No. 54.
Mr. Hilliard to Mr. Evarts.

No. 9.]

Sir: In my last dispatch I informed you of the resignation of the ministry of the Duke de Caxias.

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It was supposed that the Emperor would organize a temporary cabinet, composed of members of the conservative party, and await the meeting of Parliament. It is understood that he sent for Councilor Paulino J. S. de Souza, president of the Chamber of Deputies, and desired him to undertake the task of forming a new ministry, with the view of confiding the government still to the conservative party, which has for ten years controlled it. After some reflection, Councilor de Souza came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to undertake the responsibility.

Then the Emperor decided to bring the liberal party into power. The announcement of his purpose startled the country and created excitement throughout the political circles of the empire. It is said that the Duke de Caxias exhibited great agitation and exclaimed, “But the Emperor is mad.” The Emperor sent for Senator Consansão de Sinimbu, a distinguished leader of the liberal party, and confided to him the construction of the ministry. He accepted the responsibility, and proceeded to choose from the ranks of his party some of the ablest and most eminent men in the Empire. For several days the streets of the capital exhibited great animation; the public places were thronged with men discussing the new event, and popular demonstrations in some of the important provinces attested the satisfaction of the country.

The cabinet is composed as follows:

  • President of the council and minister of agriculture, embracing commerce and public works, Senator João Viliva Consansão de Sinimbu.
  • Minister of the empire (interior), Leoncio de Carvalho, LL. D.
  • Minister of finance, Deputy Gaspar da Silveira Martins, LL. D.
  • Minister of justice, La Fayette Rodrigues Pereira, LL. D.
  • Minister of foreign affairs, Baron de Villa Bella.
  • Minister of war, General Marquez do Hevral.
  • Minister of marine, Eduardo de Andrade Pinto, LL. D.
  • The ministry is composed of men of great ability, and it is received by the country with the most marked expression of approval and confidence.

Senator Sinimbu, the chief, is a statesman of large experience, thoroughly educated, acquainted with Europe by actual observation, having married in Dresden; has been deputy, minister plenipotentiary, and president of two provinces, Rio Grande and Bahia. He separated himself from the conservative party in 1858, and was soon recognized as an important liberal leader. He was afterward, successively, minister of justice, of foreign affairs, and of agriculture. His vigorous course while in power in removing some of the judges whom he regarded as corrupt brought him before the chambers, where he was charged with having transcended his constitutional authority, but he triumphed and obtained an act of indemnity, on the ground that his action was justified by the necessity of the case. He is a senator, and has been of the council of state. As the prime minister, he will doubtless endeavor to carry out the grand reforms which he has heretofore advocated with great earnestness.

The new minister of foreign affairs, Baron de Villa Bella, is the leader of the liberal party in the province of Pernambuco, where he resides, and his appointment has been followed by popular demonstrations, which exhibit the rejoicing of the people, who know him as a man and a statesman. He has enjoyed the advantage of European travel, and is said to be an accomplished gentleman of fine attainments. He has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies. He has not heretofore held a place in the ministry.

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Lafayette Rodrigues Pereira, minister of justice, is a man of ability and attainments, distinguished as an advocate, and known to favor republican institutions.

Gaspar da Silveira Martins, the new minister of finance, has a great reputation for ability and eloquence. He is described as a tribune of the people. A powerful debater in the chambers, he has uttered his sentiments with great courage, advocating the separation of the church from the state, and other organic reforms, supported by those who favor a republican system of government. He admires greatly the free institutions of the United States, and cites them as illustrating his views of government. He is a man of high culture, distinguished for philosophical, literary, and classical attainments, and acquainted with modern languages.

General Marquez do Hevral, minister of war, is a great soldier, and probably the most popular man in the empire. He won great distinction in the war with Paraguay; elected senator, upon his arrival in the capital he was received by the greatest popular ovation ever witnessed here, the whole people, native and foreign, giving him an enthusiastic welcome. He is well known as General Ozorio.

Eduardo de Andrade Pinto, the new minister of marine, distinguished advocate, formerly member of the Chamber of Deputies, known for his defense of an economical administration, and the author of the budget of his time, framed on that principle. He has a high reputation for firmness and honesty.

The minister of the empire, Lencio de Carvalho, a scholar, formerly a professor connected with the faculty of San Paulo, of brilliant talents and a decided advocate of republican reforms, including the separation of the church from the state.

Such is the material of the new liberal ministry. It has great intrinsic ability, both intellectual and moral strength, and the confidence of the people throughout the empire. But at the opening of the chambers it must confront a hostile majority. There is in both houses a majority friendly to the late conservative ministry. It seems to be clear that the first measure of the new ministry will be to demand a dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies. The senators hold their places for life.

The Emperor, under the constitution, has the power to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, and he will doubtless yield to the demand of the new ministry, and exercise his authority in their interests. It is understood that he has expressed his purpose to grant all the reforms that they require.

It is certainly true that the Emperor’s own views have undergone a modification since his late visit to the United States.

The imperial government is entering upon a most interesting and, in my judgment, important period of its existence; but to attempt to read its horoscope would be to enter the realm of speculation. It is believed that the people will sustain the liberal ministry, and that the new Chamber of Deputies will be largely composed of members disposed to sympathize with their views and sustain their measures.

I anticipate an agreeable intercourse with the new cabinet, and I believe that the interests of the United States will be promoted by its organization.

I have, &c.,