BRAZILIANS IN PARIS: 1919
BY TEO SOARES SILLIMAN COLLEGE
ADVISOR: ADAM TOOZE APRIL 1, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Teo Soares. All rights reserved.
BRAZILIANS IN PARIS: 1919
PARIS: JANUARY 18, 1919 The wind that blew from the Seine made frost cling to his bones. It swept over the river’s banks and through the gaps in the wrought-iron fence—a low-grade tornado that gripped the men now exiting the Quai d’Orsay. As Pandiá Calógeras passed the wide wooden doors, he felt cold, and he felt frustrated.1 Not that he minded staying with family. The Brazilian delegation had been assembled in a hurry and proper lodging hadn’t been arranged, so Calógeras had rented a cheap apartment next door to his brother’s, but this he didn’t mind—it let him see his nieces, whom he adored.2 Nor did he mind that he had not been paid since crossing the Atlantic. Prices had skyrocketed after the war, and Calógeras had footed the bill for the winter clothes he bought upon arrival, but this he didn’t mind. What had drawn him to Paris was not money but “the mission, the high charge for which the Government has summoned me.”3 Nor did he mind that Olyntho Magalhães, his co-delegate, had proved to be abysmally incompetent. Olyntho’s many fumbles included reservations at the clearly third-rate Plaza-Hotel, but he was still a “lovable man of good,” if “deplorable from the diplomatic point of view.”4 Rather, what weighed on Calógeras’ mind were the discriminatory conference
Like the remainder of the essay, this paragraph is based on documentary evidence: the Brazilians in Paris repeatedly complained about the weather in their diaries and telegrams. In this particular instance, the dramatic details—the “lowgrade 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 the essay, but elsewhere they are indicated by modifiers such as “probably,” “surely,” and “no doubt.” Where such hedging language 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 seus contemporaneos (São Paulo: Salles Oliveira & Cia., 1934), 64. 3 Calógeras, December 17, 1918, “Diário,” PCOC, 61. Calógeras to Gama, January 27, 1919, Arquivos Históricos do Itamaraty (AHI), 273/2/9. 4 Calógeras, January 7, 1919, and January 8/9, 1919, “Diário,” PCOC, 64-5.
regulations that Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister, had just rammed through the first preliminary meeting of the powers assembled in Paris. The regulations addressed the procedures for the upcoming peace conference, divvying up the work among the Allies. Therein lay the problem: unlike France, Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States, which the regulations labeled as “Powers with general interests” entitled to major roles at the conference, Brazil was a petty power “with special interests.”5 Its participation, if Clemenceau’s regulations were allowed to stand, would be symbolic at best. “The role of Brazil is great, and it might grow even greater,” Clemenceau had told the Brazilians just that afternoon.6 How rich, thought Calógeras, coming from a man who now barred Brazil from the most important international assembly in history. Was the irony in this not obvious? In 1916, Woodrow Wilson, the American president, had declared that “the small states of the world have a right to enjoy the same respect for their sovereignty” as their larger counterparts.7 To now decree the powers unequal was to betray the promises made during the war. Had thousands of men not stained Europe red to protect their sovereignty? Had the Allies not spent millions of dollars to fight for a world ruled by law and not by might? To defend the rights of nations? To safeguard their integrity? Their dignity? Had these not been the reasons Brazil had entered the war?
Calógeras, January 18, 1919, “Diário,” PCOC, 68-9; Calógeras and Magalhães to Domício, January 19, 1919, AHI 227/3/3. 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.
THE ENGLISH CHANNEL: APRIL 3, 1917 After the blast there was silence. The roaring steam engines were gone. José da Silva Peixe, the captain, had been asleep for barely an hour; the explosion startled him awake.8 His account of the incident, now held at the Brazilian diplomatic archives, relates that when he retired that night, the Paraná had been sailing through the English Channel at an easy pace.9 It was April 3, 1917, and the war in Europe was entering its thirty-third month; Germany’s renewed blockade of Britain, its third. Brazil remained neutral, however, and the green and yellow flying on the ship’s mast were meant to protect it from the belligerents.10 Not so tonight.11 The engine room was flooded; the lower deck, destroyed. One lifeboat had already been launched into the water by the explosion, and the forty-men crew now crowded into the remaining three, which hung from their davits over the ship’s side.12 Standing inside lifeboat No. 1, José da Silva hesitated. Roll call had shown five crewmen missing. To leave them behind was be to betray his men, but the Paraná was sinking quickly, and he had his other men to think about, those who now pleaded to abandon ship. The possibility that the missing crewmen were dead must have crossed the captain’s mind, for when he finally cast off the lifeboats, he was certain he had been the last man onboard.13 After picking up two stokers (they had escaped from the boiler room through air vents and jumped straight into the sea), the three lifeboats pulled away from the
Magalhães to Muller. April 10, 1917. AHI 227/3/1. Magalhães to Muller. April 10, 1917. AHI 227/3/1. 10 Domício da Gama et al., “The Neutrality Rules Adopted by Brazil,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 60 (1915): 147-154. 11 Magalhães to Muller, April 10, 1917, AHI 227/3/1. 12 For size of the crew, see Estado de São Paulo, April 6. 1917. 13 Magalhães to Muller, April 10, 1917, AHI 227/3/1.
