José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco
José Maria da Silva Paranhos was a politician, monarchist, diplomat, teacher and journalist of the Empire of Brazil. He was sent to Uruguay in late 1864, tasked with bringing a diplomatic end to the Uruguayan War. In 1869, he was recalled and dispatched to Paraguay, this time to negotiate an end to its war with Brazil. His successful efforts in concluding a peace with Paraguay were recognized, and Pedro II ennobled him, making him Viscount of Rio Branco. He died in 1880 and was widely mourned.
About José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco in brief
José Maria da Silva Paranhos, the Viscount of Rio Branco, was a politician, monarchist, diplomat, teacher and journalist of the Empire of Brazil. He was sent to Uruguay in late 1864, tasked with bringing a diplomatic end to the Uruguayan War. In 1869, he was recalled and dispatched to Paraguay, this time to negotiate an end to its war with Brazil. His successful efforts in concluding a peace with Paraguay were recognized, and Pedro II ennobled him, making him ViscOUNT of Janeiro. He died in 1880 and was widely mourned throughout the country. He is regarded by most historians as one of Brazil’s greatest statesmen. He would become the Council’s longest-serving president, and his cabinet the second longest, in Brazilian history. His government was marked by a time of economic prosperity and the enactment of several necessary reforms—though they proved to be seriously flawed. The most important of these initiatives was the Law of Free Birth, which granted freeborn status to children born to slave women. He had a simple childhood but did not experience poverty. His parents died early in his childhood and he was raised by his sister and her husband. He became a wealthy merchant and married Josefa Emerenciana de Barreiros, the Brazilian-born daughter of one of Bahia’s long-established families. His father died when he was still a child and he followed a few years later as a colonel in the Engineer Corps. His brothers were rescued by an uncle on their mother’s side, who financed their education and raised his children as his own.
He remained loyal to Portugal until Brazil’s Independence in 1822, which resulted in his ostracism and the collapse of his business. Though his parents were no longer rich, he did not Experience poverty. He and his brothers were left in a precarious position, since the remainder of Agostinho’s fortune had been appropriated by a relative on his side. The brothers were raised by their uncle, Eusio Gomes Barre i Gomes, who held the rank of Colonel. The family had roots in Porto and moved to Salvador, Bahia, in the first decade of the 19th century. They had three children, all of whom were educated at Brazil’s Naval School and the Army’s Military Academy. He later became a politician in the Liberal Party and was elected a member of the provincial house of representatives of Rio de Janeiro province, site of the national capital of the same name. He rose to power within the province under the tutelage of Aureliano Coutinho, VISCount of Sepetiba—a veteran politician who held tremendous influence over the young and inexperienced Emperor Pedro II. He temporarily abandoned politics after Aurelianco Coutinho’s fall from grace and the subsequent dissolution of the Liberal party. He joined the Marquis of Paraná’s Conservative Party as well as the cabinet over which the latter presided.