. Ironically, during World War I, isolated German, Japanese, Italian, and Polish immigrant colonies (where few bothered to learn Portuguese) became an unexpected threat to national unity. Many Brazilians believed that such colonies could become beachheads of foreign domination. Meanwhile, reformers in urban centers saw a threat to national security in the strikes led by labor unions during the war. Those fears were exacerbated in 1915, when a coup plot was uncovered among labor militants and army sergeants (whose careers were threatened by army reforms). Reformers took these developments as further confirmation of the desperate need to reorganize military service and indoctrinate the populace with a unifying nationalist ideology. The mostly foreign-born labor union leadership was an easy mark for xenophobic nationalists, who now depicted the draft’s opponents as medizing extremists.76

Also during this period, an increasing preoccupation with public hygiene made Brazilians more aware than ever of the population’s poor health. Health officials who followed neo-Lamarckian genetic theory argued that by improving public sanitation, education, and physical fitness, the state could promote race “improvement” (the implication being that it would accelerate the “whitening” of Brazilians). Eugenist-backed state interventionism supplanted the less intrusive policies of positivists, who had defended the ideology of the house. In this climate, a draft became the most practical and vigorous state measure to improve defense while instructing a broader cross section of Brazil’s ethnically and racially diverse lower classes in hygiene, physical fitness, discipline, the Portuguese language, and national identity. Draft advocates apparently struck a chord with the urban middle and upper classes by arguing that conscription could transform the poor and ameliorate problems that clouded the vision of national destiny.77

Meanwhile, the LDN continued its unprecedented lobbying, eventually drawing favorable press, along with some fortuitous political breakthroughs.78 Senator Ruy Barbosa’s Anglo- and Francophilia moved him to pressure the government to declare war on Germany very early in the conflict. His enthusiasm for this political objective caused this staunch antimilitarist to soften his stance against conscription. In addition, the congressional puppetmaster, José Gomes Pinheiro Machado, was assassinated in September 1915. His death led to a breakdown of his Conservative Republican Party (PRC), an interregional coalition of mostly rural coronéis, helping to clear the way for conscription. As one political foe put it, “With the advent of obligatory military service, the embryos of Pinheiro Machado, if they are gestating, will be fatally aborted.”79 Opposition to the draft now rested mainly with the labor unions.

All these developments were subsumed by an overall trend toward a more universal Rrazilian nationalism. As Renedict Anderson points out, nationalism requires a certain imagined homogenization and leveling of a citizenry to take hold.80 In Brazil, universal male conscription played a crucial role in this process. As Olavo Bilac preached,

What is generalized military service? It is the triumph of democracy; the leveling of classes; the school of discipline, order, and cohesion; the laboratory of dignity and patriotism. It is obligatory primary education, obligatory civic education, obligatory decency, obligatory hygiene, obligatory muscular and psychic regeneration.81

If Brazil hoped to mobilize an army capable of warding off potential European aggressors (let alone Argentina, its regional nemesis, which had implemented conscription in 1901), it had to develop its human resources and nationalistic sentiments.

In 1915, as momentum built for the draft’s implementation, one officer paused to reflect on why universal conscription had been so difficult to achieve. In a widely circulated editorial, Captain Estevão Leitão de Carvalho drew a direct connection between resistance to conscription and the 1904 Vaccine Revolt, utilizing the ideology of the house.

Military service of a compulsory character for all citizens is really an exotic plant among us because it comes from other more prudent peoples and never became part of Brazil’s institutions. How could it be well received by a society in which men live only for themselves? . . . Natives of Rio were also hostile to collective hygiene, which hardly demanded anything from the individual, beyond not permitting one to defile the place where one lives; all of us remember the extreme public reaction against the prophylactic measures for yellow fever.82

Carvalho despaired over Brazilians’ undue sensitivity to what they perceived as public encroachment on the private sphere. Reformers hoped that the draft would help subsume Brazilians’ strong sense of personal honor into a collective sense of national honor.

For these reasons, conscription took on a special significance. Brazil, unlike Britain and the United States, did not dismantle its draft system after World War I but made efforts to bolster and expand it. Active-duty forces expanded from 16,000 to 40,000 over the course of the 1920s. Most conscripts served only one year, greatly amplifying the army’s importance as an institution of socialization.

Increasingly, army officers described the relationships of obedience and hierarchy in their institution in terms of a nurturing family.83 They thereby aligned themselves with the natural respectability and legitimacy of society’s most fundamental institution. Superiors now exercised a “fatherly” authority over their troops. In 1920, the war minister stated that if the army were to call on the “sons of families,” then it was the army’s responsibility to make the barracks “an extension of the home,” where the kindness and concern of officers should recall that of parents.84

Before the national conscription lottery was in place, it would have been difficult to imagine officers stating, “It is the obligation of every instructor to make himself loved by his soldiers.”85 When impressment had filled the army’s ranks with “dangerous” men, officers tended to espouse the draconian eighteenth-century philosophy of Frederick the Great of Prussia, “soldiers should fear their officers more than the enemy.”

The national conscription lottery gave officers the freedom to rethink and reshape the barracks as a social space. They rhetorically rebuilt the barracks in the form of a large house that sheltered the “respectable” extended fraternal family of the nation. As Captain Gerardo Lemos do Amaral put it, “The army is a family that lives in the shadow of the flag. . .. Trusting each comrade as if he were a brother, the military family will always be prepared ... to emerge victorious.”86 In this manner, officers remodeled the barracks into a kind of national house, an “honorable” vessel that protected and developed the nation’s masculine virtue.

