Cotegipe, Barão de (1815–1889)

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Cotegipe, Barão de (1815–1889)

Barão de Cotegipe (João Mauricio Wanderley; b. 23 October 1815; d. 13 February 1889), Brazilian politician. Cotegipe was identified with Bahian politics and slavocratic sugar interests throughout his life. After graduating from the Olinda Law Faculty in Pernambuco in 1837, Cotegipe set out on the path that eventually made him the archetypal imperial mandarin. He moved up steadily through the political ranks, holding a county judgeship and a variety of provincial elected offices before becoming a national deputy in the early 1840s. By 1856 he was a senator from Bahia, and a member of the cabinet. An important chieftain of the pro-slavery national Conservative Party, Cotegipe was himself a slave owner and a holder of several sugar plantations, all inherited by his wife, a daughter of the Conde de Passé, perhaps the richest planter in Bahia Province. In 1875 Cotegipe, then serving as minister of finance, authored the landmark legislation (Decree no. 2687 of 6 November 1875) that created the agricultural credit guaranteeing 7 percent interest on all investments to create the modern sugar mill complex, or engenho central. In 1885 Cotegipe became prime minister. His Conservative government, finally facing up to the reality that slavery in Brazil could not continue forever, introduced the Saraiva-Cotegipe Law of 1885 that freed all slaves over sixty-five years old, thereby immediately manumitting 120,000 older slaves. Typical of many imperial mandarins, Cotegipe was a poor businessman when it came to looking after his own interests and died poor, months before the monarchy was overthrown by a discontented army.

See alsoBrazil: The Empire (Second); Slavery: Brazil.


Sacramento Augusto Victorino Alves Blake, Diccionario bibliographico brasileiro, 7 vols. (1897).

José Wanderley Pinho, Cotegipe e seu tempo: Primeiro phase, 1815–1867 (1937), and História de um engenho do Recôncavo, 1552–1944 (1946).

Eul-Soo Pang, In Pursuit of Honor and Power: Noblemen of the Southern Cross in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (1988).

                                        Eul-Soo Pang