Military Question of the 1880s

views updated

Military Question of the 1880s

The Military Question of the 1880s was a dispute concerning the right of Brazilian army officers to criticize government leaders in the press without the consent of the civilian war minister. Disgruntled with low pay and parsimonious defense funding, some officers violently intimidated their critics and dueled with politicians in polemic editorials. A few officers, rallied by Colonel Antônio de Sena Madureira's acerbic pen, committed a series of insubordinate acts to defy the war minister's censorship and defend the military's honor. The government attempted to punish these malcontents despite the Supreme Military Council's ruling that officers, like civilians, had a right to freedom of expression. Alienated by this and other imperial policies, officers toppled the monarchy in 1889, which was deeply unpopular with wealthy elites, Liberal politicians, and the general public. The military government under Field Marshal Manoel Deodoro da Fonseca issued many arbitrary decrees, held off a navy coup, and dissolved an uncooperative Congress. Generally unpopular, the army held onto power until 1894.

See alsoBrazil: 1808–1889; Fonseca, Manoel Deodoro da; Madureira, Antônio de Sena.


On the institutional causes of military unrest see William S. Dudley, "Professionalization and Politicization as Motivational Factors in the Brazilian Army Coup of 15 November, 1889," Journal of Latin American Studies 8:1 (May 1976): 101-125. For the events which precipitated the military question consult Raimundo Magalhães, Deodoro: A espada contra o império (1957).

Additional Bibliography

Alonso, Angela Maria. Idéias em movimento: A geração 1870 na crise do Brasil-Império. São Paulo: ANPOCS: Paz e Terra, 2002.

Castro, Celso. Os militares e a república: Um estudo sobre cultura e ação política. Rio de Janeiro: J. Zahar Editor, 1995.

                                           Peter M. Beattie

About this article

Military Question of the 1880s

Updated About content Print Article