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DECREE of the Prince Regent, convoking a General Constituent and Legislative Assembly for Brazil.-3d June, 1822. (Translation.)
THE General Representatives of some of the Provinces of Brazil, already assembled in this City, and different Magistracies and People of other Cities, having represented to me how necessary and urgent it has become, for the maintenance of the integrity of the Portuguese Monarchy, and the proper dignity of Brazil, to convoke a Luso-Brazilian Assembly, which, being invested with that portion of the Sovereignty essentially inherent in the People of this great and rich Continent, shall settle the bases whereon is to be established the Independence which Nature has designed for it, and which it has already possessed, and its union with all the other integral Parts of the great Portuguese Family, which is so cordially desired; and, acknowledging on my part, the truth and the force of the reasons that have been expounded to me, and seeing no other mode of assuring the felicity of this Kingdom, of maintaining a just equality of rights between it and Portugal, without disturbing the peace which is so necessary to both, and so fitting to two Nations that are Brothers; I am pleased, with the advice of my Council of State, to order the convocation of a General Constituent and Legislative Assembly, to be composed of Deputies of the Provinces of Brazil, elected according to the Instructions to be settled in the Council, and which shall be published without delay.
Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, of my Council of State, and Councillor of His Most Faithful Majesty, Lord Don John the VIth, and my Minister and Secretary of State for the Kingdom of Brazil and Foreign Affairs, will so understand it, and cause it to be carried into effect with the necessary Orders.
Palace, 3d June, 1822.
[With the initials of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent.] JOSE BONIFACIO DE ANDRADA E SILVA.
MANIFESTO of the Constitutional Prince Regent, and
THE time for deceiving Mankind is at an end. The Governments that still wish to found their power upon the pretended ignorance of the People, or upon ancient errors and abuses, will see the colossus of their greatness fall from the fragile base on which it was built in other times. From not thinking in this manner, it has happened, that the Cortes of Lisbon have driven the Provinces of the South of Brazil to shake off the yoke that was preparing for them. From not thinking in
this manner, it is, that I now see ali Brazil united around me, requiring of me the defence of its Rights, and the maintenance of its Liberty and Independence. It behoves me therefore to speak the truth to you, Brazilians-Listen to me, then.
The Congress of Lisbon having arrogated to itself the tyrannical right to impose an article of new belief, founded upon a partial and promissory oath, upon Brazil, which could in no way involve the approbation of its own ruin, compelled it to examine that assumed authority, and to recognize the injustice of such unbecoming pretensions. This examination, which their insulted reason recommended and required, proved to the Brazilians that Portugal, destroying all established forms, changing all the ancient and respectable Institutions of the Monarchy, passing the sponge of moral oblivion over all its relations, and reconstituting itself anew, could not compel them to accept a dishonourable and degrading system, without attacking those very principles whereon was founded their Revolution, and the right to change their Political Institutions; without destroying that basis on which were established their new Rights, the inalienable Rights of Mankind, without embarrassing the march of reason and of justice, whose Laws are derived from the very nature of things, but never from the private caprices of Individuals.
The Southern Provinces of Brazil, uniting therefore together, and assuming the majestick attitude of a People, which distinguishes amongst its rights those of liberty and its own happiness, cast their eyes upon me, the Son of their King, and their friend; and, looking at this rich and great portion of our Globe in its true point of view; and knowing the talents of its Inhabitants, and the immense resources of its soil; I saw with pain the erroneous and tyrannical proceedings of those who so falsely and prematurely had taken the name of Fathers of the Country, attempting to be not only Representatives of the People of Portugal, but Sovereigns of all the vast Portuguese Monarchy; and I judged it unworthy of me, and of the great King whose Son and Delegate I am, to disregard the wishes of those faithful Subjects, who, repressing perhaps Republican desires and propensities, have turned from the fascinating example of some neighbouring People, and have deposited in me all their hopes; thereby to preserve Royalty in this great American Continent, and the acknowledged rights of the August House of Braganza.
I acceded to their generous and sincere wishes, and have remained in Brazil, making our good King acquainted with this my firm resolution; in the persuasion that this step would be for the Cortes of Lisbon the thermometer of the disposition of Brazil, of her well-understood dignity, and of the new elevation of her sentiments; that it would make them stop in the career they had begun, and return to the path of justice, from which they had departed. Thus reason commanded; but the wild views of egotism continued to stifle its voice, and
precepts, and discord pointed out new deceits: then, as was to have been expected, the resentment and indignation of the leagued Provinces were aroused, and, as if by a sort of magick, all ideas and sentiments, converged towards the same point, were directed to one single end. Without the noise of arms, without the cries of anarchy, they requested of me, as the guarantee of their precious liberty and national honour, the speedy Installation of a General Constituent and Legislative Assembly in Brazil. Much did I desire to defer that moment, to see whether the vanity of the Cortes of Lisbon would give way to the voice of reason, of justice, and of their own interest; but the Order issued by them, and transmitted to the Portuguese Consuls, to prohibit the clearing out of Arms and Ammunition for Brazil, was a signal for War, and an actual commencement of hostilities.
This Kingdom, which had already declared Me its perpetual Defender, then insisted that I should provide in the most prompt and energetick manner for its security, honour, and prosperity. Had I failed in my resolution, I should have broken, on the one hand, my sacred promises, and, on the other, who could have been able to stay the evils of Anarchy, the dismemberment of the Provinces, and the frenzy of Democracy?
