Luís Pereira de Sousa, Washington (1870–1957)

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Luís Pereira de Sousa, Washington (1870–1957)

Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa (b. 26 October 1870; d. 4 August 1957), president of Brazil (1926–1930). Although known as the consummate defender of the political and economic interests of the state of São Paulo, Luís was born and schooled in the state of Rio de Janeiro. After moving to São Paulo in 1888, Luís steadily rose within São Paulo's political circles, serving as state deputy (1904–1906, 1912–1913), state secretary of justice (1906–1914), mayor of the city of São Paulo (1914–1919), governor of the state of São Paulo (1920–1924), and senator (1924–1926). In 1926 Luís was elected president of Brazil. He remained president until October 1930, when he was forced from office and into exile during the one-month civil war later known as the Revolution of 1930.

Luís was one of the most prominent members of the Partido Republicano Paulista (PRP), and his political career was representative of the oligarchicled politics of Brazil's First Republic (1889–1930). He was a fiscal conservative who promoted state autonomy (particularly for the state of São Paulo) and economic policies favorable to coffee cultivation, nascent industrialization, and infrastructural improvements (especially in rail and roads). An advocate of stricter policing and opponent of organized labor, Luís coined the republican elite's dictum that the social question was a police question. However, his close association with the oligarchic interests of the First Republic also proved to be his downfall, as Luís failed to convince the reformist interests from Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul supporting Getúlio Vargas's 1930 presidential candidacy that Luís's hand-picked successor, paulista Júlio Prestes, could best manage Brazil's extremely precarious position amidst the onset of the Great Depression. During the Revolution of 1930, Luís and President-elect Prestes were stripped of their political powers and Vargas became chief of the provisional government. Exiled, Luís lived in Europe and the United States. Upon returning to Brazil in 1947, Luís remained far from politics, concentrating his energies on his personal life and his interest in paulista history and culture.

See alsoBrazil: Revolutions: Revolution of 1930; São Paulo (State).


Joseph L. Love, São Paulo in the Brazilian Federation, 1889–1937 (1980).

"Luís, Washington," in Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983, vol. 3 (1984), pp. 1,952-1,955.

Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964: An Experiment in Democracy (1967), pp. 1-8.

Additional Bibliography

Debes, Célio. Washington Luís. São Paulo: Imprensa Oficial do Estado, Instituto Histórico e Geográfico de São Paulo, 1994.

Pereira, Robson Mendonça. Washington Luís e a modernizaçáo de Batatais. São Paulo: FAPESP, Annablume, 2005.

                                        Daryle Williams

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Luís Pereira de Sousa, Washington (1870–1957)

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