Paraná. José da Silva then saw red and white lights in the distance. Thinking them the signal of a ship coming to their rescue, he prepared to steer the small boats in their direction. That was when he heard the shells being fired. Once, twice—three, four, five times, each shot a rolling thunder. These were proof, José da Silva later told Brazilian officials, of a “premeditated wish to do us all possible harm.” He could do nothing now but watch his ship sink.14 All through the night, the lifeboats churned in the Channel waters, rocked by heavy waves and stormy weather.15 Though they had flares available, the men didn’t signal for help, as they feared that would attract more fire. It was almost noon when they were found by a pair of French torpedo boats, which rescued two thirds of the Brazilian crew. An English cargo ship later came for the rest. On port in Cherbourg, France, the men reported the incident to Brazilian consular officials. One detail stood out to the authorities: the crewmen in lifeboat No. 4 recalled seeing, as they fled the Paraná, the dark silhouette of a submarine gliding underneath.16 Three crewmen died.17 The cargo, 4,270 tons of coffee destined for France, sunk with the ship.18 In Brazil crowds took to the streets. They were so enraged that police in Rio ran additional patrols to stem potential riots, devoting particular attention to the city’s Austrian and German consulates.19 “The Germanics have continued their savage practices, degrading civilization and flooding the seas with the detritus of their crimes,” wrote one newspaper in the wake of
Magalhães to Muller, April 10, 1917, AHI 227/3/1. Magalhães to Muller, April 10, 1917, AHI 227/3/1. 16 Magalhães to Muller. April 10, 1917. AHI 227/3/1. 17 “Notas e Informações,” Estado de São Paulo, April 7. 1917. 18 "Coffee," Wall Street Journal, April 9, 1917, ProQuest: Historical Newspapers Complete, http://search.proquest.com/docview/129629466?accountid=15172. 19 Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. Wherever possible, articles are cited by their headlines, but where no headline is given, the name of the paper opens the citation.
the attack.20 Another paper opined, “We are no longer neutral. Our neutrality was shot and sank to the seafloor tethered to the Brazilian flag that flew atop the Paraná.”21 What troubled the press, however, was not so much the loss of life and material interests as the criminality of Germany’s actions. 22 The particulars of the incident—the submarine’s disregard for the sanctity of a neutral ship, and the savagery conveyed by the five shells—offended in principle.23 The Estado de São Paulo, the largest newspaper in São Paulo and a perennial advocate of liberal causes, deemed the Germans, “capriciously forgotten of all the tenets of humanity and positioned against all the rules of the rights of peoples.”24 These sentiments weren’t new. German disregard for international law had long bothered the liberal luminaries of the Brazilian intellectual elite. Chief among these was Rui Barbosa, the bald, bespectacled sexagenarian journalist and Senator from the northeastern state of Bahia. In Buenos Aires, in 1916, months before Germany sank the Paraná, Rui delivered a speech that cast him as Brazil’s most avid proponent of the war. By ransacking Belgium, Rui told his audience, the Germans had broken promises that dated back to 1839, when the European powers signed a treaty recognizing Belgium’s right to exist. In 1914, as the Kaiser’s army marched east, the German chancellor described that very treaty as a “scrap of paper.”25 Yes, treaties are but scraps of paper, Rui said two years later in Buenos Aires, “but so are contracts.” And laws. And constitutions.
Jornal do Commercio, April 6, 1917, reprinted in Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. O Imperial, April 6, 1917, reprinted in, Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. 22 “O Brasil e a Alemãnha.” Estado de São Paulo, April 9, 1917. Jornal do Commercio, April 6, 1917, reprinted in Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. O Dia, April 5, 1917, reprinted in Estado de São Paulo, April 6, 1917. 23 On other neutral ships being torpedoed: “Notas e Informações.” Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. On the shelling: "Brazilian Papers Demand Action Against Germany," St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 9, 1917, ProQuest: Historical Newspapers Complete, http://search.proquest.com/docview/578090551?accountid=15172. 24 “Notas e Informações,” Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917. 25 Larry Zuckerman, Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 43.
