A Radical with Fire and Sword
The Republicans did not have plans to start a revolution and would rather wait for the reform and live in peace with the monarchy, while it lasted. At least this is how Saldanha Marinho, a founder of the Republican Party had thought. But there were those who were more radical and, mainly between 1888 and 1889, fired up audiences with their speeches against the monarchy in meetings and in the press.
One of these radicals was Antonio da Silva Jardim, born in 1860 in the inlands of Rio de Janeiro, the son of a teacher of modest means who struggled to send her son to high school in Niteroi. In 1878, Silva Jardim entered São Paulo’s Law School and counted with his father's help to fund the studies, besides teaching Portuguese at a private school as a way to supplement his income.
The vocation of a polemicist of Silva Jardim began early, already in the first year of college. While still a student, he wrote his first literary works: Idéias de Moço (Ideas of a Boy) (1878) Gente do Mosteiro (People of the Monastery) (1879), a literary work in which he accuses his colleagues of being authoritarian and elitist; and Crítica de Escada Abaixo (Criticism Down the Stairs) (1880), in which he tries to follow the path to literary criticism, without much success.
In 1880 he becomes close to the Andrada family through courtship and marriage to Margaret Anne, daughter of the Counselor and head of the Liberal Party, Martim Francisco de Andrada, and that helped him get a job at A Tribuna Liberal (The Liberal Tribune Newspaper). Already a Republican, he contends that his participation in the monarchist newspaper is not politically biased but of a literary criticism nature, and therefore, would not be incompatible with his beliefs.
Acquaintanceship with the Andrada family subsequently resulted in an indication for a teaching position at Normal School, ultimately ensuring his financial independence. In 1885 Silva Jardim moved to Santos where he became the owner of a secondary school. While still in that city, he began to practice law defending slaves and actively participating in the abolitionist and republican campaign. In January 1888 he made his first public appearance as a great propagandist, in a meeting in Santos made in solidarity with the city councils of São Borja (RS), removed from office after a critical motion regarding perspectives of the Third Reign, and, since then Republican propaganda has become his only activity.
Being a staunch abolitionist, Jardim suffered strong influence from Positivism despite having broken ties with orthodoxy. His ideas stood out from the line defended by the Republican Party, outlined in the Manifesto of 1870: He defended the Republican dictatorship, a strong presidency, and didn’t agree with the extreme defense of political decentralization – and of the federation as well. He further argued that the parliamentary route could not be neglected in the fight for the Republic, but believed that this would not be the way to achieve victory. He insisted on holding conferences, meetings and mass rallies. He thought propaganda was the soul of the movement and himself as a tribune directly calling the masses, mobilizing popular feeling of aversion to monarchy - a mix of Desmoulins and Danton.
Jardim’s rallies often ended with the song La Marseillaise, originally a revolutionary battle song that had become the national anthem of France.
The need to call "the people" gave Silva Jardim democratizing ideas. He advocated the integration of black and white people who would become equal citizens in a republican regime; he fought against limits of census suffrage in the elections saying it was not possible to base citizenship on an income criterion which considered voters to be only 0.8% of the residents of the country. On the other hand, he saw the importance of bringing together different interests under the Republican umbrella ", hence the alliance with more conservative sectors of the movement, many of whom were disillusioned with the monarchy after the abolition.
The popular unrest was important to prepare what Jardim called Revolution, understood not as the "headquarters" inspired by South American warlords or civil war, but as a permanent mobilization of the population and in its pressure on the Throne. Only then would the Republic see that the best example of this expected revolution was the movement that led to the abdication of King Pedro I in 1831.
In the mid-1888’s, Jardim embarks on his first propaganda tour traveling through 27 cities in less than a month, taking the republican word to the north and west of São Paulo and part of Rio de Janeiro. In most places he finds receptivity and realizes that it increases markedly with May 13, which attributes to the betrayal committed by the monarchy against slave owners. He affirms, however, that the adherence of farmers to the republican cause could be justified by the Republic’s superiority and the good they would bring to the country.
Finally, he decides to move to the Court and actively participates in the republican campaign. His action is disqualified by abolitionists such as Joaquim Nabuco who accused Republicans agitators of betraying the abolition and establishing the Republic in unrighteousness, based on the defense of slavery.
Jardim was harshly criticized and prided himself for having his name engraved in the Quilombo do Jabaquara in São Paulo and of having acted as lawyer for slaves. But the Republic was worth everything to him, which justified the alliance with disappointed slaveholders. If until May 1888 Jardim was applauded and had good relations with the abolitionist movement, the same can not be said of the later period. His preaching in defense of the Republic became the preferred target of the Guarda Negra (Black Guard) - a militia formed by freed slaves soon after the abolition to defend the monarchy; its meetings have become actions of risk, with frequent interruptions and even death. In one occasion, Silva Jardim even pulled his gun amid the turmoil. In Bahia, he ran away to avoid being lynched by a mob shouting "Kill Jardim!”, and came to be viewed with suspicion by many black people.