In addition, army propaganda manuals explained citizens’ military duty, the function of the draft, and everyday barracks life. Even the Catholic church, which formerly had not supported conscription, published material designed for soldiers to read, drawing examples of valor and rectitude from sacred texts.87 Propaganda and reforms slowly altered the earlier public perception of enlisted service as an emasculating punishment. This new rhetoric reflected an important transition toward a more inclusive nationalist ideology, which sought to develop the bodies and genes of the “respectable” poor as well as to win over their hearts and minds. The rhetoric, moreover, was matched by real improvement in conditions. New, more sanitary, and more isolated barracks compounds were constructed, making service less onerous and dangerous. Rates of desertion and violent crime dropped dramatically after 1916.88 Though the draft did not work perfectly, the barracks appeared to be inching away from the street and toward the house.

The extent to which the public and the soldiers themselves embraced state propaganda is difficult to gauge. Oswaldo Barroso’s 1924 memoir, Memórias de urn recruta, a rare document of a draftee’s experiences, suggests that “the biggest propagandists against the draft are those soldiers who spend a year in the barracks” because of the poor food, medical treatment, and conditions. Called up from rural São Paulo, Barroso criticizes the poorly organized draft lottery, arguing that coronéis manipulate draft boards. His memoir, however, reveals him to be unusually well educated, indicating that even the more privileged poor were often unable to escape the draft.

Despite his criticisms, Barroso is fascinated by the transformation that conscripts undergo in the barracks. At first they are skittish and awkward; too disoriented to eat well, they grow skinny. Recruits from the countryside have always “feared and hated soldiers, and when they first don a uniform they seem scared of themselves.” But after a few months, their faces look confident. Barroso observes that draftees receive “a bath of civilization” and become “more aware, robust, and adroit with daily exercise. In short, they are already different men, who obey their officers out of a sense of discipline rather than terror.” By wearing uniforms, marching in unison, and shaving their heads, draftees give themselves over to the regiment’s “mass anonymity.” For Barroso, this powerful socialization process not only transforms rustics but can turn “the most timid bourgeois into a warrior.”89

In his memoir, Barroso expresses contradictory views on status in the barracks. On the one hand,

In the opinions of most officers, those who frequent the barracks are pariahs, people who do not have a place to fall down dead.90

On the other hand,

Conscripts come from everywhere and officers from many walks of life; here they agglomerate in a paradoxical and unusual promiscuity . . . blacks and whites, mulattos and blonds, rich and poor elbow one another at every turn. They live the same existence. The representatives of all social classes are leveled. The black man dresses himself, feeds himself, and has the same treatment as white men. They eat at the same table together. On the base, social prejudice does not exist.91

Barroso’s suggestion that the army levels classes and races while making men more robust seems lifted directly from Bilac. While he does not speak of the army as a family, he is obviously impressed by the comradeship and discipline that barracks life inspires among men of diverse origins. Thus, perhaps like most Brazilians exposed to militaristic propaganda, Barroso does not swallow these precepts whole. Instead he filters them through his own experience and comes to mixed conclusions.

Propaganda and steadily improving conditions evidently did not change public perceptions of enlisted service overnight. To ensure the necessity of undertaking a draft, therefore, the government allowed for voluntary enlistment in only one month of the year. Volunteers, moreover, had to be literate and single, meet more rigorous health standards, and provide testaments of good comportment from local authorities.

By 1916, officials knew from experience that the state could not depend on voluntary registration to obtain adequate draft rolls. Registration efforts continued, but officials also compiled lists from civil birth and voting registries, a method that proved inefficient and cumbersome. Names of people who had died as children (a sizable number, given the infant mortality rates) appeared on draft lists, proving Leandro Gomes de Barros prophetic when in 1906 he joked that even the dead would be conscripted.92 Young men who moved from their place of birth and registered for the draft or for voting elsewhere were unjustly liable to be called up in both places. Civil birth records themselves were often poorly organized, especially in rural areas, making urban youths more likely to be drafted. These factors partly explain the large numbers of young men who failed to report.

The draft transformed the linkages between the army and Brazil’s lower classes. Thousands of Brazilian youths remained undocumented. In the past, impressment had drawn heavily from those more likely to be undocumented: rural migrants, vagrants, and orphans. Now, these individuals were less likely to appear on draft rolls. Authorities drew more and more recruits from the areas near local battalions, thereby restructuring regional recruitment patterns to match more closely the distribution of garrisons. The southern half of Brazil now contributed more troops, and those born and registered in urban centers were now more likely to serve.93

Impressment had integrated recruits of varying ages into local garrisons year-round, a few at a time. With conscription, more younger, raw recruits entered the barracks simultaneously, facilitating the socialization process essential to modern training and discipline. Most recruits now served in units close to their home and kin, and for only one year. Thus, conscripts were better able to rely on and contribute to family support networks and to remain in contact with local employers. In practice, married conscripts were often allowed to live off base with their wives.94 These measures made army service seem less of a threat to the dignity and household economies of “honorable” poor families. Garrisons now marched to a new rhythm of perennial basic training aimed at building a large reserve force.

Officers continued to complain about recruits’ poor education and health, as well as the draft law’s gaping loopholes. Officers had hoped to draw better-educated and healthier young men from more prosperous families, but the homes of the middle sectors continued to be impervious to the encroaching street. Through legal loopholes and extralegal influence peddling, most sons of the middle and upper classes did not pay the “tribute of blood.”95 Yet although officers continued to hold low opinions of their troops, the barracks no longer served as a convenient penal dumping ground. The suggestion by some contemporary critics that the army continued to recruit the dregs of society therefore must be viewed critically. Conscripts’ poor health and education reflected the difficult conditions endured by poor Brazilians generally, whether from “honorable” or less than “honorable” families.