“Larger and smaller scraps of paper, but paper nonetheless. So that all human transactions, all relations of society, all the rights and responsibilities—to family and country and civilization and the State—all fabric of the rational world, in the final analysis, amounts to little more than heaps of paper.”26 To stand idly by as Germany violated its treaties was to condone her assault against a principle fundamental to liberal society: the rule of law. But the matter at hand went far beyond the legal, Rui noted, for laws concern people. Laws, Rui said, “protect homes in defenseless towns; safeguard travelers in transatlantic steamers; ward off mines from the waters reserved for commerce; shield from torpedoes the fishing boats and hospital ships; shelter from bombardment the infirmaries and libraries, the monuments and temples; halt pillaging, the execution of hostages, the killing of the injured, and the poisoning of the drinking water; and guard the women, the children, the elderly, the sick, and the unarmed.”27 Germany’s actions were not only illegal, they were also immoral. If the neutral nations didn’t join in the struggle, Rui continued, “I’ll remain unsure of who will have committed the greater sin against God, the greater evil: those who subjected the world to the horrors of war, or those who let the rights of peoples fade from their conscience….”28 His words soon gained immediate implications. On April 2, 1917, the day before the Paraná was sunk, Woodrow Wilson stood before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. The explicit casus belli were submarine attacks against American merchant ships, as well as the Zimmerman telegram, in which Germany offered support to Mexico in a potential war against the United States.
Rui Barbosa, Problemas de direito internacional (London: Jas. Truscott & Son, 1916), 86. Barbosa, Problemas, 69 28 Barbosa, Problemas, 111
Wilson, however, couched his request in more sweeping language. “The present German submarine warfare against commerce,” he said, “is a warfare against mankind.”29 Stripped of its rhetorical flourishes, Wilson’s message, like Rui’s, was specific and fundamental. Germany’s actions undermined a basic human assumption: that we will refrain from haphazardly harming one another. “Unrestricted submarine warfare”: the phrase has been repeated so often that its meaning has become blunted, but its implications for people at the time were real and frightening. It meant that nowhere in the North Atlantic could sailors think themselves truly safe. It meant that when a ship set out to sea, its return depended not only the skill of its crew and the good will of the weather, but also on the whims of the Germans. Encounters with submarines were, in fact, rare— the sonar wouldn’t be invented until the 1930s, so underwater crafts relied on periscopes to find their targets—but the possibility of such attacks was itself an affront to the covenants made between people. When Wilson said unrestricted submarine warfare violated “all restraints of law,”30 his words had intensely personal implications to anyone whose father or husband or brother made a living on the sea. When Germany sank the Paraná, one of the killed crewmen was survived by his mother.31 This is to say that the attack invalidated another human assumption—that parents oughtn’t bury their children. The Brazilian press reported on Wilson’s speech favorably, and when news about the Paraná reached the country some days later, a tide of anti-German sentiment swept over the papers. Editorialists at the Estado de São Paulo called for official action—if not war, then at least a break in diplomatic relations. “It would be honorable,” one of them
Woodrow Wilson, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress Requesting a Declaration of War Against Germany,” April 2, 1917, online by Gerhand Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65366. 30 Wilson, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress,” American Presidency Project. 31 “Torpedeamento do ‘Paraná,’” Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1917.
wrote, “for our united states in the southern half of our continent to cast their lot, in a fraternal alliance, with the United States to our north.”32 A week passed before Brazil finally broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. The decision was announced in a telegram sent by the Brazilian foreign minister to the German representative in Rio, and his message parroted many of arguments raised in the editorial pages of newspapers. What brought on the break was not so much the particular incident—the torpedoing of one steamer—but the implicit breach of the rules that govern the relations between states. Sure, a neutral ship attempting to run a blockade was liable to capture, but it was not liable to attack, and certainly not without due warning.33 Not only had the German submarine failed to contact the Paraná before opening fire, it had also refused assistance to the survivors—and, worst of all, it had then shelled the sinking ship. The lost lives and cargo were regrettable, but they were made unforgivable by the fact they were “sacrificed without any previous action and against the expressed orders of the Law of Nations, and with an abandonment of the principles accepted in Conventions and adopted by Germany herself.”34 News of the diplomatic rupture made even tiny towns in the Brazilian countryside swell with excitement. In Taubaté, 5,000 people took to the streets. In Porto Feliz, they sang the Marseillaise until 10 p.m. In Amparo, the allied flags were paraded alongside Brazil’s own green and yellow, and the town’s 120-men reserve unit made preparations for war.35 “Germany has managed to make herself so universally loathed that wherever war is declared against her, the people feel nothing but joy and enthusiasm,” wrote one
Estado de São Paulo, April 6, 1917. Müller to Pauli, April 11, 1917, in The Brazilian Green Book: Consisting of diplomatic documents relating to Brazil’s attitude with regard to the European war, 1914-1917 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1918), 29. 34 Müller to Pauli. April 11, 1917, BGB, 30. 35 “O Brasil e a Allemanha,” Estado de São Paulo, April 12, 1917.
