The War of Paraguay: Chapter XXXII, The Count of Eu and Slavery in Paraguay

At the end of the war the stipulation, accepted by the Council of State, that they discuss emancipation, was fulfilled. Those that had accompanied the emperor new well his opinion on the matter. Knowing his character and the proceedings of the government, they knew that, for him, the moment had arrived to renew, together with the conservative ministry, the efforts he made with the Olinda and Zacharias ministries in 1866, 1867, and 1868, in favor of reform. Because of this, Nabuco’s plan for the new legislature of 1870 was to capitalize on the Emperor’s leanings and create the opening necessary for him.

In September of 1869 the Count of Eu had directed a letter, sent from the general headquarters, to the provisional government of Asunción, requesting freedom for the slaves that still lived in Paraguay. There weren’t many, but the importance of this act was great, being taken by the Brazilian general, husband of the presumptive heir to the Brazilian crown. His initiative must have been felt in the country.

The Institute of Attorneys (1) tasked Nabuco with congratulating the Emperor and the Count of Eu for their triumphs, and Nabuco, upon their return from the campaign, took advantage of the occasion that victory gave him, explaining before the throne this new national aspiration. After commending the great example of resolve and patriotism that the Emperor set, and the faith that he always had in the valor of the Brazilian people, Nabuco said, addressing the sovereign:

“War is a calamity that humanity deplores, but when it has a just and rational cause it is a duty. Civilization sees itself compensated for the tragedies produced by war if, in the wake of these tragedies, there remains a great and generous ideal.”

What ideal is this? No doubt remains in his congratulations to the Count of Eu. “The notable letter that Y.H. sent to the provisional Paraguayan government, which ensured the abolition of slavery in that country, enjoys extreme, indescribable enthusiasm in the Institute, which, through the voice of its presidents, has always defended the cause of emancipation, a holy and irrepressible cause; holy because it is the cause of the Gospel; irrepressible because it is the cause of civilization. That this great ideal of emancipation be a consequence of the victory achieved against Paraguay’s barbarism is a thought which emanates from Y.H.’s letter, and is the desire of the Institute.”

Translator’s Note

1. The Institute of Brazilian Attorneys [Instituto dos Advogados Brasileiros] is an organization responsible for regulating the practice of law in Brazil. Nabuco was president of the institute from 1866 to 1873.

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