The draft system was encumbered by a primitive bureaucracy and weakened by even less enforcement. That it functioned at all is perhaps the best testament to changing public attitudes toward military service. While many youths found exemptions and thousands never reported for duty, more and more of the “honorable” poor served brief stints as praças. Although many labor leaders continued to preach against the draft and others maintained a repugnance toward enlisted service, the conscription disturbances and riots of the late empire noticeably subsided. Even so, the disciplined, professional army that the reforms were intended to create buckled during the Tenente (lieutenant) Revolts (1922, 1924-27) and partially collapsed during the 1930 Revolution.96

Getúlio Vargas’ dictatorial Estado Novo (1937-45) tightened draft law enforcement and made strenuous efforts to depoliticize the ranks by indoctrinating soldiers against communist and socialist ideology. Vargas’ 1939 Military Service Law required all males to present an army reservist card (issued only by draft authorities) before they could register to vote, apply for government jobs, or qualify for state benefits. New penalties were imposed on draft dodgers, and fees were exacted from those not required to serve.97 Young men who aspired to positions in the expanding state bureaucracy thus had to cooperate with the draft authorities. Problems persisted, but the system’s efficiency was enhanced.

Vargas’ military and foreign policy glamorized enlisted service. By 1936, army enlisted troop strength had mushroomed to 74,284. Obviously, the army’s role in training and indoctrinating young men had undergone a dramatic expansion. The growth of troop strength outpaced that of the general population, but it still represented only a small portion of the 3,467,354 young men of military age (20 to 30) counted in the 1940 census.98

Vargas soon put his new conscription laws to a severe test. In 1944, the ranks held 153,158 praças, commanded by more than 10,000 officers. That year Brazil mobilized the only Latin American expeditionary force, the Força Expedicionária Brasileira (FEB), which fought alongside the Allies. Army health officials examined 107,609 young men for the expedition, initially rejecting only 23,236. Many draftees relied on family influence to secure exemptions from the FEB, but Vargas had proven that the draft could raise a large force in a time of crisis.99 Vargas’ innovations included paying benefits to expeditionaries’ families to curb the financial onus of conscription. Meanwhile, the army established the Liga Brasileira de Assistência, symbolically headed by the wife of the FEB commander, to facilitate correspondence and aid the families of soldiers on the home front.100

The FEB won a hard-fought victory in the battle of Monte Castello, Italy, alleviating doubts that Brazil’s racial heterogeneity would prevent it from becoming a major world power. Reports from the front emphasized that the real heroes were the praças. Some dubbed it the war of the praçinhas (dear little praças).101 Even though they were demobilized hurriedly on their return, the FEB members, or febianos, received a hero’s welcome. Crowds swarmed them and greeted them with hugs, kisses, and “all the effusiveness usually reserved for immediate friends and relatives.”102 The populace now embraced soldiers as if they were family; the barracks had never seemed so close to the house.

Despite government attempts to discourage them from organizing, the febianos formed Brazil’s first vibrant veterans’ association of enlisted men and officers. Today, across Brazil, members still march in annual parades, trying to recapture some of the nationalistic euphoria of a period that went unmatched until Brazil won World Cup soccer championships in 1958, 1962, 1970, and 1994. The giant, modernistic monument in Rio de Janeiro that celebrates the febianos’ triumph does not, like previous war memorials, glorify individual officers, but instead privileges the ill-defined, nearly homogeneous, racially neutral physiognomies of unknown praças. In stone, at least, “Brazilians” are symbolically homogenized into a single, if poorly delineated, “race.” Never before was the anonymous praça so publicly glorified, so respected, or so closely associated with national honor.


More than anyone, Vargas undermined the power of the state-based political machines that had dominated politics during the Old Republic (1889-1930). A fundamental part of this transition involved a protracted attack on certain conceptions of manhood. Reform programs had to develop, disseminate, and popularize alternative visions of appropriate gender roles and new yardsticks to measure honor and status. The new respectability of soldiering was central to redefining gender roles in relation to honor.103 A telling indicator in this self-conscious effort was already beginning to appear in the early 1900s: the replacement of the Portuguese feminine definite article a by the masculine definite article o before the term praça when referring to soldiers.104 One commentator took this obsession with the “masculinity” of soldiering one step further when he expressed chagrin that Brazil’s World War II heroes were referred to in the diminutive as praçinhas.

Diminutives do not go well with heroism; one does not understand the tenderness of domestic epithets in the tumult of the streets. So let us leave for other places and for the other sex the softness of this more or less effeminate tenderness.105

The draft’s implementation indicates that the inviolability of the house lost some of its importance as a determinant of masculine honor. The recent acquittals handed down by Brazilian juries for men who, to defend “honor,” murdered their wives caught in the act of adultery indicate that this transition remains far from complete.106 Still, these new challenges to established ideas of manly honor facilitated public acceptance of the draft.

The army’s traditional recruitment system had reinforced the power of coronéis over their clients by forcing poor families and individuals to seek local patrons for protection. By drafting an increasing proportion of the “honorable” poor, the army began to undermine the virtual monopoly the coronéis held on the protection market. Two years after the first draft, the federal government abrogated the national guard completely; under the Estado Novo, state and municipal police forces were subordinated to the War Ministry. Thus conscription did undermine important foundations of regional political organization. At the same time, the abolition of slavery, urbanization, and incipient industrialization slowly altered the character and structure of Brazil’s labor market and ultimately changed attitudes toward national service. Vargas’ Estado Novo confirmed the federal government’s new role as an important patron of the “honorable” poor. The inclusion of a greater proportion of Brazilians in military service lent legitimacy to the social programs and the more inclusive electoral politics of urban populism—even though, to this day, active-duty praças are prohibited from voting. Conscription also gave the military the organizational strength to undertake authoritarian rule in Brazil.

For the “honorable” poor, a short stint in the barracks became an accepted, if often resented, part of life. While enlisted service continued to hold a stigma for the sons of middle- and upper-class families, for the “honorable” poor it was no longer a social disgrace. The barracks were no longer the nation’s central penal institution, nor were they the male counterpart of the bordello. The ideal of universal conscription, however, remained largely class-bound, as the houses of the middle and upper classes remained less permeable to the street’s expanding power. The racist ideological assumptions that underlay the conscription project indicate that conscription’s intended targets were really those “honorable” poor, whose hearts, minds, health, and genes had to be won over to the nationalist cause. Even so, the draft’s implementation indicates that a significant new, if limited, accommodation had been reached between the barracks and the house, private and public power, personal and national honor. To undermine traditional patriarchy, the military had to appropriate its rhetoric: the army became a family and the barracks a house.

