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Vasconcelos, Bernardo Pereira de (1795–1850)

Vasconcelos, Bernardo Pereira de (1795–1850)

Bernardo Pereira de Vasconcelos (b. 27 August 1795; d. 1 August 1850), Brazilian statesman. Born in Ouro Preto, Vasconcelos took his degree in Coimbra (1818) and returned to Brazil in 1820, soon beginning a career as a crown magistrate in São Paulo and Maranhão. He began his political career in the first legislature (1826). He achieved prominence in the conflicts of the Regency period (1831–1840). He helped lead the opposition to the First Reign's absolutist centralism, a struggle that led to Pedro I's abdication in 1831. Vasconcelos, a minister in the Regency's first cabinet, also figured importantly in the triumph of liberal moderates and consequent decentralizing reforms, notably the Additional Act of 1834. Later, ambition, social unrest, and secessionism thrust him into opposition to moderate Diogo Antônio Feijó, who was then serving as regent. He sought social order and national unity by identifying the crown's central power with the interests of the propertied classes. After Pedro I's death (1834), Vasconcelos allied the more conservative moderates to the first emperor's reactionary supporters. They formed a parliamentary majority that triumphed with the ascension of Regent Pedro de Araú jo Lima (later Marqués de Olinda) and the birth of the Conservative Party (1837).

This movement, known as the Regresso (reaction), pitted itself against the decentralist liberalism Vasconcelos had once championed. In conservative cabinets (1837 and 1839) and the Senate (after 1838), Vasconcelos, with Paulino José Soares de Sousa (later Viscount do Uruguai), reversed the earlier reforms. They promoted the Interpretation of the Additional Act (1840), reforms of the Criminal Code, and restoration of the Council of State (1841). The Liberal minority attempted to thwart this Conservative reversal by forcing the early majority of Pedro II, who then called them to power (1840). However, the Liberals' cabinet soon imploded, and the Conservative march resumed until the early 1850s, despite brief Liberal administrations and revolts. Vasconcelos, as a senator and councillor of state (1841), remained a preeminent conservative chieftain until his untimely death in 1850.

See alsoBrazil: 1808–1889 .


Roderick Barman, Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 1798–1852 (1989).

Thomas Flory, Judge and Jury in Imperial Brazil (1981).

Otávia Tarqüinio De Sousa, Bernardo Pereira de Vasconcelos e seu tempo (1937).

Additional Bibliography

Carvalho, José Murilho de, ed. Bernardo Pereira de Vasconcelos. São Paulo: Editora 34, 1999.

Costa, Emília Viotti da. The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

                                     Jeffrey D. Needell

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