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Bernardes, Artur da Silva (1875–1955)

Bernardes, Artur da Silva (1875–1955)

Artur da Silva Bernardes (b. 8 August 1875; d. 23 March 1955), president of Brazil (1922–1926). Bernardes was born in Viçosa, Minas Gerais, the son of a Portuguese solicitor. He attended the Lazarist school in Caracas and studied law in Ouro Prêto, where he was a leader in the Bucha, a secret student society inspired by the German Burchenschaft. After completing his studies, he returned to Viçosa to work as a lawyer, and in 1903 he married Clélia Vaz de Melo.

Bernardes began his political career in the early 1900s, holding various posts in Minas Gerais, including president of the municipal chamber, chief executive of Viçosa, and state deputy. Between 1909 and 1915, he served as a federal deputy. As his political career advanced, Bernardes became the secretary of finances for the state of Minas Gerais in 1910, serving until 1914. Four years later, he was elected governor of Minas Gerais.

Elected president of Brazil in 1922, Bernardes, however, ruled the country under a state of siege during most of his presidency, with challenges coming from both the Right and the Left. The most celebrated opposition faction was led by the Communist revolutionary leader Luís Carlos Prestes.

President Bernardes implemented constitutional reforms that strengthened executive powers and sought reductions in public expenditures. He withdrew Brazil from the League of Nations in 1926 because it refused to admit Germany as a member nation.

After his presidential term ended, Bernardes (a senator from 1929 to 1932) helped organize the unsuccessful Constitutionalist Revolution against Getúlio Vargas in 1930. He was exiled to Portugal in 1932 for five years. Elected federal deputy upon his return to Brazil, Bernardes continued his nationalistic campaign in which he advocated exploitation of the country's natural resources solely by Brazilians. He lost reelection in 1937 but returned to politics in 1945, when he organized the political party União Democrática Nacional (UDN). Soon after, however, he broke with this party and founded the Partido Republicano (PR), of which he was president until his death in 1955.

See alsoBrazil, Political Parties: National Democratic Union of Brazil (UDN); Republican Party (PR).


Neves Fontoura, A Aliança Liberal e a Revolução de 1930 (1963); Almanaque Abril (1994).

                                   IÊda Siqueira Wiarda

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