The Brazilian case suggests the importance of analyzing conscription and the cultural nexus of house and street as an innovative comparative approach to issues of citizenship, family, honor, gender, and nation. As one of the last widely accepted forms of corvée labor, conscription links the history of coercive and free labor systems as well as open and autocratic political systems. Studies of its adoption by different cultures should offer rich new comparative insights into the establishment of political and social rights, identities, and attitudes.107 The significance of conscription as an approach to these issues should encourage even those who turn up their noses at military history to reconsider it as an innovative avenue for comparative cultural, social, and institutional history.

The author thanks Robert M. Levine, Hendrick Kraay, Sonny Davis, Jeffrey Lesser, Elizabeth Kuznesof, Lisa M. Fine, Maureen Flanagan, and the three anonymous HAHR reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this essay. I am responsible for any errors of fact or interpretation herein. Generous support from the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities made possible the research and writing.

Archives consulted include the Arquivo Nacional, Rio de Janeiro (ANR); Biblioteca Nacional de Música, Rio de Janeiro (BNMR); Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro, Seção de Manuscritos (BNR-SM); Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth, Campinas, São Paulo (AEL); Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação, Rio de Janeiro (FGV-CPDOC).


Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis,” American Historical Review 91:5 (Dec. 1986), 1067-70. Two recent examples in Latin America are Sandra McGee Deutsch, “Gender and Sociopolitical Change in Twentieth-Century Latin America,” HAHR 71:2 (May 1991), 259-306; and Alan Knight, “Popular Culture and the Revolutionary State in Mexico, 1910-1940,” HAHR 74:3 (Aug. 1994), 393-444.


“Belmondy,” “O nosso soldado,” Alvorada (Jaguarão), Mar. 1878, p. 3.


Roberto da Matta, A casa e a rua: espaço, cidadania, mulher, e morte no Brasil (Rio: Guanabara, 1987), 31-69; idem, Carnavais, malandros, e heróis: para uma sociologia do dilema brasileiro, 5th ed. (Rio: Guanabara, 1990), 43-68. Some of Da Matta’s insights were presaged by Gilberto Freyre, Sobrados e macumbos: decadência do patriarcado rural e desenvolvimento do urbano, 7th ed. (Rio: José Olympio, 1985 [1936]), 1:34-41.


Collecçao das leis do Império do Brasil (Rio: Typ. Nacional, 1831), 3:215-16. Others have built on Da Matta’s insights: Sandra Lauderdale Graham, House and Street: The Domestic World of Servants and Masters in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1788), 3-27; José Murilho de Carvalho, Os bestializados: o Rio de Janeiro e a república que não foi (São Paulo: Cia. das Letras, 1991), 126-39; Thomas H. Holloway, “‘A Healthy Terror’: Police Repression of Capoeiras in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro,” HAHR 69:4 (Nov. 1989), 640; Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1992), 76-92; Richard G. Parker, Corpos, prazeres, e paixões: a cultura sexual no Brasil contemporâneo, 2d ed., trans. Maria Therezina M. Cavallari (São Paulo: Editora Best Seller, 1991), 156-59.


On praça status: Antônio Edmilson Martins Rodrigues et al., A guarda nacional no Rio de Janeiro, 1831-1918 (Rio: Pontífica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, 1981), 14-15; Joan E. Meznar, “The Ranks of the Poor: Military Service and Social Differentiation in Northeast Brazil,” HAHR 72:3 (Aug. 1992), 337-40; Peter M. Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service in Brazil, 1864-1940: Penal Servitude versus Conscription and Changing Conceptions of Honor, Race, and Nation” (Ph.D. diss,, Univ. of Miami, 1994), 364-78; Hendrik Kraay, “Soldiers, Officers, and Society: The Army in Bahia, Brazil, 1808-1889” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin, 1995), chap. 7.


Timothy J. Coates, “Exiles and Orphans: Forced and State-sponsored Colonizers in the Portuguese Empire, 1550-1720” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Minnesota, 1993), 113-15; M. N. Pearson, “The Crowd in Portuguese India,” in Coastal Western India: Studies in Portuguese Records, ed. Pearson (New Delhi: Concept, 1981), 42.


On the remission of Portuguese convicts to Brazil and beyond, see “Representação dos presos que haviam vindo de Lisboa e Porto como degredados para Moçambique, Angola, e outras partes, . . .” Rio de Janeiro, 1821, BNR-SM, Exército, pasta II-34,25,16.


See, e.g., a complaint to the War Ministry identifying one “Ignacio Celistino da Motta, casado and resident of this village” and describing him as a “respectable” colonist. War Ministry Correspondence, Philadelphia, Minas Gerais, June 19, 1874, ANR, caixa IG1214, folha 149.


See, e.g., the case of prisoner Bernardo Amâncio de Souza, in Police Chief of Juiz de Fora to War Minister, War Ministry Correspondence, Juiz de Fora, July 28, 1874, ANR, caixa IG1214, folha 151. Meznar provides examples from Paraíba in “Ranks of the Poor,” 342-44.


Dermeval Peixoto, Memórias de um velho sold ado: nomes, coisas, e fatos de meio século atrás (Rio: Biblioteca do Exército, 1960), 59. This practice seems similar to the privilege given to trusted slaves of farming their own provision grounds and allowing some to establish a private residence and marry. See B. J. Barickman, “ ‘A Bit of Land, Which They Call Roça’: Slave Provision Grounds in the Bahian Recôncavo, 1780-1860,” HAHR 74:4 (Nov. 1994), 649-88. For examples from another setting, see T. Dunbar Moodie, “Migrancy and Male Sexuality on the South African Gold Mines,” Journal of Southern African Studies 14:2 (Jan. 1988), 228-56.


