When researching the subject of Brazilian independence from Portugal and the contexts surrounding its peaceful path to independence, one will find two historians standing in the foreground of the study; Kenneth Maxwell and Alan K. Manchester. Kenneth Maxwell is an expert in Portuguese and Brazilian history and currently writes a weekly column for Brazil’s Folha newspaper. Alan Manchester (1897-1983) was an expert on Latin American and South American history and was an authority on economic and political relations between Brazil and Great Britain. In February of 1951, Manchester’s article, “The Recognition of Brazilian Independence”, was published in The Hispanic American Historical Review. Nearly half a century later in April of 2000, Kenneth Maxwell presented a lecture at Harvard University entitled, “Why Was Brazil Different? The Contexts of Independence”. In both articles, the authors highlight the contexts within which Brazil became an independent nation. Though these historians have the same frame of reference, it is evident that over the past fifty years, historian's approach on the topic of Brazilian independence has changed significantly. The grounds for comparison of Manchester and Maxwell’s articles are the differences in their arguments for the major contributors and decisive factors involved in the struggle for Brazilian independence. In addition, the evidence these historians use to support their arguments has also changed. Time has also altered the questions historians ask about the contexts surrounding the independence of Brazil from Portugal.
Alan K. Manchester’s article, “The Recognition of Brazilian Independence”, contains a strong argument in favor of a British preeminence in Brazil’s struggle for independence. He examines the conflict within the context of its three major actors: Brazil, Portugal, and Great Britain. Manchester likens the relationship between these countries to that of a family, “Brazil, the impatient adolescent demanding recognition of its majority; Portugal, the reluctant mother country, seeking to perpetuate the maternal bonds; and Great Britain, the traditional guardian of Portuguese affairs, striving to settle the family row...”. Manchester's article proves that the issue between Portugal and Brazil was not independence, it was the recognition of independence.
Kenneth Maxwell's article highlights multiple contexts in demonstrating why Brazil was different. Rather than debating Manchester’s argument for a strong British influence on Brazilian independence, Maxwell’s article extends historians’ approach by offering new perspectives with a more complex transitions to independence that examines mutually supporting strands of diplomatic, military, and commercial pressure from Great Britain.
The author of “The Recognition of Brazilian Independence”, incorporates extensive research from primary documents, treaties, and diplomatic correspondence as evidence of Great Britain’s role as a mediator between...