Rodrigues Alves, Francisco de Paula (1848–1919)

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Rodrigues Alves, Francisco de Paula (1848–1919)

Francisco de Paula Rodrigues Alves (b. 7 July 1848; d. 16 January 1919), president of Brazil (1902–1906). Allied by birth and through marriage with the coffee-producing elites of São Paulo, Rodrigues Alves graduated from São Paulo Law School in 1870. A Conservative in his youth, he joined the Republican Party after the 1889 overthrow of the monarchy and helped to write the 1891 constitution. He later served as senator, minister of finance, and governor of São Paulo.

Rodrigues Alves's presidency exemplified both positive and negative aspects of the Brazilian drive for "order and progress." A sound treasury and the appointment of men of ability to office enabled a successful campaign to transform Rio de Janeiro into a beautiful and healthful capital. A central boulevard and new municipal buildings, including the Municipal Theater and National Library, were built. Port facilities and rail lines were modernized. Oswaldo Cruz, director of public health, waged a vigorous campaign to improve sanitation and eradicate pestilence; by 1906 yellow fever deaths had dropped to zero in the city.

Resistance to the sanitation and reconstruction campaigns, in which poor inhabitants of the central city were displaced, was reinforced by the regime's political opponents. In November 1904 the issue of compulsory vaccination for smallpox precipitated riots. Several hundred people suspected of participating in the riots were summarily rounded up and sent to the new Brazilian territory of Acre. Opposition leaders and students from the Praia Vermelha Military School who were involved were arrested but later granted amnesty.

Brazil enjoyed increased international prestige during Rodrigues Alves's administration. In 1903 Foreign Minister Barão do Rio Branco resolved the dispute with Bolivia over the territory of Acre in Brazil's favor; in 1905 the first cardinal in Latin America was appointed to Rio de Janeiro; and the Third International Conference of American States convened there in 1906. After leaving the presidency, Rodrigues Alves served again as governor of São Paulo (1912–1916), and in 1918 he was reelected to the presidency, but was too ill to assume office.

See alsoDiseases; Petropólis.


José Maria Bello, A History of Modern Brazil 1889–1964 (1966).

Gilberto Freyre, Order and Progress: Brazil from Monarchy to Republic (1970).

Additional Bibliography

Arinos de Melo Franco, Afonso. Rodrigues Alves: Apogeu e declínio do presidencialismo. Brasília: Senado Federal, 2001.

Meade, Teresa A. "Civilizing" Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889–1930. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.

                                     Francesca Miller

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Rodrigues Alves, Francisco de Paula (1848–1919)

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