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The Coffee Industry's Effect On The Brazilian Economy

2064 words - 9 pages

A. The Plan of Investigation
This investigation unveils to what extent the coffee industry was responsible for the modernization of the Brazilian economy. The investigation focused on the accounts of the coffee industry flourishing in Brazil and the effects of the coffee industry on the economy. In order to get a detailed record of the coffee industry’s effect on the Brazilian economy, one must look at accounts of how coffee shaped Brazil’s commerce and infrastructure. It is important to be aware of the transition period from sugar as Brazil’s major export to coffee. The history of coffee was thoroughly investigated for signs of important effects on the Brazilian economy. The Brazilian state of São Paulo was analyzed because São Paulo is commonly known by the world as “Coffee Land” as Bertita Harding puts in her book The Southern Empire (83).
The two sources chosen for this evaluation, A Visit to King Coffee by Stefan Zweig and A History of Brazil by E. Bradford Burns are evaluated for their origins, purposes, limitations, and values.

B. Summary of Evidence
The Transition from Sugar to Coffee
Coffee took over the once prosperous sugar industry in Brazil. The efficiency and price of the sugar mill in the West Indies sugar mills in the 1860s drove Brazil off the international market (Burns 151). Also, is it important to note that other countries started to experiment with sugar beet, a plant whose roots have a high concentration of sucrose. This reduced the value of the exported sugar from Brazil. As E. Bradfurd Burns put it, the coffee industry repeated many old economic characteristic used in the sugar industry such as having a single crop raised mostly for export and a dependency on foreign markets for prosperity (151).
The History of Coffee in Brazil
There is not much evidence of where the first of the coffee beans originated in Brazil but both Stefan Zweig and Vera Kelsey speculate that Francesco de Melho Palheto was responsible. He was a Portuguese sergeant major who acquired a coffee plant from the wife of the governor of Cayenne, the present day capital of French Guiana in 1727. This acquisition was under the risk of the Cayenne law providing the death sentence to anyone who carried a single bean from the country, but with some convincing, the wife gladly bestowed some plants upon him. Planters into Pará then introduced the first seeds from French Guiana the same year (Burns 152). The coffee industry spread like wildfire and got so serious that coffee planters began to be elevated to nobility by Pedro II in 1841 (Burns 155).
By 1845, Brazil produced forty-five percent of the world’s coffee (Historia). In 1860, Brazil finally began exporting more than it imported and in 1876, Pedro II visited the United States to open political rapprochement for exporting coffee to the United States (Burns 157). The effect of the coffee industry on the Brazilian infrastructure became apparent to the public according to the São Paulo Company of Ports...

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