WI: Pedro I of Brazil accepts the Constitution of 1823?

In a POD that can only be described as Mr. Pedro hitting his head as an infant and being a completely different person than in OTL, what if the first Emperor of Brazil signed the Constitution of 1823 instead of dissolving Brazil's first Constituent Assembly in favor of writing a very authoritarian constitution himself?
How does the first years of the Empire of Brazil would transpire? How would its government be like in the coming decades? Will this government be willing to pay indemnity to Portugal for their recognition of Brazilian independence (1825)?
There are a few things this alternate Brazil will still have to deal with:
- External debt, to pay for the mercenary military and... Well... Everything else too;
- Cisplatine War;
- Confederation of Equador, a secessionist revolt in the Province of Pernambuco.
 
You know, even with the whole aspect of the Moderating Power, it was considered rather liberal on its own time.
Agreed. Not sure if I'd call Pedro's constitution "authoritarian." His actions to deal with the Constituent Assembly are one thing, as there were certainly disagreements: some members of the assembly were liberal democrats and wanted the emperor to be a figurehead. Pedro wasn't a tyrant—he wanted the constitution to prevent possible abuses not only by the monarch, but also the political classes and the population as a whole. It would've been very easy for the emperor to order a drafting of a constitution that provided for a very powerful executive vested in the emperor—he didn't. The 1824 constitution was a very liberal document: influences came from France's 1791 Constitution, the Spanish Constitution of 1812, along with Norway and Portugal's. It wasn't a conservative document—and in ways was more liberal than the 1823 draft.

In a POD that can only be described as Mr. Pedro hitting his head as an infant and being a completely different person than in OTL, what if the first Emperor of Brazil signed the Constitution of 1823 instead of dissolving Brazil's first Constituent Assembly in favor of writing a very authoritarian constitution himself?
To be fair, Pedro didn't write or impose the 1824 constitution. The Council of State was instructed to draft it, and the "Council of Notables" that drew it up were all renowned jurists: many of them Brazilian by birth. What they devised was sent out to the municipal councils: the intention was for it to be a draft/blueprint for a new constituent assembly, but the municipal councils suggested that the draft be adopted immediately, as is: and the councils voted in favor of the 1824 constitution. There weren't many opposed to the 1824 draft.

I'd also say it's important to recognize that the Constituent Assembly that was dissolved had many struggles and issues: aside from the liberals, there were deputies who supported a stronger monarchy. The 1823 draft also called for a more centralized / unitary government vs. the federal system that Brazil would eventually have. It would've also had a very limited suffrage: only free men were considered Brazilian citizens, and even slaves who were freed were not considered citizens (compared to the 1824 draft, where they were considered as such). The Emperor was to be the executive in the 1823 draft—but with responsible power vested in the Council of Ministers. It was their attempts to turn the emperor into a figurehead position that provoked disagreements and problems, and the Portuguese Absolutists also made an alliance with Brazilian liberals to get rid of the Andrada Cabinet: these allied factions enlisted those close to Pedro to essentially poison Pedro against José Bonifácio and ensure that his cabinet was dismissed. When that was accomplished, both the Absolutists and Liberals turned on one another and the whole situation devolved into chaos.
 
You know, even with the whole aspect of the Moderating Power, it was considered rather liberal on its own time.
That's fair, but... The Moderating Power was really the selling point of the thing. On paper, it was one thing. On practice is where the problem lied anf Pedro I really didn't pull his punches with the kinds of power the constitution just happened to give him.


