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Commemorative Postal Issue 200 Years of Independence Series: Bicentennial of Lisbon Courts

About the Stamp

This issue is the fifth in a series of six, titled “Brazil, 200 Years of Independence”, a partnership between the Chamber of Deputies and the Correios Brasil that began back in 2017 and will be extended until 2022, with the celebration of 200 years of Independence. At the top of the stamp the inscription “Brazil, 200 years of Independence”. Then, the painting “Sessão das Cortes de Lisboa” (Session of Lisbon Courts) by Oscar Pereira da Silva, which is part of the collection of the Paulista Museum at University of São Paulo. The session portrays the participation of representatives of the Brazilian provinces in the Assembly in Portugal, especially Antônio Carlos de Andrada, who appears standing and speaking. The computer graphics technique was used.

The Prodromes of Parliamentary Adventure in Brazil

Relevance of the Lisbon Courts of 1821 to Brazilian Parliamentary History

In the Brazilian constitutional and legislative history there is a very strong and close link between the Lisbon Courts of 1821 and our first constituent assembly of 1823. A link that has not been sufficiently remembered.

There were two effects: the learning of how legislative assemblies work and, more importantly, the creation of links between benches throughout Brazil, creating between them their own identity, which contrasted with that of the kingdoms.

Anyone who has the patience to entertain and carefully read the Annals of the first Brazilian constituent – Constituent of 1823 – our first parliamentary assembly, will certainly be amazed at the ease with which that assembly knew how to organize itself. The details of the functioning of parliamentary life seemed to be known to all, or at least to all those who took it upon themselves to organize the legislative body.

We find in it the concern of conducting preliminary “preparatory sessions”, in which a provisional “police commission” would be chosen: president and secretary (Director of the Assembly – we would say today); that two “vote verification commissions” would be appointed whose function was to “verify the legality of the diplomas of the deputies who were not elected to this same commission, and another of three members to also verify the legality of the diplomas of the five that formed the 1st commission”1 (that is, the Vote Verification Committees fulfilled the functions currently performed by the Electoral Court); the establishment of a ceremonial for the functioning of the assembly, etc.

Also, compelling those Annals, it can be seen that throughout its existence the Assembly organized its work without any difficulty. One soon sees the primacy of the plenary being established; its subdivision into thematic commissions; the need to study the proposals by rapporteur deputies, who would submit their reports and votes to the collegiate committees and then, if their points of view were victorious, submit their reports and votes to the plenary of the Assembly, etc..

Since that was the inaugural assembly of our parliamentary life, the question arises: where would those of our first deputies have learned all the art of parliamentary life?

The answer is in the biography of a good part of the members of that assembly. Several of them, the most conspicuous, were part of the first wave of deputies elected by Brazil. They were part of the deputies elected to represent Brazil in the General and Extraordinary Courts of the Portuguese Nation. It was there, in the daily participation in the work of that parliamentary assembly, that Brazilians for the first time had access to the functioning of the institution. It was in the parliamentary debate, in the trial of defeats and victories in voting, that we learned how a modern parliament should work better.

Brazil’s adherence to liberal ideals, created by the Enlightenment and spread throughout the West by the French Revolution, infecting all the minds of the time, materialized with its enthusiastic agreement to the Constitutionalist Revolution of Porto in 1820. Assent that materialized in the acclamation of governing boards, in the most diverse captaincies, and the consequent election of deputies to the Courts as representatives of the American portion of the Portuguese monarchy.

Among incumbents and substitutes, more than 90 deputies were elected, from all captaincies. However, given the political events, many did not even travel to Lisbon. In fact, some 40 parliamentarians took seats in the Courts. It should be noted that, when the first Brazilians entered the Courts enclosure, it had been in operation for several months, having already voted on several constitutional provisions. This fact even generated several manifestations of several Brazilian parliamentarians who pleaded for the re-discussion of the expired matters, as no opportunities for debate were given to the Brazilian deputies.

In the beginning, as it was to be expected, there was no greater interaction within the Brazilian bench. Deputies voted in an uneven way, even on matters that directly referred to the Kingdom of Brazil. However, as the work progressed, the anti-Brazilian tendency of the Portuguese deputies, who numbered more than one hundred, became increasingly clear, Brazilians became discouraged and joined in denouncing the irrationality with which the Courts squandered the interests of Brazil, pushing them from the UK.

In the participation of Brazilian deputies in the Lisbon Courts, it is possible to see not only the learning of parliamentary functioning, but also the beginning of the feeling of solidarity between the various Brazilian captaincies and the evolution of the feeling of irreversibility of the disintegration of the Portuguese monarchy. It should be noted that all parliamentarians advocated, as long as possible, for the maintenance of political ties with Portugal and, at a cost, became convinced of the impossibility of maintaining these. The epitome of such political evolution can be found in the famous phrase, pronounced in plenary by deputy Nicolau Pereira de Campos Vergueiro, who was born in Portugal, but represented São Paulo:

“Brazil is ready to link up with Portugal, but not according to the pace that Congress is dictating.”2

José Theodoro Mascarenhas Menck

Legislative Consultant of the Chamber of Deputies

1 Annals of the Constituent and Legislative Assembly of the Empire of Brazil. First Preparatory Session. April 17, 1823.

2 February, 13th, 1822 Session – General Courts Diary, tome 5th, page 183. Qtd in Manoel Emílio Gomes de Carvalho. Brazilian deputies at the General Courts of 1821. Brasília: Federal Senate, 2003, page 160.

Technical Details

Stamp issue N. 10

Art: Ely Borges e Isabel Flecha de Lima

Print system: offset

Paper: gummed chalky paper

Sheet with 12 stamps

Facial value: R$ 2.50

Issue: 240,000 stamps

Design area: 21 x 39mm

Stamp dimensions: 26 x 44mm

Perforation: 11,5 x 11

Date of issue: August 23rd , 2021

Place of issue: Brasília/DF

Printing: Brazilian Mint

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