When Brazil finally had the emancipation of Portugal declared, on the distant 7th of September 1822, Alagoas breathed the fresh air of Pernambuco’s own freedom, effective in 1817. Now, when the bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil is celebrated, celebrated on the 7th September, Alagoas intellectuals wonder what role an emerging province would have played in this period. “Has Alagoas had an effective participation in this very interesting topic? Or just residues of the historiography of a region hitherto peripheral?”, provokes the thinker Douglas Apratto.
To answer these questions, he resorts to the historical context of Brazil, Alagoas and the Northeast. Shortly before the emancipatory animosities, the region was experiencing a prosperous period, as a result of the excellent agricultural and industrial performance of the Northeast. The Royal Family, in turn, framed regional leaders, looking for money to pay salaries, clothes and court parties. However, despite the relative economic success of the Northeast, the regional industry could not withstand the increasingly excessive collection of taxes by the Portuguese crown. What triggered revolts and motivated the so-called Pernambuco Revolution, which was defeated militarily by the imperial forces. Some say, says the professor and historian, that the independence of Alagoas from Pernambuco was a reward for the region’s farmers for their loyalty to the crown during the Pernambuco uprising. But the state would still have other episodes in this plot that would culminate in the Independence of Brazil. “Imagine Alagoas in 1822. A recently emancipated captaincy, immersed in the climate of tension, of political instability that Brazil was going through. It was therefore difficult to organize its institutional equipment. With simple things like the introduction of printing in the province, a mere typography, which was denied by the court. At a time of difficult communications, the news of Ipiranga’s cry only arrived here a few weeks later”, narrates Douglas Apratto. Before that, however, D. Pedro I came to Alagoas, on June 28, 1822, to receive the title of Perpetual Defender of Brazil, a Freemasonry tribute adopted by the Senate of the Chamber of Rio de Janeiro. The choice of location is yet another indication of the importance of the tiny province, Vila das Alagoas, in the history of independence. The meeting to grant the honor to D. Pedro took place at the Igreja Matriz, with the participation of the government, clergy, war officers, militias and popular representatives.
According to Edberto Ticianeli, journalist and researcher at the História de Alagoas website, the meeting, which had the objective of demonstrating the respect of Alagoas to the Prince Regent, turned into a revolutionary uprising that demanded the removal of all Portuguese from the Alagoan government, with the exception of three, among them the commander of the capital’s line troops, João Eduardo Pereira Colaço.
“The independence movement turned the meeting into a rebellion. Thus, people surrounded the Igreja Matriz, alongside the corps of Tropa de Linha, which was in revolt, and another 400 mutinous volunteers under the command of Jerônimo Cavalcante de Albuquerque”, reads an excerpt from an article by Ticianeli.
“Alagoas still had a role in the moments that preceded Independence when it elected five deputies to the Brazilian Constituent Assembly. Craveiro Costa, in the book História das Alagoas, goes further. For him, the events of June 28 place Alagoas as the first insurgent province, that is, one that rose up against the crown and demanded a government formed by Brazilians, forcibly removing dozens of Portuguese from their functions.
Read more on page A10