Pedro wasn't a tyrant—he wanted the constitution to prevent possible abuses not only by the monarch, but also the political classes and the population as a whole. It would've been very easy for the emperor to order a drafting of a constitution that provided for a very powerful executive vested in the emperor—he didn't.
Except he did. The guy literally started his reign as an adored monarch, the hero who said he would stand for independence and not even 2 decades later, he was fucking hated by everybody for being a piece of shit. The Assembly was dissolved because Pedro didn't like how much of a figurehead it made him, he was dignified Prince brought up in an Absolutist household and he certainly set out for not much less than this.
The Assembly was dealt with with force in what became known as the "Noite da Agonia" (Night of Agony). Pedro I emprisoned and exiled José Bonifácio, who's as much of a father of Brazilian independence as he was (if not more, since he and Leopoldina actually had the desires to do so and appeared to have literally forced Pedro's hand for that matter) and one of his most important political allies.
Pedro I was a tyrant without a shadow of a doubt. He was known for it and continues to be known for it until this very day. Hell, he wasn't even Brazilian and actually protected more of the interests of the Portuguese elite who remained in Brazil after independence than the Brazilian elites. The Constitution of 1824 needn't to be writen directly by him, he had already ordered the Concil of State to do it shortly after the Night of Agony. It seems pretty clear to me why that constitution turned out the way it did. To further corroborate this point, Pedro I spent his reign basically exploiting the hell out of that loophole. His "Moderating Power" wasn't on the same level as the other 3, it was very clearly above it. NOTHING happened if it didn't pass through the Moderating Power.
It could be the most liberal document in the world, influenced by a lot of other liberal documents (Pedro I wasn't a conservative exactly, after all), but the spirit of the document was all that mattered.

and in ways was more liberal than the 1823 draft.
Sorry, but I must disagree. Here are a few points why:
1- The Moderating Power, which stood above the 3 remaining powers and was placed directly at the hand of the Emperor, who was also the Executive Power.
2- The Assembly had a generally anti-absolutist agenda, who was reflected o the fact that Pedro I wouldn't have power over the military and would hold a veto power only for the Chamber of Deputies, but not the Senate. These guys were from the Brazilian Party. They opponents the Portuguese Party, threw their support over Pedro I being an absolute monarch. They went on to be Pedro's closest allies in his late reign.
3- There was no vote of any legitimate Assembly of the 1824's constitution. Pedro I impossed it unilateraly by his own will. He had the power to do so and did it.

there were deputies who supported a stronger monarchy.
Again, I must reiterate, those Deputies where from the "Portuguese Party". Those Deputies were pretty intent in making Pedro an absolute monarch, but they also had a recolonization agenda too, which alligned itself with the interrests of Portugal, naturally.

There weren't many opposed to the 1824 draft.
Expect for the ones who would that were just arrested and exiled, so naturally there wasn't much opposition.

The 1823 draft also called for a more centralized / unitary government vs. the federal system that Brazil would eventually have.
I must also say, any further federalization of the Provinces happened in the later part of Imperial Brazil, under Pedro II. The Constitution of 1824 stablished Brazil as a Parlamentary Constitutional Monarchy over a unitary state initially.
 

Math

Banned
I don't blame Pedro for coming into conflict with the elite and the political class , They are one of the most disgusting things Brazil has.
 

Math

Banned
Brazil needs and has always needed a strong man, Who is our best president? Getúlio Vargas A strong man , That put the elites of Minas gerais and especially São Paulo (Who even rebelled) In their place.
 
I don't blame Pedro for coming into conflict with the elite and the political class , They are one of the most disgusting things Brazil has.
Oh, absolutely. Brazilian elites and Portuguese elites were all assholes... Except, he was kind of elite himself wasn't he? What's more elite than being a noble? A bourgois? Besides, he sided with the guys that didn't want this independence thing and did so to further expand his power so... That's kind of a problem.

Brazil needs and has always needed a strong man, Who is our best president? Getúlio Vargas A strong man , That put the elites of Minas gerais and especially São Paulo (Who even rebelled) In their place.
Eh... Strong men and their things :v. Anyway, we're getting a bit off-topic.
 
Nah we had too many strong men messing around

Now strong women?

Maria Leopoldina, Isabel, Clodovil...