To him, it was a mistake to oppose the Republic and Abolition. The issue was related to "calendar": once slave trade was abolished, as an attempt for the monarchy to sustain itself and bring about the Third Reign, now it was about giving the agonizing regime coup the grace, not to prolong the agony. The instrumentalization of the feeling of anger would not mean to support slave measures in an eventual republican regime. The abolition work could only be completed with the Republic that would turn everyone into citizens.
Controversies concerning Joaquim Nabuco and José do Patrocínio arise based on this context. José do Patrocínio was a historic Republican converted to the monarchic cause after May 13.
Also in the Republican field Jardim faced problems. The movement and the party, in particular, faced a division for some time. Issues such as federalism, separatism, military involvement in the process were reasons for disagreements among republicans. The party majority group of which Bocaiúva and Saldanha Marinho as well as Campos Sales and Prudente de Morais were part of, stayed true to the principles of the Manifesto of 1870, advocating federalism, the liberal republic and evolutionary path the taking of power. The conflict among those who defended the revolution and those who were supporters of evolution strengthened starting from 1888 with Silva Jardim assuming the leadership of so-called revolutionaries and with Quintino Bocaiúva representing the evolutionary line.
Jardim was important due to his individual actions in his meetings and press articles, however, he became a dangerous element by advocating revolution and discouraging the population. Therefore, he needed a "classification" which came with actions of the dome of the Republican Party. In October 1888, during his Federal Conference, the party guided the propagandists to make a cautious republican "preaching" in order not to provoke major incidents with supporters of the Monarchy who were in high spirits. However, Jardim disconsidered it and intensified his attacks on the regime. It reached a climax in December during lectures given in Rio, where there was confrontation between the republicans and the Black Guard. The organization of the meeting had already been questioned by the direction of the Republican Party, which had refused to support the meeting. Jardim defended himself in an open letter, taking charge of the movement and preparing his candidacy for the presidency of the Party.
In May 1889, he is defeated and Quintino Bocaiúva assumes the leadership of the Republican Party, causing Jardim to leave the new direction, which led him to isolation and jettisoning of the conspiracy that led to the proclamation of the Republic. Support to Jardim came from Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte and parts of Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Bahia and São Paulo. However, the largest portion of the party supported Bocaiúva, recognizing him as the leader of the republicans and accusing Jardim of being "king of dissent."
Despite his isolation, Jardim continues with the propaganda, planning a meeting against the Ouro Preto cabinet - newly sworn in and the last of the Empire - and a trip to the north of the country on the same steamer of Count of Eu, Princess Isabel’s husband and was facing tough opposing campaigns in these final years of the monarchy. The Republican Party did not authorize the organization of the meeting and Jardim retreated, but continued with the trip.
The Count of Eu had planned his trip to Amazonas, but Jardim wanted to stop in Pernambuco where he had strong allies. The trip was regarded as provocation by the party, which, however, had benefited itself from the unrests occurred in Bahia. In Recife, the Republicans launched a manifesto on July 19, scheduling a rally in a public square. The monarchists threatened to throw the Black Guard on the Republicans. The situation had become so bad that the local police chief signed a document in which he stated he could not ensure order in the city.
The meeting was canceled, but republicans claimed victory: the lack of security assurances by the police showed the loss of control of the monarchy. Upon cancellation of the rally, Silva Jardim decided to interrupt his trip. He believed that any incident could damage the republican movement and its position, as new meetings could be viewed as a sign of recklessness and barren radicalism.
Back to Rio de Janeiro, Jardim resumed his journalistic activities. The victories brought from the north were not enough to participate in the plans for the republic. He was called only at the last moment to "stir up the crowd." At City Hall he watched Patrocínio, reconciled with the Republic, “officially” proclaiming it (it was up to the youngest councilman to make the announcement of the fall of the offices).
The elections for the Constituent Assembly marked another defeat for Jardim: while competing for Rio, he saw his coalition composed of historian republicans on the ballot being hit by another, articulated by Deodoro. Disgusted with the route the new government was taking, he travels to Europe. In a letter to Alberto Torres, in March of 1891, he makes an analysis of the Brazilian political situation and complains about the "self-exile”. Still, he demonstrates the desire to participate again in the country's politics. There was no time for that. On July 1, 1891, on an excursion to Vesuvius, Jardim was swallowed by an open crack on the unstable ground. Dead, he was appropriated as a symbol by the Republic and won from José do Patrocínio , a former rival, his most famous epitaph: "beautiful grave the volcano is, the extraordinary fate of the great Brazilian, even upon his death he became lava”.
Maria Fernanda Lombardi Fernandes is a Professor of the Department of Political Science at the University of São Paulo (USP), has a PhD in Political Science and is an author of the thesis A Esperança e o Desencanto: Silva Jardim e a República ( Hope and Disenchantment: Silva Jardim and the Republic)
(RHBN. Nº 5. November 2005. PP. 42-45)