newspaper. “Now it’s our turn to break off relations with Germany, and here, too, the general response is joy.”36 But elation could also turn violent. In Campinas and São Paulo, the windows of German businesses and schools were shattered with rocks.37 In Rio, celebrations took jubilant cariocas to the building of the Jornal do Commercio, where Rui Barbosa, the liberal Senator, was slated to speak. Rui, however, was nonplussed: why had Brazil not gone further? Why were Brazilians so thrilled at a mere break in relations while their brethren to the north had declared full war? “Why, gentlemen?” Rui asked. “Is it because international law changes at the equator, granting one set of rights to the Yankees and another to us? Or is it because Brazilian lives are worth less than their American counterparts? Or because the sovereignty of a great power is different from that of a smaller one?”38 To stand idly by, Rui thought, was to condone Germany’s encroachment on Brazilian sovereignty, and this had sweeping consequences. If Brazil failed to take action, then how could it expect other nations to respect the integrity of its territory, the security of its people? War was necessary, said Rui, “to justify our claim over our portion of Earth.” He went on: “Only then will I see fulfilled, in my old age, the patriotic dream of my youth, a Brazil that will resemble, as John Milton once wrote, ‘a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks.’”39 It would be another five months before Brazil finally shed the shackles of passivity. The day was October 25, 1917, and the immediate casus belli was the sinking
“Cartas do Rio,” Estado de São Paulo, April 12, 1917. Estado de São Paulo, April 13, 1917. 38 Rui Barbosa, “O Dever do Brasil” (speech), April 14, 1917, in vol. 44 of Obras Completas de Rui Barbosa (OCRB), 52-53. 39 Rui Barbosa, “O Dever do Brasil,” vol. 44, OCRB, 57.
of the Macau, the fourth Brazilian steamer torpedoed by the Germans.40 The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, voted for war to the tune of 149 against one. In the Senate, the vote was unanimous.41 “We’re witnessing a rare occurrence,” wrote the Estado de São Paulo, the liberal newspaper: “The people and their government finally in absolute agreement over a question that affects profoundly our greatest moral and material interests.”42 And the people were indeed invested. At a gathering of workers in Rio, one labor organizer cried, “We must help ease the suffering of our nation, lending our might to our country, shedding even our blood—if blood be necessary to wash the crimes of the Germans against our national sovereignty.”43
PARIS: JANUARY 18, 1919 The Quai d’Orsay was not literally the French Foreign Ministry. Quai was French for dock, as Pandiá Calógeras probably knew; his mother, a daughter of the French upper class, must have taught him so.44 “Quai d’Orsay” was in fact the name of the wharf that housed the ministry, on the left bank of the Seine. So beautiful did the river appear from that location that artists sometimes assembled their easels by its shores to capture the scenery.45 Probably no painters sat on the embankment that afternoon. It was January and
Wenceslau Braz, “Message from the president of the republic to the national congress,” October 25, 1917, in BGB, 88. 41 “O Brasil na Guerra,” Estado de São Paulo, October 27, 1917. 42 “Notas e Informações,” Estado de São Paulo, October 27, 1917. 43 “Attitude dos Operarios Cariocas em Face da Situação,” Estado de São Paulo, October 27, 1917. 44 Antonio Gontijo de Carvalho, “Biographia,” in PCOC, 9. 45 Thomas Girtin, for example, produced a couple of drawings of the Parisian scenery as seen from the Quai d’Orsay. “View of the Tuilleries and Bridge” (drawing), 1802, accession number B1981.25.2613, Yale Center for British Art. Also: Girtin, “View of the Palais des Tuileries and the Louvred from the Quai d’Orsay” (drawing), 1801-2, ID number 11784, British Museum. For a literary description of the Quai d’Orsay, see Stèphane Lauzanne, “The Mirror of the Quai d’Orsay,” in The North American Review 216:802 (1922): 323-331.