Yeah that's where it is at
 
Except he did. The guy literally started his reign as an adored monarch, the hero who said he would stand for independence and not even 2 decades later, he was fucking hated by everybody for being a piece of shit. The Assembly was dissolved because Pedro didn't like how much of a figurehead it made him, he was dignified Prince brought up in an Absolutist household and he certainly set out for not much less than this.
The Assembly was dealt with with force in what became known as the "Noite da Agonia" (Night of Agony). Pedro I emprisoned and exiled José Bonifácio, who's as much of a father of Brazilian independence as he was (if not more, since he and Leopoldina actually had the desires to do so and appeared to have literally forced Pedro's hand for that matter) and one of his most important political allies.
Pedro I was a tyrant without a shadow of a doubt. He was known for it and continues to be known for it until this very day. Hell, he wasn't even Brazilian and actually protected more of the interests of the Portuguese elite who remained in Brazil after independence than the Brazilian elites. The Constitution of 1824 needn't to be writen directly by him, he had already ordered the Concil of State to do it shortly after the Night of Agony. It seems pretty clear to me why that constitution turned out the way it did. To further corroborate this point, Pedro I spent his reign basically exploiting the hell out of that loophole. His "Moderating Power" wasn't on the same level as the other 3, it was very clearly above it. NOTHING happened if it didn't pass through the Moderating Power.
It could be the most liberal document in the world, influenced by a lot of other liberal documents (Pedro I wasn't a conservative exactly, after all), but the spirit of the document was all that mattered.
As mentioned above: his acting against Bonifacio and his cabinet was primarily because of the liberal-absolutist alliance that used people close to Pedro / within his household to poison him against Bonifacio. Both had their reasons for wanting to get rid of him. That doesn't make him a tyrant: just a man who was easily influenced. But all histography about the emperor pretty much points to him having a weak character: this was the man who was begging his father to let him resign the regency of Brazil barely six months after receiving it. His first wife had more backbone than him: she is the one who pressed him towards independence. At the same time, one can't exactly fault Pedro for not being politically apt: John VI allowed him no role in state affairs. He reached his mid-twenties with absolutely no political experience or aptitude, John VI allowed him no say in affairs or a seat upon the council. His first real political role was when he was made regent. When it comes to Pedro's political character, he was his father's son.

Him being Brazilian doesn't have much to do with his role: it was the 19th century. Pretty much all the new monarchies that cropped up in the period imported their royal families (typically from Germany). Pedro became the face of Brazilian independence, it isn't any surprise that he became their emperor. Some even allege that John VI and Pedro had an agreement for Pedro to take the crown if it was offered, because better him than another prince taking it. He was always pretty loyal to his position as Brazil's sovereign—a lot of his later unpopularity was because of his concern with Portuguese dynastic affairs. I do not think he would've suddenly been popular again if he had stayed out of it, but letting John VI croak and letting it play out how it plays out likely would've been a better choice than attempting to meddle in it and brook a compromise by installing his daughter as queen and then betrothing her to his absolutist brother—along with letting him take the Portuguese regency.

A tyrant is typically a cruel / oppressive ruler. I'm sorry, but Pedro doesn't meet the bill IMO. The spirit of the constitution embodies those that it was influenced by. If Pedro had desired a truly conservative / absolutist one, he could've easily had one drafted: but he didn't. I get the sentiment that the 1823 constitution was probably more democratic in character, but the 1824 draft crafted at Pedro's behest was not an awful document: it's still one of the constitutions that was in force for the longest period of time in Brazil's history as an independent nation.

Now, was as he a good monarch? Absolutely not: if not for Maria Leopoldina and her influence, he likely would've been very happy to resign the regency and go back to Portugal. If he abused his moderating power, that's one thing—but it wasn't a carte blanche power. Again, if he had wanted to have true absolute power, he would've advocated for a constitution that vested more significant executive powers in his person, not the creation of the moderating power that happened IOTL. An emperor couldn't even use his "moderating" powers without consultation from the Council of State, and those powers which were vested in him were and still are pretty typical for those granted to constitutional monarchs, even today (though obviously today, such powers are not used—and if they are, it's rare): convening Parliament between sessions, enacting decrees passed by parliament, prolonging / dissolving parliament, free appointment of ministers of state, the power to pardon / moderate sentences. He also had some say over magistrates and could hear complaints / suspend them, but this required a hearing, while resolutions from the provincial parliaments could also be approved / suspended. He also had the right to nominate senators. As it goes, the powers vested in him as the moderating power were not particularly egregious for a constitutional monarch of the period. Very few would call Pedro a despot, and Manuel de Oliveira Lima wrote: "his ambition was to be guarded by the love of his people and the fidelity of his troops and not impose his tyranny." We've seen how a man can impose his will on a state, as you go through history: from Caesar down to Napoleon—from Napoleon alone, Pedro would've had plenty of guides to glean from if he desired a more autocratic constitution, or he could've even glanced over the border: Simon Bolivar had liberal and republican sentiments, but believed in a strong executive and was effectively an authoritarian dictator until his resignation.

