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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The head of the province was, on the occasion of our visit, His Excellency Mr. Paulo Jose da Silva Gama, a worthy and experienced veteran of the Portuguese navy, whose benevolent and just efforts to maintain the tranquility and well-being of the province entrusted to him are proclaimed by all of Maranhão. In his house, we had the pleasure of meeting again the former judge outside Caxias, Mr. Luis de Oliveira Figueiredo e Almeida, who had been transferred, as an ombudsman, to Maranhao. From the latter we also received remarkable additional contributions to the ethnography of the Maranhao Indians, and, moreover, pieces of the natural alum from Campo Maior, which were sent from Piaui to us.

The city of Maranhao, Sao Luis, with its closest dependencies, has only 30,000 inhabitants. Among them, there are relatively many unmixed descendants of Portuguese and a large number of blacks; The number of Indians is small. The whites, in charge of the administration, most of the trading houses and some industries, are generally Portuguese born (sons of the kingdom). Its activity, spirit of initiative and formerly also the system that excluded those born in Brazil from the important positions of State, gave this part of the population a strange preponderance over Brazilians, resulting in a tension, which, shortly after we left Brazil, due to a political catastrophe in Portugal (1) also disturbed the public tranquility here too.

When one knows the elements that collide, nothing seems more natural than this state of affairs. The European, knowledgeable of the world and of the great moral forces at stake, possessing instruction, if not fundamental, in any case practical, comes here animated with restless activity, to found, with his own strengths, more pleasing living conditions. Brazilians, born in abundance, raised among domestic slaves of little education, and in the secure possession of inherited goods, more inclined to enjoyment than to work, recognize the supremacy of the immigrant, and shyly abandon their activity from the trade that enriches, preferring to enjoy life in the gentle welfare of the farm.

Although family ties bind Portuguese to Brazilians, there is still diversity in thinking, energy and tastes, and as new immigrants come to live every year, the tension of the animosity is kept alive until any cause arouses a flame whose sparks ignite disunity. The observer of the destinies of men is no stranger to these tragic conditions in the history of our species.

(I) If the date, expressed in the original "bald nachdem wir Brasilien verlassen batten", to which the authors refer, would have been the constitutionalist movement, which took place in Porto on August 24, 1820. (Rev., Inst. Hist. and Geogr. Bras.).

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