Francisco Ferraz de Macedo, Da prostituição era Geral (Rio: Academica, 1873), 115-21, 167. Dr, Ferraz de Macedo held that female prostitutes should be herded into barracks-style public houses where they could be taxed, inspected, made to exact reasonable fees, and segregated from honorable families. The availability of cheap and healthy female prostitutes would reduce the “terrible serpent” of sodomy.


José Ricardo Pires de Almeida, Homosexualismo (a libertinagem no Rio de Janeiro) (Rio: Laemmert, 1906), 76-85.


Jurandir Freire Costa, Ordem médica e norma familiar, 3d ed. (Rio: Graal, 1989); Magali Engel, Meretrizes e doutores: saber médico e prostituição no Rio de Janeiro, 1840-1890 (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1988); Magareth Rago, Do cabaré ao lar: a utopia da cidade disciplinar, Brasil, 1890-1930 (Rio: Paz e Terra, 1985); Luiz Mott, Escravidão, homosexualidade, e demonologia (São Paulo: Icone, 1988); Peter Fry, Para inglês ver: identidade e política na cultura brasileira (Rio: Zahar, 1982), 93-100; Peter M. Beattie, “Asking, Telling, and Pursuing in the Brazilian Army and Navy in the Days of Cachaça, Sodomy, and the Lash, 1864-1916,” in Sex and Gender in Latin America, ed. Donna J. Guy and Daniel Balderston (New York: New York Univ. Press, forthcoming).


Relatório do Presidente da Província Henrique Pereira da Lucena (Recife: M. Figueiroa de F. e Filhos, Mar. 1, 1875), 35.


Frank D. McCann, “The Nation in Arms: Obligatory Military Service During the Old Republic,” in Essays Concerning the Socioeconomic History of Brazil and Portuguese India, ed. Dauril Alden and Warren Dean (Gainesville: Univ. Presses of Florida, 1977), 211-43. On veterans’ pride, see Eduardo Silva, Prince of the People: The Life and Times of a Free Man of Colour, trans. Moyra Ashford (New York: Verso, 1993), 38-40; Carlos Eugênio Líbano Soares, A negregada instituição: os capoeiras no Rio de Janeiro (Rio: Secretaria Municipal de Cultura, 1994), 185-96.


Theda Skocpol’s comparative work suggests this potential. See Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1992).


Evidence in the scholarship on recruitment in Latin America and beyond suggests that similar conceptions of honor and family shaped impressment. Ricardo D. Salvatore emphasizes that impressment targeted mostly single, itinerant rural laborers. “Reclutamiento militar, disciplinamento, y proletarización en la era de Rosas,” Boleín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana (Buenos Aires) 3:5 (primeiro serie, 1953). See also Guy P. C. Thompson, “Los indios y el servicio militar en el México decimonónico. Leva o ciudadanía?” in Indio, natión, y comunidad en el México del siglo XIX, ed. Antonio Escobar Ohmstede (Mexico City: Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, 1993), 207-51; Mary Elizabeth Perry, Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1980), chap. 5; Ruth Pike, “Penal Servitude in the Spanish Empire: Presidio Labor in the Eighteenth Century, HAHR 58:1 (Feb. 1978), 21-40; Gerald Edwin Shenk, “Work or Fight: Selective Service and Manhood in the Progressive Era” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of California, San Diego, 1992); Edgar Melton, Household Economies and Communal Conflicts on a Russian Serf Estate, 1800-1817” Journal of Social History 26 (Spring 1993), 559-85. For literary treatments of abusive impressment: José Hernández, The Gaucho Martin Fierro, bilingual ed., trans. C. E. Ward (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1967), 29-81; Ignacio Manuel Almirante, La navidad en las montañas, in Obras literárias completas (Mexico City: Oasis, 1959), 242-46; [Alfonso Henrique de] Lima Barreto, Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma (Rio: Ediouro, n.d. [1980s]), 85, 103. For a recent study that places ideas of proper manhood in a comparative perspective, see David D. Gilmore, Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1990).


Annaes do Senado Brasileiro (hereafter ASB), vols. 1-2 (June 28, 1869), 329.


Ibid., 329, 336. This and all subsequent emphasis in citations is the author’s.


Correspondence of the Presidency of Ceará with the War Ministry, Fortaleza, Sept. 11, 1867, ANR, maço IG140, no folha nos.


Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 122-49.


O Diário do Rio de Janeiro, June 8, 1874, p. 2.


O Globo (Rio), Aug. 18, 1874, p. 2.


Annexo da Secretária da Polícia, Relatório do Presidents da Província do Pernambuco João Pedro Carvalho de Moraes (Recife: Mar. 1, 1876), 1-2. Labor newspapers held similar views of veterans. See O Primeiro de Maio (Rio) 22 (May 1898), 2, in AEL. The island penal colony of Fernando de Noronha was administered by the army.


“Assemblea geral do Senado, sessão 65,” O Globo, Aug. 18, 1874, p. 2. On the state’s increasing concern with population management, see Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Penguin, 1978), 25-35.


“Assemblea de 13 de Agosto,” O Globo, Aug. 14, 1874, p. 2.


See Law 2556 in Collecção das leis do Império do Brazil (Rio: Typ. Nacional, 1875), 1:64-74.


See Law 5881, Article 115, ibid., 1:168-69, 189.


Collecção das decisões do governo do Império do Brazil (Rio: Typ. Nacional, 1876), 236.


Relatório do . . . Henrique Pereira de Lucena, 7. See also Roderick J. Barman, “The Brazilian Peasantry Reexamined: The Implications of the Quebra-Quilo Revolt, 1874-1875,” HAHR 57:3 (Aug. 1977), 401-24; Joan E. Meznar, “Deference and Dependence: The World of Small Farmers in a Northeastern Community, 1850-1900” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin, 1986), 191-247; Geraldo Ireneo Joffily, O Quebra Quilo: a revolta dos matutos contra os doutores (Brasília: Thesaurus, 1977).