Despite Pedro's failures, I don't think one can say he violated the spirit of the constitution that was adopted: he didn't tamper with elections or try and rig votes; he didn't refuse to sign decrees that came before him, and he didn't impose any restrictions on freedom of speech. Despite disagreements with the Brazilian Parliament, he also never had it dissolved even when their aims and policies clashed. To me, that's not a tyrant—a tyrant would impose restrictions upon citizens freedoms and would not brook any sort of disagreement—a disagreeable parliament would be dissolved and replaced with one more pliant.

Many liberal pamphlets and newspapers used Pedro's Portuguese heritage to attack him, both when it came to valid accusations (such as him wasting too much energy/time towards Portugal) and those that were untrue (that he was involved in plots to suppress the constitution and reunite Portugal and Brazil). Some saw ghosts were there were none: many Brazilian liberals in this period were suspicious of the emperor's Portuguese-born friends who held positions at the imperial court; they widely believed that Pedro had a "secret cabinet" that included men such as Francisco Gomes da Silva who were believed to be playing a role in Brazil's political affairs and pushing towards an abrogation of the constitution. There is absolutely no truth to this—even two hundred years later, there is no proof of palace cabal among the Portuguese elements at court following the constitution's adoption.

Now, did Pedro pretty much staff his ministries with who he desired? Yes, absolutely. There were fights from liberal deputies because they believed the ministries should direct the course of government and that the majority party should hold said ministries: but again, these aren't situations that are crazy for the 19th century, and other constitutional monarchies had such struggles. Brazil was an infant nation embarking on a new journey with a new political system, and such troubles could and should be expected. Imperial Germany's constitution gave the German Emperor significant sway and he was allowed free reign over the appointment of the Prime Minister, who didn't need to command a majority in the German Parliament. I don't think many people would call Wilhelm I or even Friedrich III a tyrant—the jury is still out on Wilhelm II. Even the United Kingdom had it's own struggles in the development of a Parliamentary regime, despite having a head start: the practice that the Prime Minister should conform to Parliament's will was only really cemented post-1834—William IV was the last king to appoint who he desired (and who he technically had the right to appoint per his powers).

I absolutely agree that Pedro was not a completely liberal man, and his manner could be autocratic—he definitely was not someone comfortable or at home within a Parliamentary regime, but he was also a man of his times: the son of John VI and Crown Prince of Portugal. He had been reared as a Portuguese Infante at the height of Portuguese absolutism: he was not groomed to be Emperor of Brazil (though one could say he was not even groomed to be King of Portugal given his lackadaisical education). It says something when his wife Maria Leopoldina, a Habsburg Archduchess who had been reared at the conservative Court of Vienna was able to espouse liberal ideas more easily than her husband. Whatever popularity Pedro had was wasted and wasn't regained post-1824. His overt focus on Portuguese affairs post-1826 made him even more unpopular. It says something about the longevity of the Brazilian Empire. Despite Pedro I and Pedro II's fuck-ups: the system function as intended: Brazil weathered the chaotic regency years and the system even flourished under Pedro II's reign. Brazil was just cursed with the bad luck of having two sovereigns who could not focus on Brazil's long-term future: Pedro I was more concerned with Portugal, while Pedro II truly saw the death of his sons as the end of the system and took no step to prepare his daughter Isabel: her political education was neglected much as her grandfather's was.

