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Brazilians in Paris: 1919

Brazilians in Paris: 1919

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Published by Teo Soares
About Brazil's participation in the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.
About Brazil's participation in the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

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Published by: Teo Soares on Apr 01, 2013
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04/01/2013

 
Copyright © 2013 Teo Soares. All rights reserved.
B
RAZILIANS IN
P
ARIS
:
 
1919
BY
T
EO
S
OARES
 S
ILLIMAN
C
OLLEGE
 A
DVISOR
:
 
A
DAM
T
OOZE
 A
PRIL
1,
 
2013
 
2
B
RAZILIANS IN
P
ARIS
:
 
1919
P
ARIS
:
 
J
ANUARY
18,
 
1919The wind that blew from the Seine made frost cling to his bones. It swept over theriver’s banks and through the gaps in the wrought-iron fence—a low-grade tornado thatgripped the men now exiting the Quai d’Orsay. As Pandiá Calógeras passed the widewooden doors, he felt cold, and he felt frustrated.
1
 Not that he minded staying with family. The Brazilian delegation had beenassembled in a hurry and proper lodging hadn’t been arranged, so Calógeras had rented acheap apartment next door to his brother’s, but this he didn’t mind—it let him see hisnieces, whom he adored.
2
Nor did he mind that he had not been paid since crossing theAtlantic. Prices had skyrocketed after the war, and Calógeras had footed the bill for thewinter clothes he bought upon arrival, but this he didn’t mind. What had drawn him toParis was not money but “the mission, the high charge
 
for which the Government hassummoned me.”
3
Nor did he mind that Olyntho Magalhães, his co-delegate, had provedto be abysmally incompetent. Olyntho’s many fumbles included reservations at theclearly third-rate Plaza-Hotel, but he was still a “lovable man of good,” if “deplorablefrom the diplomatic point of view.”
4
 Rather, what weighed on Calógeras’ mind were the discriminatory conference

1
Like the remainder of the essay, this paragraph is based on documentary evidence: the Brazilians in Paris repeatedlycomplained about the weather in their diaries and telegrams. In this particular instance, the dramatic details—the “low-grade tornado,” the particular path of the wind—are based on my personal experience at the Seine in December of 2011. While they are imaginative leaps, I felt they were reasonable and honest. Such leaps are made throughout theessay, but elsewhere they are indicated by modifiers such as “probably,” “surely,” and “no doubt.” Where such hedginglanguage is absent, the dramatized account adheres strictly to the footnoted documentary evidence.
2
João Pandiá Calógeras, January 4, 1919, and January 5, 1919, “Diário,” in
Pandiá Calógeras na opinião de seuscontemporaneos
(São Paulo: Salles Oliveira & Cia., 1934), 64.
3
Calógeras, December 17, 1918, “Diário,”
PCOC 
, 61. Calógeras to Gama, January 27, 1919, Arquivos Históricos doItamaraty (AHI), 273/2/9.
4
Calógeras, January 7, 1919, and January 8/9, 1919, “Diário,”
PCOC 
, 64-5.
 
3
regulations that Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister, had just rammedthrough the first preliminary meeting of the powers assembled in Paris. The regulationsaddressed the procedures for the upcoming peace conference, divvying up the workamong the Allies. Therein lay the problem: unlike France, Britain, Italy, Japan, and theUnited States, which the regulations labeled as “Powers with general interests” entitled tomajor roles at the conference, Brazil was a petty power “with special interests.”
5
Itsparticipation, if Clemenceau’s regulations were allowed to stand, would be symbolic atbest.“The role of Brazil is great, and it might grow even greater,” Clemenceau had toldthe Brazilians just that afternoon.
6
How rich, thought Calógeras, coming from a man whonow barred Brazil from the most important international assembly in history. Was theirony in this not obvious? In 1916, Woodrow Wilson, the American president, haddeclared that “the small states of the world have a right to enjoy the same respect for theirsovereignty” as their larger counterparts.
7
To now decree the powers unequal was tobetray the promises made during the war. Had thousands of men not stained Europe redto protect their sovereignty? Had the Allies not spent millions of dollars to fight for aworld ruled by law and not by might? To defend the rights of nations? To safeguard theirintegrity? Their dignity?Had these not been the reasons Brazil had entered the war?

5
Calógeras, January 18, 1919, “Diário,”
PCOC 
, 68-9; Calógeras and Magalhães to Domício, January 19, 1919, AHI227/3/3.
6
Calógeras, January 18, 1919, “Diário,”
PCOC 
, 68-9.
7
Woodrow Wilson, “American Principles” (speech), May 27, 1916, online by Gerhand Peters and John T. Woolley,
 
The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65391.

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