Osório, Manuel Luís (1808–1879)

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Osório, Manuel Luís (1808–1879)

Manuel Luís Osório (b. 10 May 1808; d. 4 October 1879), Brazilian military hero and politician. The son of a modest rancher, Osório overcame his relatively humble origin and almost complete lack of formal education to become one of his country's greatest military figures and leading Liberal politicians. His military career began with his participation as a low-ranking officer in the Cisplatine War (1825–1828). In the Farroupilha Revolt (1835–1845), his distinguished service on the Loyalist side caught the attention of the military commander and sped his rise through the ranks. By 1852 he was entrusted with the command of the Brazilian division sent to Argentina to combat Juan Manuel de Rosas. He also led the Brazilian force that occupied Montevideo in 1864. When the War of the Triple Alliance broke out the following year, Osório was in charge of the Brazilian military contingent, coordinating the first wave of attacks on Paraguayan forces with the Argentine Bartolomé Mitre. After leading his troops to a series of victories, Osório was wounded twice and left the front. On both occasions he returned to battle after short periods of recovery. In the midst of that war, he uttered his famous phrase: "It is easy to command free men; it is enough to show them the path of duty."

As reward for his service, he received titles of nobility, being named first baron, then viscount, and finally marquês de Erval. At the close of the Farroupilha Revolt he served in the provincial legislature of his native Rio Grande do Sul. In 1862 he helped found a reformulated Liberal Party in that province and later won a seat in the national Senate. A year after achieving his country's highest military rank in 1877, Osório assumed the post of minister of war in the Sinimbú cabinet, a position he held until his death.

See alsoBrazil: 1808–1889; Farroupilha Revolt; Rosas, Juan Manuel de; War of the Triple Alliance.


Joseph L. Love, Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism, 1882–1930 (1972).

Helga I. L. Piccolo, A política rio-grandense no II Império (1868–1882) (1974).

João Baptista Magalhães, Osório: Síntese de seu perfil histórico (1978).

                                          Roger A. Kittleson