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Manuel Deodoro Da Fonseca


FONSECA, MANUEL DEODORO DA soldier and first president of the United States of Brazil, was born in Alagoas, on Aug. 5, 1827, the third son of a Brazilian army officer. He received his education in the military school at Rio de Janeiro and his military experience at the siege of Monte video (1864) and in the war. against Solano Lopez, dictator of Paraguay (1864-7o). His courage gained him distinction, and in rapid succession he became colonel (1869), brigadier-general (1874) and general of division in 1884. Soon afterward he was appointed governor of the province of Rio Grande do Sul and turned his attention to politics, but was soon removed from his position because he used his authority to foster republican senti ments. In 1887 (May 14), with General Pelotas, he signed a manifesto in defence of officers' political rights, which gained him the loyalty of the army and the opprobrium of the government. In Dec. 1888, he was assigned to the command of an army corps in the remote interior. When he returned to the capital in Sept. 1889, conditions were ripe for a republican revolt, and he was prevailed upon to head an armed revolution against the govern ment (Nov. 15, 1889). The troops in the capital sided with the insurgents, and with scarcely any bloodshed the huge empire of Pedro II. collapsed. The army and navy rallied to the new cause, a republic was proclaimed, and on Nov. 17 the emperor and his family were banished from the country. The leaders of the coup d'etat formed a provisional government with Fonseca at its head, declared martial law, and effectively stamped out any armed resistance. In Jan. 1891, a constitutional assembly con vened, adopted a Federal constitution and on Feb. 25, 1891 elected Fonseca constitutional president of the republic. But he had not the political skill to control the situation. He quarrelled with congress (May), dissolved it (Nov. 4), declared martial law and assumed dictatorial powers. He alienated his party by his arbitrary severity and by increasing issues of irredeemable paper money. When a revolt broke out in Rio Grande do Sul, which spread to other provinces, the army and navy forsook him; and on Nov. 23, 1891, he resigned his office and retired to private life. He died at Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 23, 1892. An able soldier, he lacked the essential flexibility and decision of the politician, and consequently did not leave that mark on pos terity, which his high qualities deserved. (W. B. P.)

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