Morais Barros, Prudente José de (1841–1902)

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Morais Barros, Prudente José de (1841–1902)

Prudente José de Morais Barros (b. 4 October 1841; d. 3 December 1902), president of Brazil (1894–1898). Morais rose to political prominence as a distinguished provincial legislator representing São Paulo's Partido Republicano Paulista, the most important Republican party of the Brazilian Empire. As a legislator, Morais was a strong advocate of coffee planters' rights and foreign immigration. Following the proclamation of the Republic on 15 November 1889, Morais served as the first republican governor of São Paulo, subse-quently rising to national distinction as the president of the Constituent Assembly of 1891. In March 1894 Morais became the first civilian president of the fledgling republic. While serving as president, Morais promoted the economic and political interests of São Paulo.

The Morais presidency was characterized by the slow and painful consolidation of the decentralized, federalist political system sought by the most powerful state Republican parties. The consolidation of stable civilian rule was hampered by a civil war in Rio Grande do Sul (1893–1895) and several revolts. By far, the most famous armed insurrection centered in Canudos, Bahia, where state and federal troops experienced enormous difficulties in subduing the ragtag sertanejo followers of the self-proclaimed prophet, Antônio Conselheiro. Morais himself narrowly escaped death in a failed assassination attempt made by a disgruntled federal soldier returning from Canudos. Morais later used the attempt on his life to justify clamping down on political opponents.

Amid these political upheavals, a serious economic crisis prompted the federal government to secure the 1898 funding loan, which primarily aided the powerful coffee interests of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Nevertheless, inflation, high prices, and low wages meant that few Brazilians prospered under Morais. But, despite these political and economic difficulties, when Morais stepped down from office in 1898, he was celebrated as the leader who pacified the Republic. In poor health, Morais returned to São Paulo, where he died four years later.

See alsoSertão, Sertanejo .


Raúl Alves da Souza, História política dos governos da república (1927), pp. 55-74.

E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (1980).

José Eugênio de Paula Assis, Prudente de Morais, sua vida e sua obra (1976).

Joseph L. Love, São Paulo in the Brazilian Federation, 1889–1937 (1980), pp. 104-114.

Additional Bibliography

Dobroruka, Vicente. Antônio Conselheiro, o beato endiabrado de Canudos. Rio de Janeiro: Diadorim, 1997.

Perissinotto, Renato M. Classes dominantes e hegemonia na República Velha. Campinas, SP, Brazil: Editora da UNICAMP, 1994.

São Paulo Assembléia Legislativa. Prudente de Moraes: Parlamentar da Província de São Paulo (1868–1889). São Paulo, Brazil: Imprensa Oficial, 2004.

                                    Daryle Williams

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Morais Barros, Prudente José de (1841–1902)

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