cold, and the trees that lined the river had been stripped of their foliage. What color there was came only from the small boats that might have cruised the waters. This was fitting: when Pandiá Calógeras left the ministry on January 18, 1919, not even the Seine could have bettered his mood. Beady-eyed and moon-faced, Calógeras wore his hair swept back and his moustache rigid.46 He was also short: a family photograph, taken on the stairs that led to the Calógeras home in Rio, showed him struggling to tower over his wife and daughters despite standing a full two steps above them.47 A carioca by birth and an engineer by training, he dedicated his life to public service. Though young—he was six months short of fifty when he arrived in France—Calógeras was a long-time member of the Chamber of Deputies. There, he had earned a reputation as a hard worker and meticulous orator: his long speeches, delivered in his deep metallic voice, were often read full-length from notes.48 Calógeras was an early addition to the Brazilian delegation. Domício da Gama, the newly minted Brazilian foreign minister, offered him the position in mid-December of 1918, over a lunch meeting at the Foreign Ministry (known as “Itamaraty” after the palace that housed it in Rio). The armistice had been signed a month prior, and the war machinery assembled in Europe was finally winding down; the peace conference, just gearing up. Even though Brazil’s contributions to the war effort were negligible, the country had formally declared war on Germany, so it followed, logically and legally, that the country would have a hand at making the peace. The country’s invitation to Paris, however, still hadn’t come.
“Calogeras em Versalhes” (photograph), 1919, PCOC, 62. “Calogeras e sua Familia” (photograph), undated, PCOC, 21. 48 Sertório de Castro, “Calógeras,” PCOC, 27.
The great powers had already begun their own preparations. The British, for example, reserved rooms for some 400 people at the Hotel Majestic.49 Domício learned this from his ministers in London and Paris, who also told him that the preliminary meetings, held before the conference, would be limited to Britain, France, Italy, and the United States. Not even Japan would join them.50 The smaller nations would attend only the peace conference proper and only to deal with matters of their immediate concern.51 To Domício, this was unacceptable. The Brazilian public had been expecting their country to play some role in Paris.52 After all, hadn’t Brazilians entered the war precisely to assert their sovereignty? How could they do so if Brazil were snubbed at the conference? Domício set to work. He instructed his ministers in Washington and London to press his American and British counterparts for an invitation.53 At virtually the same time, he telegraphed a roster of the delegation to Olyntho Magalhães, his minister in Paris, and instructed him to inform the French government that Olyntho himself would serve as a delegate to the preliminary meetings, pending only an invitation.54 His strategy, it seems, was to present Brazilian participation as fait accompli. Domício had yet to secure a seat in either the preliminary meetings or the conference proper when he asked Calógeras to represent the country in both. Calógeras knew this invitation stood on shaky grounds, but he was nonetheless elated.55 To a man whose greatest ambition was to “give everything (and there’s so little to give!) to our
Magalhães to Gama, November 27, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. Fontoura to Gama, December 5, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. 51 Magalhães to Gama, December 4, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. 52 Gama to Ipanema, December 5, 1919, AHI 273/2/11. 53 Gama to Fontoura, December 5, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. Gama to Ipanema, December 2, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. 54 Gama to Magalhães, November 25, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. Gama to Magalhães, December 5, 1918, AHI 273/2/11. 55 Calógeras, December 16, 1918, “Diário,” PCOC, 68.
beloved Brazil,” the peace proceedings were an “unique occasion,” he wrote in his diary.56 There would be such lofty questions discussed in Paris! The world awaited reconstruction, Domício had told him as they ate. There were new borders to draw. There were domestic economies to rebuild. There were war debts to pay and indemnities to claim. There were Germany’s colonies to redistribute and the Ottoman Empire to dismember. There were treaties— signed in Vienna, 1815; London, 1839; and Frankfurt, 1871—to rewrite. And there was the League of Nations—“that ill-defined but weighty issue, that golden apple of discord, that eventual battlefield where divergent visions of Man and World Order will meet”—to create.57 No self-respecting statesman could pass up such an opportunity. Yet a month later, as Calógeras exited the Quai d’Orsay into cold Paris and glanced at the Seine—its shores colorless, its waters running no more or less fluidly than the waters of any other river in the world—he may well have wondered if he shouldn’t have stayed home. Domício’s maneuvering had been successful, and the Brazilians had been awarded a seat at the conference, but the whole enterprise now seemed like an empty promise. The question troubling Calógeras that afternoon was in essence bureaucratic. At its heart was a single paragraph of a single article of the regulations voted by (or as Calógeras might put it, imposed upon) the first preliminary meeting of the nations assembled in Paris. It read: The belligerent Powers with special interests (Belgium, Brazil, the British Dominions and India, China, Cuba, Greece, Guatemala, Hayti, the Hedjaz, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Serbia, Siam, the Czecho-Slovak Republic) shall attend the sessions at which questions
Calógeras, December 16, 1918, “Diário,” PCOC, 68. Calógeras, December 13, 1918, “Diário,” PCOC, 66.