President of Paraíba to the War Minister, Ingá, Apr. 13, 1875, ANR, maço IG157, no folha nos.


President of Paraíba to the War Minister, May 17, 1875, ANR, maço IG157, no folha nos.; “O recrutamento na Paraíba,” O Globo, Feb. 12, 1875, p. 2; Meznar, “Ranks of the Poor,” 350, n. 50.


Relatório do Presidente da Província Francisco da Faria Lemos à assembled cearense (Fortaleza: Typ. Cearense, July 1, 1876), 5.


In 1912, Governor Nogueira Acioli, who had dominated Ceará’s politics since 1896, fell from power when his military police forces fired on a group of women demonstrators. A violent popular reaction ousted the oligarch in three days. Edgard Carone, A república velha, 4th ed., 2 vols. (São Paulo: DIFEL, 1983), vol. 2, Evolução político (1889-1930), 291-92. On the constraints on female “liberty,” see Graham, House and Street, chap. 2; Sueann Caulfield and Martha de Abreu Esteves, “Fifty Years of Virginity in Rio de Janeiro: Sexual Politics and Gender Roles in Juridical and Popular Discourse, 1890-1940,” Luso-Brazilian Review 30 (Summer 1993). 63-65.


For a recent study of honor and the etiquette of female protest, see Steve J. Stern, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1995). On the importance of honor for reciprocity networks among poor women in contemporary Brazil, see Scheper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping, 102-5. On military salaries see McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 219-21.


“Relatório do Chefe da Polícia,” in Relatório do Presidente da Província apresentado à assemblea cearense (Fortaleza: June 1, 1876), 1.


War Ministry to President of Bahia, Dec. 21, 1875, ANR, maço IG1128 , folhas 1109, 1112. The war minister acknowledged that similar raids had occurred in ten provinces. Relatório da Repartição do Ministćrio de Guerra (RRMGu) (Rio: Typ. Nacional, 1877), 3; Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” chap. 3.


Victor Nunes Leal, Coronelismo, voto enxada e o município e o regime representativo no Brasil, 2d ed. (São Paulo: Alfa-Omega, 1975); Richard Graham, Patronage and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1990); Rodrigues et. al, A guarda nacional; Jeanne Berrance de Castro, A milicia cidada: a guarda nacional 1831 a 1850 (São Paulo: Nacional, 1977).


“A guarda nacional,” O Echo Popular (Rio), May 31, 1890, p. 1.


Senator Gomes de Castro, in ASB (Aug. 11, 1896), 3:422.


Processo 412, Ernesto Carlos Schmidt (1900), ANR, Suprema Tribunal Militar, caixa 13.262, p. 98.


On civilian murders in the name of honor, see Sidney Chalhouh, Trabalho, lar, e botequim: o cotidiano dos trabalhadores no Rio de Janeiro da Belle Epoque (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986).


“Regulamento para instrucção e serviço geral nos corpos de tropa do exército,” in ASB, sessão Mar. 29, 1916, 2:362-506.


Annaes da Câmara Brasiliera (hereafter ACB), sessão July 20, 1915, 3:95.


Carvalho, Os bestializados, 126-39.


These strategies are similar to those analyzed in Foucault’s History of Sexuality. Working women, however, also managed to subvert this system for their own ends. See Martha de Abreu Esteves, Meninas perdidas: os populares e o cotidiano do amor no Rio de Janeiro da Belle Epoque (Rio: Paz e Terra, 1989), 25-32, 83-114; Caulfield and Esteves, “Fifty Years of Virginity,” 47-74.


Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, Actual agitação militarista pelo serviço militar obrigatório e a regeneração humana (Rio: Typ. Jornal do Commercio, Oct. 28, 1915), 3. See also other Teixeira Mendes tracts: O ensino público e o despotismo sanitário (Rio: Igreja Positivista do Brazil, June 4, 1910); A liberdade espiritual e a vacinação obrigatória (Rio: Igreja Positivista do Brazil, 1902); Mais um attentado de depotismo sanitário: transporte violento ao hospital, sujeição à inoculações tirânicas, morte da víctima, profanação do cadaver (Rio: Igreja Positivista do Brazil, Mar. 15, 1909).


Quoted in Correio da Manha (Rio), Nov. 6, 1904, p. 1, cited in Carvalho, Os bestializados, 100-101.


Cited in Cruz Costa, O positivismo na República: notas sobre a história do positivismo no Brasil (São Paulo: Nacional, 1956), 38.


Correio da Manha, Nov. 10, 1904, cited in Carone, A república velha, 2:220.


The “kindergarten” (jardim de infância) congressmen (young politicians thrust into prominent positions by President Afonso Augusto Moreira Pena) and War Minister General Hermes da Fonseca played key roles in pushing the draft legislation. Carone, A república velha, 2:228; McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 213.


Leandro Gomes de Barros, “O tempo de hoje. O sorteio militar,” pamphlet (Guariba, Paraíba: P. Baptista, 1918 [1906]), in BNMR.


Da Matta, Carnavais, malandros, e heróis, 35-118.


Zé Churumella ja disse: / O governo me sorteia, / Eu pego minha mulher, / Vou liquidal-a na peia, / Fico livre do sorteio, / Morra embora na cadeia. Gomes de Barros, “O sorteio.”


“Jack,” “Olho na rua,” Jornal do Ceará (Fortaleza), Dec. 30, 1907, pp. 1-2.


Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 255-56; McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 216.


Collecção das leis da República das Estados Unidos do Brazil de 1908, vol. 1 (Rio: Imprensa Nacional, 1909), 11-33.


