Brazilian Independence

Brazilian Declaration of Independence

The Independence Day of Brazil (Portuguese: Dia da Independência), commonly called Sete de Setembro (English: 7th of September), is a national holiday observed in Brazil on September 7 of every year. The date celebrates Brazil's Declaration of Independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822.


With the invasion of Portugal by the French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807, Prince Regent John VI ordered the transfer of the Portuguese Court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro - then capital of the Colony of Brazil. In 1815, John VI created the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, elevating Brazil to the rank of kingdom and increasing the administrative independence of Brazil.

A political revolution erupted in Portugal in 1820, forcing John VI and the royal family to return to Portugal. The heir of John VI, Prince Pedro, remained in Brazil. In 1821, the Portuguese Assembly demanded Brazil to return to its former condition of colony and the return of the heir to Portugal. Prince Pedro, influenced by the Rio de Janeiro Senate (Senado da Câmara) refused to return to Portugal in the famous Dia do Fico (January 9, 1822).

On September 2, 1822, a new decree with demands from Lisbon arrived in Rio de Janeiro, while Prince Pedro was in São Paulo. Princess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, acting as Princess Regent, met with Council of Ministers and decided to send her husband the news, along with a letter advising him to proclaim Brazil's independence. The letter reached Prince Pedro on September 7, 1822. That same day, in a famous scene at the shore of the Ipiranga River, he declared the country's independence, ending 322 years of colonial dominance of Portugal over Brazil.


Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays.

In Brasília the celebration takes place at the Ministries Esplanade with a military parade in the presence of the President of Brazil. Similar military parades are held in all the state capitals, and in many cities throughout the country.


Path to Independence

Portuguese Cortes


In 1820 the Constitutionalist Revolution erupted in Portugal. The movement initiated by the liberal constitutionalists resulted in the meeting of the Cortes (or Constituent Assembly), that would have to create the kingdom’s first constitution. The Cortes at the same time demanded the return of King Dom João VI, who had been living in Brazil since 1808, and who nominated his son and heir prince Dom Pedro as regent in his place on 7 March 1821. The king left for Europe on April 26, while Dom Pedro remained in Brazil governing it with the aid of the ministers of the Kingdom (Interior) and Foreign Affairs, of War, of Navy and of Finance.

The Portuguese military officers headquartered in Brazil were completely sympathetic to the constitutionalist movement in Portugal. The main leader of the Portuguese officers, General Jorge Avilez, forced the prince to dismiss and banish from the country the ministers of Kingdom and Finance. Both were loyal allies of Pedro, who had become a pawn in the hands of the military. The humiliation suffered by the prince, who swore he would never yield to the pressure of the military again, would have a decisive influence on his abdication ten years later.[9] Meanwhile, on September 30, 1821, the Cortes approved a decree that subordinated the Brazilian provincial governments directly to Portugal. Prince Pedro became for all purposes only the governor of the province of Rio de Janeiro. Other decrees that came after ordered his return to Europe and also extinguished the judicial courts created by João VI in 1808.

Dissatisfaction over the Cortes' measures among most residents in Brazil (both Brazilian-born and Portuguese-born) rose to a point that it soon became publicly known.[14] Two groups that opposed the Cortes' actions to gradually undermine the Brazilian sovereignty appeared: Liberals led by Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo (which had the support of the Freemasons) and the Bonifacians led by José Bonifácio de Andrada. Both factions had nothing in common in their goals for Brazil, with the sole exception of their desire to keep the country united with Portugal as a sovereign monarchy.

Avilez rebellion

The Portuguese deputies of the Cortes showed no respect towards the prince and openly mocked him. Thus, the loyalty that Pedro had towards the Cortes gradually shifted to the Brazilian cause. His wife, princess Leopoldina of Habsburg, favored the Brazilian side and influenced him on remaining in the country.[ The Liberals and Bonifacians made open manifestations asking for his permanence. Pedro's reply came in 9 January 1822, who, according to newspapers, spoke: “As it is for the good of all and for the nation’s general happiness, I am ready: Tell the people that I will stay”.

After Pedro's decision to defy the Cortes, around 2,000 men led by Jorge Avilez rioted before concentrating on mount Castelo, which was soon surrounded by 10,000 armed Brazilians. Dom Pedro then "dismissed" the Portuguese commanding general and ordered him to remove his soldiers across the bay to Niterói, where they would await transport to Portugal.

Jose Bonifácio was nominated minister of Kingdom and Foreign Affairs in 18 January 1822. Bonifácio soon established a father-like relationship with Pedro, who began to consider the experienced statesman his greatest ally. Gonçalves Ledo and the liberals tried to minimize the close relationship between Bonifácio and Pedro offering to the prince the title of Perpetual Defender of Brazil. For the liberals, the meeting of a Constituent Assembly for Brazil was necessary, while the Bonifacians preferred that Pedro grant the constitution himself to prevent a possible similar anarchy as the one that occurred during the first years of the French Revolution. The prince acquiesced to the liberals’ desires and signed a decree in 3 June 1822 calling for the election of the deputies that would gather in the Constituent and Legislative General Assembly in Brazil.

From United Kingdom to independent Empire

Pedro departed to São Paulo to assure the province’s loyalty to the Brazilian cause. He reached its capital on 25 August and remained there until 5 September. When returning to Rio de Janeiro on 7 September he received mail from José Bonifácio and his wife Leopoldina. The prince learned that the Cortes had annulled all acts from the Bonifácio cabinet and removed the remaining power he still had. Pedro turned to his companions that included his Guard of Honor and spoke: “Friends, the Portuguese Cortes want to enslave and pursue us. From today on our relations are broken. No ties unite us anymore” and continued after he pulled out his blue-white armband that symbolized Portugal: “Armbands off, soldiers. Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil”. He unsheathed his sword affirming that "For my blood, my honor, my God, I swear to give Brazil freedom" and cried out: “Independence or death!

When arriving in the city of São Paulo on the night of September 7, 1822, Pedro and his fellow companions had spread the notice of the Brazilian independence from Portugal. The Prince was received with great popular celebration and was called “King of Brazil” but also “Emperor of Brazil”. Pedro returned to Rio de Janeiro on September 14 and in the following days the liberals had spread pamphlets (written by Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo) that suggested the idea that the Prince should be acclaimed Constitutional Emperor.[33] In September 17 the President of the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro, José Clemente Pereira, sent to the other Chambers of the country the news that the Acclamation would occur in the anniversary of Pedro in October 12. On the following day the new flag and arms of the independent Kingdom of Brazil were created (The Imperial flag and arms created later in October 12 were identical to those with the exception of the crown that from Royal became Imperial).

The official separation would only occur on September 22, 1822 in a letter written by Pedro to João VI. In it, Pedro still calls himself Prince Regent and his father is considered the King of the independent Brazil. On October 12, 1822, in the Field of Santana (later known as Field of the Acclamation) Prince Pedro was acclaimed Dom Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. It was at the same time the beginning of Pedro's reign and also of the Empire of Brazil. However, the Emperor made it clear that although he accepted the emperorship, if João VI returned to Brazil he would step aside from the throne in favor of his father.

The reason for the imperial title was derived from the fact that the title of king would symbolically mean a continuation of the Portuguese dynastic tradition and perhaps of the feared absolutism. While emperor derived from the popular acclamation as in Ancient Rome. In December 1, 1822 (anniversary of the acclamation of João IV, first King of the House of Braganza) Pedro I was crowned and consecrated.