January 10, 2019


In volume II of his work about the Social History of Brazil, Pedro Calmon prepares for the conclusion of part one by talking of The Balance achieved in America, with the end of The Paraguayan War. According to the historian “the greatest hit of D. Bartolomé Mitre, for the entire America, was the fact of having understood the Brazilian spirit. The war had caused 50 thousand deaths to Brazil with costs of 600 thousand contos in gold.

In colonial Brazil, work had a stigma of slave quarters and it only changed with the end of the slave traffic, after 1850.

There was an anti-British move, caused by the offense England represented to Brazil with the ocean police hunting slave ships, that threatened the Empire sovereignty. Between 1837 and 1847, the British recovered more than 600 slave ships from Brazil and Cuba. Despite this British defense, the import of forced labor in the Empire reached 60 thousand people in 1848. The new world politics was carried out in London.

In addition, the Russian government was the kick start for the financing of the Brazilian railway, among other items of the national production, with an interest guarantee system. The Empire build the first railway trunk in Bahia, Pernambuco and São Paulo. Then, Viscount of Mauá started the first railroad of South America, that went from Porto de Estrela up to Petrópolis. In 1884, more than 2,400 kilometers of railways were constructed in the Empire. Only Dom Pedro II managed to build 10 thousand kilometers of the existing amount.

As for the cities customs, it was seldom to find a white person in the street in 1823. The noblemen went out by car or sedan chairs. In Bahia of the sedan chairs, it was Dom Pedro II who revolved the customs and went up the slopes by horse aiming to banish the transport that required slaved arm.

The intermediate people, composed by small owners, public employees and the trading personnel started to use gondola. Since 1856, the more centralized streets were paved with paving stones; public cleaning started, in 1947, with Aleixo Gary & Cia, whence we use until these days the expression “gari”. Then we had the streets lightening.

To deserve the work title, Pedro Calmon doesn’t approach only the public and especially historic facts, but also the social happenings, the behavior of Brazilian life in the Imperial Society.


[In: Calmon, Pedro. História Social do Brasil, volume 2: espírito da sociedade imperial / Pedro Calmon. – São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2002.]

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