What an obstinate struggle between the inveterate and bloody Parties, between a thousand successive and opposing Factions! To whom would have belonged the gold and diamonds of our inexhaustible Mines, those mighty Rivers which are the strength of States,—that prodigious fertility the inestimable fountain of riches and prosperity ? Who could have calmed so many dissentient Parties; who would have civilized our wide spread Population, separated by so many Rivers, or rather Seas? Who would then communicate with our Indians, in the centre of their impenetrable Forests, across the highest and most inaccessible Mountains? Certainly, Brazilians, Brazil would have been torn in pieces; this great Work of beneficent Nature, which is the envy and admiration of the Nations of the World, and the benevolent intentions of Providence, would be defeated, or at least retarded, for many Years.
I was responsible for all these evils, for the blood that was about to be spilled, and for the victims that would infallibly be sacrificed to the passions, and to private interests. I formed my resolution, therefore; I took the part which the People desired; and I directed the Assembly of Brazil to be convoked, in order to cement the Political Independence of this Kingdom, without, however, breaking the ties of Portuguese Fraternity; harmonizing, with decorum and justice, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve, and preserving under the same Chief two Families, separated by immense Seas, who can only live united by bonds founded on an equality of rights and reciprocal interests.
Brazilians! it is unnecessary to remind you of all the evils to
which you were subject, which impelled you to the Representation made to me by the Magistracy and People of this City, on the 23rd of May, and which gave rise to my Royal Decree of the 3d of June, of the present Year: but the respect we owe to Mankind, requires that we explain the reasons of your proceedings, and of my conduct. The history of the acts of the Congress of Lisbon towards Brazil presents a tissue of incessant injustice and unreasonableness. Their object was to paralyze the prosperity of Brazil, to consume its vitality, and to reduce it to such a state of inanition and weakness, that its ruin and subjugation should be inevitable. That the World may be convinced of this truth, it is only necessary to enter upon the simple exposition of the following facts.
The Congress of Lisbon legislated for Brazil without waiting for its Representatives, thus setting aside the Sovereignty of the majority of the Nation.
It denied to it a delegation of the Executive Power, of which it stood so much in need, in order to develope all the force of which it is susceptible, considering the great distance that separates it from Portugal; leaving it without Laws suitable to its climate and local circumstances, and without available resources for its urgent necessities.
It refused to it a centre of union and strength, for the purpose of weakening it, previously inciting the Provinces to separate from that which they had already happily established within themselves.
It decreed Governments to it, without stability and union; with 3 centres of differing action, insubordinate, rival, and contradictory; destroying by these means its character of a Kingdom, and undermining the basis of its future greatness and prosperity; leaving to it nothing but the elements of disorder and anarchy.
It excluded, de facto, all Brazilians from every honourable Employment, and filled your Cities with European Troops, commanded by rude, cruel, and immoral Chiefs.
It received with enthusiasm, and lavished praises upon, all those Monsters who had inflicted painful wounds in your hearts, or promised to continue to inflict them.
It laid violent hands upon the resources belonging to the Bank of Brazil, which was overburthened with an enormous National Debt, but with which the Congress never troubled itself; although the Credit of the Bank was intimately connected with the Publick Credit of Brazil and with its prosperity.
It opened Negociations with Foreign States for the alienation of portions of your Territory, in order to weaken and to subjugate you.
It disarmed your Fortresses, emptied your Arsenals, left your Ports without defence, and called all your Navy to the Ports of Portugal. It drained your Treasuries by repeated drafts, for the expenses of Troops who came, without your consent, for the purpose of spilling your blood, and of destroying you; at the same time that it prohibited
to you the introduction of Foreign arms and ammunition wherewith you might defend yourselves and support your liberty.
It presented a Project of Commercial relations, which, under the false and chimerical appearance of reciprocity and equality, monopolized your riches, and shut your Ports to Foreigners; thus destroying your agriculture and industry, and again reducing the Inhabitants of Brazil to the condition of Dependants and Colonists.
It treated from the beginning, and still continues to treat, with unworthy degradation and contempt, the Representatives of Brazil, when they have the courage to insist upon their Rights, and even (who would believe it) threatened you with giving liberty to the Blacks, and arming them against their Masters.
To complete this long narrative of appalling injustice;—when, for the first time, the sound of your just indignation was heard in the Congress, they doubly increased their mockery; endeavouring to exculpate themselves, under the plea of your desire and concurrence.
The delegation of the Executive Power, which the Congress rejected as Anti-Constitutional, is now offered to us by a Commission from that Congress, and with such liberality, that, instead of one centre of power, which we alone wanted, they wish to give you two or more. What unheard of generosity! But who does not see that its object is to destroy your strength and integrity, to arm Province against Province-Brothers against Brothers?
Let us awake, therefore, generous Inhabitants of this vast and powerful Empire; the great step of your Independence and happiness, so many times foretold by the great Politicians of Europe, has been taken. You are already a Sovereign People; you have already entered into the great Society of Independent Nations, to which you had every right. Honour and National dignity, the desire to be prosperous, the voice of Nature itself, require, that Colonies cease to be Colonies, when they arrive at a state of maturity, and although treated as Colonies, you really were not so; but, in fact, a Kingdom. Moreover, the same right which Portugal had, to overthrow its ancient Institutions and reconstitute itself, you possess, with much greater reason, who inhabit a vast and extensive Country, with a Population (although more scattered) already greater than that of Portugal, and which will go on increasing with the rapidity that distinguishes the fall of heavy bodies through the air. If Portugal deny you this right, let it renounce the right which it advances itself, to have its new Constitution acknowledged by Foreign Nations, who thereupon might allege just motives for interfering in its domestick concerns, and for violating the attributes of the Sovereignty and Independence of Nations.
What then remains for you to do, Brazilians? It remains for you to be all united, in interest, in love, and in hope; to cause the August Assembly of Brazil to enter upon the exercise of its functions, in order that, guided by reason and prudence, you may avoid the shoals which,