Assumpção, Serviço militar obrigatório (Belo Horizonte: Imp. do Estado de Minas, 1912), 12. On Rondon, see Esther de Viveiros, ed., Rondon conta sua vida (Rio: Livraria São José, 1958). 376-425. National literary figure Olavo Bilac praised the Boy Scouts as a means of advancing military training and morality among Brazil’s youth. See his speech “Escoteiros,” Aug. 26, 1916, in A defesa national: discursos (Rio: Biblioteca do Exército, 1965), 75-80.


On sharpshooting clubs, see McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 226-29, 234; Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 256-60. For Europe, George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991), 148-60.


See, e.g., Associação de Empregados no Commercio do Rio de Janeiro, Sorteio militar: representação dirigida ao congresso national (Rio: Typ. do Jornal do Commercio, 1907).


“Sorteio militar,” Jornal do Brasil (Rio), January 1908. I thank Celso Castro for generously sharing this citation.


See Olavo Bilac and Coelho Netto, Contos pátrios para alumnos das escolas primárias (Rio: Francisco Alves, 1904). This patriotic primer went through 50 editions before 1968. Bilac also penned Atravez do Brazil (narrativas) livros de leitura para o curso médio das escolas primárias (Rio: Francisco Alves, 1910). In a speech to educators, Bilac stated, “I elevate you to this divine charter, in order that you be ... a generator of patriots and not anarchists.” Bilac, Ultimas conferencias e discursos (Rio: Francisco Alves, 1924), 62.


The Federação Operária’s meetings are reported in Jornal do Brasil, Jan. 13, 20, and 27, 1908. Again I thank Celso Castro for sharing these citations.


For the Antimilitarist League’s manifesto see its periodical Não Matarás (Rio), Mar. 1908, in AEL. One pro-draft tract lambasted antimilitarists who “appeal to the weak spirit of women to persuade” their husbands and sons to resist conscription. Assumpção, Serviço militar obrigatório, 8.


Conscription advocates delayed voting on the draft until 1908, when the articulate and powerful antimilitarist senator Rui Barbosa left to take a diplomatic post in the Hague. Carone, A república velha, vol. 1, Instituicões e classes sociais, 353. Like its predecessor, the 1908 law did not call for a draft if enough volunteers presented themselves. See RRMGu (Rio: Nacional, 1914), 3-4; McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 229; Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 288-92.


Gentil Falcão, A defesa nacional ou o regulamento do sorteio em linguagem popular (Rio: Typ. do Jornal do Commercio, 1923).




McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 230-32.


Bilac, A defesa national, 41, 133.


Ibid., 133-34.


Domingos Ubaldo, A greve militar (n.p., 1916), 3.


On the fetishes of novelists, politicians, and physicians for the heterosexual nuclear family as the normative foundation of national societies, see Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1991), 33-51; Freire Costa, Ordem médica, 35-77; George Chauncey, Jr., “Christian Brotherhood or Sexual Perversion? Homosexual Identities and the Construction of Sexual Boundaries in the World War I Era” Journal of Social History 19 (Winter 1985), 189-211.


The journalist João do Rio was impressed by the new aspect of soldiers he observed. Do Rio, No tempo de Wencesláo (Rio: Villas-Boas, 1917), 217-35. See also Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 168-69; Shenk, “Work or Fight.”


Leandro Gomes de Barros, “Echos da pátria,” pamphlet (Recife, 1917), 10, in BNMR; see also “A Guerra” and “Canto de Guerra,” ibid.


Gomes de Barros, “Echos da Patria,” 6, 10.


The Sergeants’ Revolt of 1915-16 involved NCOs in the army, navy, police, and fire corps and labor leaders. One cause was that sergeants did not receive the same family benefits as officers. The war minister averred that the state could not afford to “assume the responsibility of protecting the families of battalion sergeants because from then on there would not be a sergeant who would not marry.” Carone, A república velha, 2:316-19; McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 232-34. On labor militancy from a gender perspective, see Joel Wolfe, Working Women, Working Men: São Paulo and the Rise of Brazil’s Industrial Working Class, 1900-1955 (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1993), chap. 1. On the foreign-born union leaders, see Sheldon L. Maram, “The Immigrant and the Brazilian Labor Movement, 1890-1920,” in Alden and Dean, Essays, 178-210.


For a deeper examination of these ideologies, see Peter M. Beattie, “Fusing the Ideologies of Hygiene, Eugenics, Nationalism, and Militarism: The Special Significance of National Military Conscription in Brazil, 1900-1930” (Paper presented to the Brazilian Studies Association, Minneapolis, May 12, 1995). See also Thomas E. Skidmore, Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought, 2d ed. (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1993); and Nancy Leys Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991).


Later, in Congress, Deputy Mario Hermes, a relative of President Hermes da Fonseca (1910-14), praised the support of Rio’s newspapers for conscription: “Almost all newspapers, to begin with the Carioca newspapers O Paiz, A Rua, O Imparcial, and Correio de Manha, have dedicated columns of . . . support [to conscription].” ACB, sessão June 30, 1916, 3:415.


ACB, sessão July 26, 1915, 2:338. On the PRC, see ACB, sessão July 19, 1915, 2:781-805; sessão Aug. 19, 1915, 9:1018. A labor newspaper claimed that more than 30 “libertarian” workers’ organizations had formed an anarchist alliance against the war and the draft. A Plebe, June 2, 1917, p. 4, in AEL.


Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (New York: Verso, 1991).


Bilac, A defesa national, 27.


Capt. Estevão Leitão de Carvalho, “O serviço militar obrigatório,” O Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo), Nov. 29, 1915, p. 1. For observations on similar rhetoric in another time, see Norman Hampson, “The French Revolution and the Nationalisation of Honour,” in War and Society: Historical Essays in Honour and Memory of J. R. Western, 1928-1971, ed. M. R. D. Foot (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973), 209.


Vanda Maria Ribeiro Costa, “Com rancor e efeito: rebeliões militares na década de 30” (FGV-CPDOC, 1984), 174-200.