concerning them are discussed.58 By itself, this clause was sufficiently problematic—who was to decide which questions concerned which countries? Did freedom of navigation concern land-locked Czechoslovakia?—but it was made worse by the paragraph that preceded it: The belligerent Powers with general interests (the United States of America, the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan) shall attend all sessions and commissions.59 Not only had the Great Powers arbitrarily excluded the smaller powers from debating certain questions, they also excluded them from all commissions that were to address the most important issues before the conference. While countries with general interests would “attend all sessions and commissions,” no mention of commissions was made in the paragraph about countries with special interests.60 Calógeras found this outrageous. Special interests? Nonsense! Brazilians had the same general interests as the French and the British and the Americans: to safeguard their citizens and their rights as a nation. Brazil had entered the war to defend its sovereignty, to stake its claim on the world stage. The regulations of the conference squashed those ambitions. The Brazilians in Paris, it seemed, would be little more than spectators, made to watch as the Great Powers reinvented the world. “The preposterousness of these regulations leaps to the eyes,” Calógeras wrote to Domício that evening. “The great powers have cast themselves as judge and jury over the interests of the smaller ones.”61 This complaint was by no means exclusive to Brazil. Each small power had a
“Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 1, Session of January 18, 1919” (minutes), in vol. 3 of Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Paris Peace Conference, 1919 (FRUS), 172. 59 “Preliminary Peace Conference…Session of January 18, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 172. 60 “Preliminary Peace Conference…Session of January 18, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 172. 61 Calógeras and Magalhães to Domício, January 19, 1919, AHI 227/3/3.
particular casus belli to join the fight against Germany, but they all shared a very general interest in their own sovereignty. When Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister, told the conference that the war had been “a crusade of humanity for Right,”62 when Woodrow Wilson said that “the fortunes of all peoples are involved,”63 their words had immediate and tangible meaning for nations like Belgium. It is because Germany had not respected the rights of nations that some 60,000 Belgian men had died. It was clear that the Great Powers had “mouthed the words but hadn’t taken them to heart or given them real thought,” Calógeras wrote in his diary. “This situation is intolerable, and all other delegates share in my sentiments.”64 Domício, however, didn’t agree. A challenge to the regulations “would be both impolitic and vain,” he wrote in a telegram.65 That Brazil had even secured a seat at the conference was an accomplishment; why jeopardize that position by launching a moral crusade against the Great Powers? The regulations may even prove providential, averting gridlock. And most importantly, Domício wrote, bickering over these ideological matters might compromise Brazil’s “concrete claims, which are of more immediate interest to us.”66 So interested was Domício in these claims that they would come to dictate Brazilian diplomacy in Paris for the next five months.
SANTOS: OCTOBER 26, 1917 “A little pinkish mullatto,” was what a close friend called Domício da Gama.
“Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 1, Session of January 18, 1919” (minutes), in FRUS, vol. 3, 162. “Preliminary Peace Conference… January 18, 1919,” in FRUS, vol. 3, 165. 64 Calógeras, “Diário,” January 20, 1919, PCOC, 69-70. 65 Gama to Calógeras, January 25, 1919, AHI 227/3/18. 66 Gama to Calógeras, January 25, 1919, AHI 227/3/18.
“Brûle du soleil,” another friend suggested.67 What caught the eye, beyond his skin, a shade darker than that of most politicians at the time, was his hair: combed back and very shiny, the black strands very black and the white ones cast of pure silver.68 Tall and slender, the foreign minister had a “sober elegance” about himself.69 He had been the second Brazilian ambassador to the United States, which is to say that he had been the second Brazilian ambassador ever; in 1910, when he assumed the position, all other Brazilian representatives abroad were mere “ministers.” The ambassadorship to Washington had been created in 1905 as a sign of Brazilian-American friendship, and both Domício and his predecessor had been handpicked for the position by the foreign minister at the time.70 Domício’s stint in the United States scored him prestige among Brazilian diplomats, and also an “exotic and quite complicated” American wife, as a colleague later wrote.71 Domício had been abroad when Brazil entered the war. He returned to Rio in 1918 at the request of Rodrigues Alves, the newly elected president, who asked him to lead the Foreign Ministry. Domício, however, soon saw his position compromised: after being elected, Rodrigues Alves fell victim to the Spanish Flu. The president died in January 1919, only two months after his term was set to begin (he had been too ill to take office), and a new election was called for April. When the Brazilian delegation left for Paris, Domício was in limbo, the cabinet member of a deceased president. Retaining his
Heitor Lyra, Minha vida diplomática (Lisboa: Centro do Livro Brasileiro, 1972), 142. “Domício da Gama” (photograph), undated, Academia Brasileira de Letras, http://www.academia.org.br/abl/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?sid=307. 69 Lyra, Minha vida diplomática, 142. 70 E. Bradford Burns, The Unwritten Alliance: Rio-Branco and Brazilian-American Relations (New York, Columbia University Press, 1966), 98-9, 141. 71 Lyra, Minha vida diplomática, 141, 143.
