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Old letters from the Baron of Rio Branco (1893)

Old letters from the Baron of Rio Branco (1893)

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> This item is no longer in the catalogue, see the available documents here <

On his way to New York to defend Brazil's rights, Baron do Rio Branco reflects on his mission as a diplomat.

  • Two old letters from Baron do Rio Branco, nicknamed Juca, to an unknown recipient (Avelino).
  • Two sheets, four written pages, for each letter.
  • In Portuguese.
  • 20.2 cm x 25.4 cm.
  • On board the ship RMS Teutonic, traveling to New York.
  • May 22, 1893.
  • Paper yellowed and weakened by time.
  • Unique set.

Extracts from the first letter

We would like to thank the UFMG paleography team for the work of transcribing these two letters.

I haven't had a moment's rest since his departure (...) this appointment to Washington came to me.

In your letter you say that I now find myself in the career that best suits me. We talked about this subject a few times, and you must remember that I always tell you that I don't care about a diplomatic career. I'm not good for that, my dear, for many reasons. It is enough to present two: I do not have the fortune to support the position of minister, and I must not give up work that I have in preparation for leading a life of dinners, receptions, etiquette and parties. I'm no longer a man of the world.

I accepted this mission because it is temporary and solely for the defense of a territory that is indisputably ours. It's a matter of history and geography that I know perfectly, an issue addressed by my father in 1857. I don't know from whom the Government found out that I was in possession of new documents and intended to write about the subject: it appealed to me, and I had no right to excuse me, alleging reasons of comfort or personal convenience.

Once the matter is over, I return to my corner until I can find a way to acquire some property in São Paulo. I don't care about eminences and greatness, and this abstention, as you know, comes from afar. In times when such things seemed more lasting and solid, I had become accustomed to only desiring obscure positions. I must not change this purpose in the busy days we are going through (...).

Extracts from the second letter

This life on board is quite boring! I'm playing this role without knowing it what I write. On board I can only sleep and eat: the rocking of the ship makes me lazy and incapable of even having a romance. I'm on 5th. travel day. The day after tomorrow we should arrive in New York (...). Juca

In 2012, Brazil celebrated the end of the administration of Baron do Rio Branco (1845 - 1912) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, valuing the legacy of the patron of Brazilian diplomacy, especially regarding the United States and Argentina. Rio Branco closed the limits of the national territory and established the foundations of the tradition of Brazilian diplomacy, always seeking to differentiate Brazil from other nations in the southern segment of the hemisphere, characterized by great political and financial difficulties.

In this set of two letters, Baron do Rio Branco writes from the ship that took him to Washington in 1893 to, according to the Academia Brasileira De Letras, "(...) defend Brazil's rights to the territories of the Missions. The question was submitted to the arbitration of President Grover Cleveland, of the USA, claimed by Argentina. Rio Branco, advocating the Brazilian point of view, presented President Cleveland with a presentation and valuable documentation in six volumes. The arbitration report of February 5, 1895 was entirely favorable to the claims. Brazilian."

This set of two letters is valuable for Baron do Rio Branco's detailed thinking about the - sometimes tedious - work of a Brazilian diplomat (" dinners, receptions, etiquettes and parties" ), his objectives for this particular mission ( "the defense of a territory that is indisputably ours" ) and its aspirations for the future (" I don't care about eminences and greatness" ).

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