Sorry, but I must disagree. Here are a few points why:
1- The Moderating Power, which stood above the 3 remaining powers and was placed directly at the hand of the Emperor, who was also the Executive Power.
2- The Assembly had a generally anti-absolutist agenda, who was reflected o the fact that Pedro I wouldn't have power over the military and would hold a veto power only for the Chamber of Deputies, but not the Senate. These guys were from the Brazilian Party. They opponents the Portuguese Party, threw their support over Pedro I being an absolute monarch. They went on to be Pedro's closest allies in his late reign.
3- There was no vote of any legitimate Assembly of the 1824's constitution. Pedro I impossed it unilateraly by his own will. He had the power to do so and did it.
1. Again—not uncommon for a monarchial constitution or a constitutional monarchy. The idea of a moderating power is unique to Brazil, but the powers it vested the emperor with are quite similar to those held by other constitutional monarchs—both then and now. Even today in such systems, the monarch is considered to stand above the legislative and judiciary, even if their influence in modern times has become symbolic. Even the declaration used in the constitution regarding the moderating powers that the emperor is: "inviolable and sacred; he is not subject to any authority" wasn't unique—it was common in 19th century monarchies of the period (the 1814 Dutch Constitution uses the same phrasing, as does the Luxembourg constitution from 1868). You can even find the phrasing today in the Norwegian, Danish and Spanish constitutions.

2. I can't argue re: the Constituent Assembly's makeup, but there were deputies of both persuasions. At the end of the day, it was the liberal-absolutist alliance that poisoned Pedro's relationship with the Andrada cabinet. Both political parties had reasons to want him out of the way. I wouldn't necessarily say that the 1823 document was more liberal than the 1824 document. I think that both had certain good points that espoused liberal views—and both had bad points that were quite illiberal as well.

3. The initial plan was for another Constituent Assembly to be summoned. The initial draft / blueprint that was eventually adopted was sent out to Brazil's municipal councils (the câmara municipal)—Pedro did not impose it. The municipal councils and their councilors (who had been elected—they were not appointed) were in favor of the 1824 document. The municipal councils of the 1820s had not yet been overhauled by the 1834 Additional Act and retained a lot of their influence and power from the colonial period. I can't speak to the makeup of these councils in regards to their members and their political persuasions: I only know that "practically none" made any reservations (per Ronaldo Vainfas, 2002). Only after councils voted in favor of the constitution was it formally issued—so there was some form of consultation, even if it perhaps was the "illusion of choice." Certainly some constitutional adoptions in the 19th century did not go so smoothly: both Napoleon and Napoleon III were well known for rigging the results of referendums / plebiscites to legitimize their rule under the guise of democracy. There is absolutely no proof that Pedro did any such thing with the Municipal Councils in 1824. Even if there was not an elected assembly to draft up the constitution, the constitution was shown to the elected officers of the town councils.

Again, I must reiterate, those Deputies where from the "Portuguese Party". Those Deputies were pretty intent in making Pedro an absolute monarch, but they also had a recolonization agenda too, which alligned itself with the interrests of Portugal, naturally.
Some may have—but the Portuguese Party was also composed of recent immigrants. This included people such as businessmen (who in this period still dominated Brazil's international trade) down to trademen and urban workers. The Brazilian Party was primarily the backbone of the landed elite, and they certainly had an edge in within the assembly—primarily because they took the initiative. IIRC, the assembly was not at first summoned to draft a constitution but to consider the applicability of Portuguese laws in Brazil: when work turned towards drafting the constitution, some Portuguese deputies refused to take part because of this reason. The 1823 draft would've restricted political rights to the Brazilian elite/landowners and denied them to the Portuguese. One can understand their reasoning, but even when Pedro took the step to get rid of the assembly, it had already deteriorated into political squabbles between themselves—not just the squabbles they had with Pedro.

Expect for the ones who would that were just arrested and exiled, so naturally there wasn't much opposition.
Not as many were exiled as you'd think. Only six people were actually exiled: Andrada and his brothers were the most prominent exiles. The most ardent members of the Portuguese Party wanted Pedro to ship Andrada back to Portugal: their belief was that he'd be tried for reason to helping bring about Brazil's independence. Pedro refused to do it.

I must also say, any further federalization of the Provinces happened in the later part of Imperial Brazil, under Pedro II. The Constitution of 1824 stablished Brazil as a Parlamentary Constitutional Monarchy over a unitary state initially.
You are correct here, my apologies.
 
