Peçanha, Nilo Procópio (1867–1924)

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Peçanha, Nilo Procópio (1867–1924)

Nilo Procópio Peçanha (b. 2 October 1867; d. 31 March 1924), president of Brazil (June 1909–November 1910). Although born to a modest family of the imperial province of Rio de Janeiro, Peçanha enjoyed a rapid rise through the elite-dominated political system of Brazil's First Republic. Peçanha earned political stature while participating in the abolition and republican movements, and in the years following the 1889 Proclamation of the Republic he rose to serve as federal senator (1903) and governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro (1903–1905). He was elected vice president of Brazil in 1906; in 1909 Peçanha assumed the presidency upon the death of President Afonso Pena.

A fiscal conservative, but also a strong advocate of a diversified economy, Peçanha was a noted proponent of the establishment of steel production, technical education, agronomics, and the early repayment of the 1898 funding loan. In spite of his calls for diversification, however, coffee production remained the prime motor of the Brazilian economy throughout Peçanha's political career. As president, Peçanha ordered federal intervention into political crises in Bahia and Amazonas. In 1910 he stepped down from the presidency amid charges that President-elect Marshal Hermes da Fonseca defeated civilista candidate Rui Barbosa through electoral fraud. Peçanha remained in politics, serving as governor of Rio (1914–1917), foreign minister (1917–1918), and senator (1918–1924). In 1921 he led the unsuccessful Reação Republicana (Republican Reaction) presidential campaign against Artur da Silva Bernardes.

See alsoBrazil, The Empire (First); Rio de Janeiro (Province and State).


Brigido Tinoco, A vida de Nilo Peçanha (1962).

Robert E. Russell, Nilo Peçanha and Fluminense Politics, 1889–1917 (1974).

Additional Bibliography

Ferreira, Marieta de Moraes. Em busca da idade de ouro: As elites políticas fluminenses na Primeira República, 1889–1930. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFRJ: Edições Tempo Brasileiro, 1994.

Quaresma, Quélia H. "Electoral Mobilization and the Construction of a Civic Culture in Brazil, 1909–1930." Ph.D. diss., 1998.

Topik, Steven. The Political Economy of the Brazilian State, 1889–1930. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987.

                                        Daryle Williams