(1763-1838) poet, scientist, political figure
Known as the “Patriarch of Independence,” Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva was one of the most influential figures in Brazilian history. Extremely well educated, Andrada e Silva received degrees in law and philosophy in 1787 and 1788, respectively, from the University of Coimbra. He also studied other topics, such as mathematics, geology, and astronomy. After graduating, Andrada e Silva joined the Science Academy of Lisbon, where he gained international recognition for his achievements in the sciences. His contributions in this area are many, including his discovery of four previously unknown minerals and eight unknown species.
After a long absence from home while conducting scientific research abroad, Andrada e Silva returned to Brazil in 1819 and immediately became politically active. In October of 1821, he wrote “Lem-branas e Apontamentos do Governo Provisorio de Sao Paulo,” said to be the most important document in Brazilian history, for laying the foundation of modern-day Brazil. Andrada e Silva is given credit for the unification of Brazil in 1822, an act that many proudly state contained little bloodshed. Without his efforts, Brazil would have separated into smaller divisions during the disintegration of Portuguese control in the early 1800s. He was named the first minister under the new constitution he had helped establish, but his intense insistence on a liberal constitution led to his banishment from Brazil in 1823-29. He later returned to Brazil and tutored Emperor Pedro II’s sons.
As a writer, Andrada e Silva’s work was fueled by his political vehemence. In “Poesias Avulsas,” he explored a “natural pantheism that expressed his intellectual character and scientific curiosity,” a curiosity that sparked the same in others of his time (Rupert). The work was published under a pseudonym and has been republished in numerous volumes since its original publication in 1825.
Works about Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva
Amaral, Ricardo C. Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva. Brazil: Brazilian Communications Group, 1999.
Burns, E. Bradford. A History of Brazil, 3rd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.