Well, that was certainly enlightening in some aspects. Putting aside discussion over the nature of the constitution itself, though, I still find myself curious to know what would have happened if the more radical liberals would have gotten their way. This Empire of Brazil would certainly be even more dominated by the Slavers landowners, for starters, but how things might have proceeded from there?
 
Well, that was certainly enlightening in some aspects. Putting aside discussion over the nature of the constitution itself, though, I still find myself curious to know what would have happened if the more radical liberals would have gotten their way. This Empire of Brazil would certainly be even more dominated by the Slavers landowners, for starters, but how things might have proceeded from there?
Among the liberals, there were two distinct sects: the Bonifacios were those mostly closely connected to the Andrada cabinet. They desired a strong and centralized monarchy as they believed any sort of federalist / autonomist political structure might lead to Brazil's fragmentation. Andrada in particular also nursed hopes of agrarian reform and the abolition of the slave trade.

The Federalist Liberals included both Portuguese delegates and Brazilians; they sought a more decentralized monarchy and supported a federal system and also wished for slavery to be maintained. They were not friendly to Andrada's government, likely because of his hopes to get rid of the slave trade. They were the group who later forged an alliance with the absolutists to oust Andrada.

Ideologically, at least in the 1823 period, Pedro was closely aligned to the Bonifacios: he was quite close to Andrada before their break, and iirc Maria Leopoldina was influential in nurturing and encouraging that relationship: the empress was close to Andrada as well.

As for the actual document: we know that the emperor was to serve as the executive with true power vested with his ministers, who would hold responsibility. He would also have a suspensive veto: at least before plans came about to reduce his position to a more symbolic role. It called for a centralized country, and the suffrage was more restrictive than the 1824 Constitution: only free men were to be considered citizens; even a slave that was freed would not gain citizenship.

I'd say for the 1823 Constitution to succeed, it likely needs to be the first draft that maintains some power for Pedro: so him being the executive, ministers being responsible, and having a suspensive (but not total) veto. This creates a situation as you've mentioned, where Brazil's government is likely dominated by the great landowners (though I suppose IOTL it was at this point as well... this situation would just make it more so)—which is akin to the radical liberals essentially empowering those who could end up very ill deposed towards them... especially if Andrada can stay in office and is still adamant to pursue agricultural reforms + the abolition of the slave trade. Most Brazilian liberals at this point were adamant in the maintenance of slavery, and a constitution where they have even more sway means any possibility of abolitionism is dead in the water. Andrada's time may be limited, even if the constitution is adopted.

Leaving that aside, you end up having an empire that also has a more unitary political structure. Given the influence that the French Charter of 1815 had upon the writers of the 1823 draft, it would not at all be surprising to me if they were influenced by French administrative policies: instead of federalism, you might end up in a situation where Brazil's huge provinces are cut down into smaller prefectures or something similar and power is subordinated to Rio de Janeiro.

You also likely still have issues post-1826, when John VI kicks the bucket. If Pedro's political situation is more cemented in this constitution versus the 1824 constitution that gave him more latitude, he may be constrained in regards to his foreign policy, especially where it concerns Portugal. It is still likely that Pedro will seek to give up Brazil's crown to chase after Portugal's: the glory, the fighting... those were things Pedro craved. Being a constitutional monarch, a life of tedium, conciliation, and caution did not suit him, and he often was dismayed at it.
 
It is still likely that Pedro will seek to give up Brazil's crown to chase after Portugal's: the glory, the fighting... those were things Pedro craved. Being a constitutional monarch, a life of tedium, conciliation, and caution did not suit him, and he often was dismayed at it.
Would it be too risky in TTL, though? With his placement as Brazil's monarch promptly secured (assuming he just isn't the right kind of asshole to actually lose power AGAIN, even without the fire upon him calling him an Authoritatian), doesn't that mean that Pedro may have less of a reason to actually fight for his daughter's claim of the throne and, later, abdicate Brazil for Portugal? It's important to note that he was very mindful of his unpopular position by the end of his reign and recognized that, if he wanted to continue to be a monarch, he'd have to risk it with Portugal, since he'd probably be ousted soon in Brazil.

Also, with the Brazilian elites holding more power overall, what happens to the events like the Cisplatine War and the Confederation of the Equator?
 
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