job demanded that he play politics. In the Brazilian Old Republic of the early twentieth century, this meant one thing: appeasing the political elite of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. This was the era of café com leite politics, dominated by powerful coffee planters in the state of São Paulo and, to a lesser extent, by agrarian interests in the large (and milk-producing) state of Minas Gerais. Brazil’s was an export-based economy whose products included sugar, tobacco, cocoa, cotton, and rubber, but these were pittances compared to coffee, harvested from the fertile terra roxa soils of São Paulo.72 On good years, the state produced 65 to seventy percent of the country’s coffee, and duties leveraged on São Paulo’s exports accounted for thirty to forty percent of the federal government’s revenue.73 This translated into political leverage: out of the eleven presidential contests held between 1894 and 1930, six were taken by men from São Paulo. (Rodrigues Alves himself had been a paulista governor). Another three went to mineiros.74 The oligarchs institutionalized their political machinery as regional parties, namely the Partido Republicano Paulista (PRP) and the Partido Republicano Mineiro (PRM).75 National parties waxed and waned onto the political scene, but they amounted to little more than coalitions of their regional counterparts.76 In each national contest, the PRP and PRM colluded to nominate an “official” candidate, and together they provided the votes to see their man into office. Suffrage was not tied to property, being extended to
William Glade, “Latin America and the international economy, 1870-1914,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America Vol. IV, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986). 73 E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 263. 74 Boris Fausto, “Society and Politics,” in Brazil: Empire and Republic, 1822-1930, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 272. 75 Fausto, “Society and Politics,” 270-1. 76 Fausto, “Society and Politics,” 266.
all literate males over 21, but given that literacy rates hovered between 15 and 25 percent, turnout was perennially low. In 1922, for example, the tallied votes corresponded to 1.9 percent of the population.77 This is to say that national politics reflected not popular sentiment but the whims of the oligarchs. Domício da Gama took the Foreign Ministry hoping to remain aloof from domestic politics, but surely he understood the mechanics of power in Rio.78 Brazil, he knew, had entered the Great War with the blessing of the paulista coffee growers; when Congress voted for war on October 26, 1917, the state’s coffee exchange in Santos passed a resolution supporting the government’s decision.79 Now that the war was over, the interests of the São Paulo planters probably occupied Domício’s mind. First there was the money owed for Brazilian coffee sold to Germany. At the time the war began, 64,000 tons of coffee belonging to São Paulo had been stored in Hamburg and Bremen. Another 48,000 tons were stored in Antwerp, which was itself soon occupied by Germany. Fearing the German government might confiscate the coffee—it had entered the country under the auspices of a British firm, technically making it enemy contraband—the Brazilian government intervened on São Paulo’s behalf and brokered a deal: instead of seizing the coffee, the German government would buy it, and the total sum of the sale, roughly 90 million Marks, would be deposited in the Bank of Bleichröder, in Berlin.80 What appeared to be a straightforward transaction was made more interesting by the fact that Germany subsequently embargoed the money. This was problematic for
Fausto, “Society and Politics,” 279. Lyra, Minha vida diplomática,145. 79 “A bolsa official de café approva um voto de apoio ao governo,” Estado de São Paulo, October 27, 1917. 80 “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11.
obvious reasons—access to one’s own deposits is a basic tenet of banking—but also because the coffee had been originally shipped to Europe as collateral for loans issued by British and French lenders. Making matters worse was the fact that the interest rate on the 90 million Marks sitting in the Bleichröder accounts was lower than the interest rate on the original loans.81 Had São Paulo been able to withdraw the money, it might have been able to pay its creditors in London and Paris, but since Berlin had proved uncooperative, the interest on the British and French loans had mounted. By 1918, it had been mounting for nearly four years. The first Brazilian objective in Paris, then, was to guarantee São Paulo’s money. This must have seemed simple compared to the country’s second “concrete claim”: securing ownership of the German merchant ships seized by Brazil two years prior. There were 46 of them, formerly bearing names like Prussia, Steiermark, and Frida Wörmann, but now sailing as Cabedello, Camamú, and Macapá.82 They had been stationed in Brazil on June 2, 1917, when the Brazilian president signed a decree “requisitioning all German merchant ships anchored in the Republic’s ports.”83 Though “urgently necessary,” the president told Congress, his measure was “without any notion of confiscation, which is repugnant to the spirit of our legislation.”84 Be that as it may: by the evening of June 3, 1917, all German ships anchored in Rio had been boarded by Brazilian crews. As the green and yellow climbed their masts, cheers erupted from crowds on land and sailors in nearby boats.85 In one fell swoop, Brazil increased the size
“Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11. “Relação especificada dos vapores que eram allemães em junho de 1917 e requisitados pelo Brasil,” AHI 273/2/11. 83 Wenceslau Braz, June 2, 1917, AHI 321/1/13 84 Wenceslau Braz, address to congress, May 26, 1917, in BGB, 41-2. 85 “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11. “Brasil e Allemanha,” Estado de São Paulo, June 3, 1917.
