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Castilhos, Júlio de (1860–1903)

Castilhos, Júlio de (1860–1903)

Júlio Prates de Castilhos (b. 29 June 1860; d. 24 October 1903) was a Brazilian statesman and founder of the positivist dictatorship of Rio Grande do Sul. A graduate of the São Paulo law school, Castilhos agitated for a federal republican regime as the editor of Rio Grande's republican newspaper. He led the state delegation at the federal constituent assembly following the collapse of the Empire of Brazil in 1889. Returning to Porto Alegre, he imposed an authoritarian state constitution. Castilhos was elected governor in 1891, but was deposed for supporting Manoel Deodoro da Fonseca's failed coup. Castilhos's countercoup and second election in 1893 provoked a major but unsuccessful rebellion (1893–1895) by the Liberals (later called the Federalists). The governor left office in 1898, but continued to rule through his highly disciplined Republican Party until his early death from cancer in 1903.

Castilhos's state constitution, in effect till 1930, gave the governor decree power on all issues except setting the budget, and allowed him to serve indefinitely. The document was inspired by Auguste Comte (1798–1857), who had believed scientific laws would soon explain all social behavior, and that a "monocrat" should preside over the transition to the "positive" stage of history. Despite his authoritarianism, Castilhos's policies were progressive concerning rural land taxation and public education, and on these matters Rio Grande led the nation.

Castilhos's triumph over the Liberals also resulted in an economic power shift, diminishing the political influence of ranchers and raising that of farmers and industrialists. Even labor, by 1917, would receive some redress for low wages from the paternalistic government of Antônio Augusto Borges de Medeiros, Castilhos's successor. Borges used Castilhos's regime to rule the state from Castilhos's death until 1930, and most of that time served as governor.

See alsoBorges de Medeiros, Antônio Augusto; Brazil, The Empire (Second); Fonseca, Manoel Deodoro da.


Axt, Gunter, et al., eds. Júlio de Castilhos e o paradoxo republicano. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Nova Prova, 2005.

Franco, Sérgio da Costa. Júlio de Castilhos e sua época. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora Globo, 1967.

Love, Joseph L. Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism, 1882–1930. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1971. See chapters 2-4.

                                          Joseph L. Love

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