RRMGu (Rio: Nacional, 1920), 31, cited in McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 235, n. 67.


Capt. Gerardo Lemos do Amaral, “Objeto de educação moral do soldado,” A defesa nacional (Sept. 1938), 295, cited in Ribeiro Costa, “Com rancor,” 175-76.


Lemos do Amaral, “Objeto de educação,” 291, cited in Ribeiro Costa, “Com rancor,” 176.


As early as 1890, the army had ordered the translation of the Italian Carlo Corsi’s work on a soldier’s moral education intended for officers, Educação moral do soldado (obra traduzida e adaptada às condições actuaes do exercito brasileiro . . .) (Rio: Imprensa Nacional, 1890). But in the 1920s and 1930s, new kinds of popular tracts appeared regularly; e.g., Alvaro Bittencourt, Guia prático do reservista ou o manual do recruta de mar e terra (Rio: J. Cardoso e Mello, 1928); Ranulfo Bocaiuva Cunha, O que os brasileiros decem saber sobre of servigo militar (Rio: Calvino Filho, 1933); Juray de Assis Machado, Tu e o serciço militar; alistamento, convocação, insubmissão, e deserção de praças (Porto Alegre: Livraria do Globo, 1941); Raul Tavares, Como ficar quite com o serciço militar, 5th ed. (Rio: Graph. Guarany Ltd., 1943). On the church, see Sacerdote Geraldo Antenor Pires de Sousa, Lança de David, páginas para nossas soldados (Petrópolis: Vozes, 1937). This tract included such sections as “Insidious Deserters,” “An Army Defeated by the Sin of One Soldier,” “Victorious over the Enemy but Defeated by Women,” and “The Height of Devotion, Immolating Oneself for Others.”


See crime data in Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” 550-51.


Oswaldo Barroso, Memórias de urn recruta (São Paulo: Monteiro Lobato, 1924), 92-93, 123-27, 190-91.


Ibid., 124.


Ibid., 150.


Barroso also observed that the dead, as well as officers and women, were called up. Ibid., 40.


Beattie, “Transforming Enlisted Army Service,” chap. 7. On contemporary recruitment, see Alfred C. Stepan, The Military in Politics: Changing Patterns in Brazil (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1971), chap. 1.


Barroso observed that praças with marriage certificates were allowed to live off base. Memórias, 152.


McCann, “Nation in Arms,” 231-41; “Sem os recursos materiais e sem os officiaes nos corpos o sorteio e uma burla,” A defesa nacional 55 (Apr. 1918), 197-205; Lt. Paulo Bastos, “Recrutas obtusos,” ibid. 58 (July 1918), 306-7; Col. Lobo Viana, “O sorteio militar em perigo . . .,” ibid. (July 1919), 343-49, and (Aug. 1919), 387-91; “Captura de insubmissos,” ibid. 83 (June 1920), 371-72.


One labor newspaper lamented exemptions for the wealthy and cited Bilac’s disappointment with the draft’s enforcement. “O pau furado,” A Plebe, Sept. 22, 1917, p. 2, in AEL. Washington Luiz made the mistake of calling up reservists in Rio de Janeiro during the 1930 Revolution, turning many Cariocas against his beleaguered government. Carone, A república velha, 2:435.


José Murilo de Carvalho, “Armed Forces and Politics in Brazil, 1930-45,” HAHR 62:2 (May 1092), 202.


War Minister Góes Monteiro suggested that the state should extend the draft to women in 1934, but his innovative idea was not pursued. Carvalho, “Armed Forces,” 202, 211. See also Carvalho, “As forças armadas na Primeira República: o poder desestabilizador,” Cadernos do Departamento de Ciência Político 1 (Belo Horizonte: Univ. de Belo Horizonte, 1973), 113-88.


Frank D. McCann, The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1973), 369-71. See also McCann, “The Forço Expedicionaria Brasileira in the Italian Campaign, 1944-45,” Army History 26 (Spring 1993), 1-11.


On recruitment difficulties, see Osvaldo Cordeiro de Farias, CFa 43.9.20, FGV-CPDOC, pasta III-1, 5-6. See also the many letters to the LBA asking for assistance and expressing pride in sons who were soldiers fighting for Brazil’s national honor. Ibid., pasta I.


On new confidence in the “hidden energies” of Brazil’s people, see “A simplicidade do praçinha,” Jornal do Brasil 22 (July 1945), 5; Joel Silveira and Thassilo Mitke, A luta dos praçinhas: a força expeditionária brasileira-FEB na II Guerra Mundial, 3d ed. (Rio: Ed. Record, 1993).


Cecil Cross, letter, cited and paraphrased in McCann, Brazilian-American Alliance, 441, n. 8.


Dain Borges, The Family in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1945 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1992). Other historians have noted that conceptions of female honor also slowly changed as more prosperous women began to take on new roles outside the home. See Sueann Caulfield, “In Defense of Honor: The Contested Meaning of Sexual Morality in Law and Courtship, Rio de Janeiro, 1920-1940” (Ph.D. diss., New York Univ., 1994), chap. 3; Caulfield and Esteves, “Fifty Years of Virginity,” 63-65.


I have not been able to date this transition precisely, but it coincided with the draft’s implementation.


Barbosa Lima Sobrinho, “O regresso da primeira escalão,” Jornal do Brasil (July 22, 1945). 5.


Susan K. Besse, “Crimes of Passion: The Campaign Against Wife Killing in Brazil, 1910-1940,” Journal of Social History 22:4 (Summer 1989), 653-66. For more contemporary cases see Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira, Leila Linhares Barsted, and Miguel Paiva, A violência doméstica (Rio: Institute de Ação Cultural, 1984).


Brian M. Downing’s work on the early modern period is suggestive of what might be done with conscription in the 1900s. The Military Revolution and Political Change: Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992).