of its merchant navy by roughly seventy percent.86 The confiscation—or “requisition”—of the ships was timely. With German submarines circling the North Atlantic, the European powers were hesitant to risk their ships in trips for non-essential imports, like coffee. Brazil, with its small merchant navy, had always relied on European vessels to move its product, but by 1917, the number of foreign ships docking at Brazilian ports had fallen by sixty percent.87 France, in particular, had entertained an embargo on import of Brazilian coffee as early as December of 1916. The country already had two years worth of the stuff in storage, said a member of the French parliament at the time. Why not follow Britain’s example and embargo the product altogether? Not only would this free up shipping, it would also prevent gold from leaving French vaults, shoring up the Franc vis-à-vis other currencies.88 The French legislature took up the question, and by March 1917, it had banned all foreign trade, save merchandise purchased by the state or exempted by special arrangement.89 Brazilian coffee fell under the latter category, to be freely imported until June of 1917. The French government pledged to renew the exemption thereafter—but only on the condition that the coffee be transported aboard Brazilian ships.90 Should they fall prey to German submarines, all the French would lose was the coffee. So it wasn’t long after the Brazilian flags were hoisted up the masts of the German ships that the Foreign Ministry leased thirty of them to France. In exchange, the French government agreed to buy 2 million bags of coffee (some 130,000 tons), as well
Based on tonnage. In July 1916, Brazil owned 169 merchant vessels for a total of 297,800. The 46 captured ships weighed in at 216,000 tons. Figures from Eugenio Vargas Garcia, O Brasil e a Liga das Nações (1919-1926): vencer ou não perder (Porto Alegre: Editora da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 2000), 40-1. 87 Bill Albert, South America and the First World War: The Impact of the War on Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 40-5, 79. 88 Magalhães to Müller, December 2, 1916, AHI 227/3/1. 89 Magalhães to Müller, March 26, 1917, AHI 227/3/1. 90 Magalhães to Müller, April 4, 1917, AHI 227/3/1.
as 100 million Francs worth of other Brazilian goods, all of which would be transported aboard the thirty leased vessels.91 It was an ideal arrangement: it ensured the French would continue to import Brazilian coffee (no doubt appeasing the café com leite oligarchs), and it augmented the transport capabilities of the Allies, who needed to ferry food and soldiers from America to Europe. The American ambassador in Rio was himself jockeying for use of the requisitioned ships, but “given the urgent need for these vessels in the North Atlantic,” he happily deferred to the French.92 As the war wound to a close, however, questions arose as to the legality of Brazil’s actions. No one seemed to know what to label the German ships. They were not spoils of war, for Brazil was not a belligerent when their seizure occurred. (True, Rio had revoked neutrality in the conflict, but it had neither taken part in hostilities nor aided one side or the other, so according to international law, it remained neutral by default.93) Making matters worse was the language chosen by the president when he addressed Congress on the matter. The ships, he had insisted, weren’t confiscated; they were requisitioned, a measure “based upon the principles of the Convention signed at The Hague on October 18, 1907.”94 This meant nothing: on October 18, 1907, no fewer than thirteen conventions were signed at The Hague, and five of them dealt with ships and naval warfare.95 It seemed, however, that he was invoking Convention V, which held that a neutral state might use a belligerent’s property “to the extent that it is absolutely necessary.”96 Accordingly, the president had told Congress that requisitioning the
“Contrat d’affretement au gouvernement français de navires du Lloyd Brésilien,” December 3, 1917, AHI 273/2/11. Morgan to Peçanha, November 2, 1917, AHI 273/2/11. 93 “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11. 94 Wenceslau Braz, address to congress, May 26, 1917, in BGB, 42. 95 “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11. 96 This, in fact, was the assumption made by the official compiling the dossier. “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11. “Convention V: Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land,” The Hague, 18 October
German ships was an “urgent necessity,” and his decree had been meant to fulfill “the necessities of shipping and commerce.”97 But if the president justified the measure on the grounds of its absolute necessity, then why did the Foreign Ministry later refer to the requisitioned ships as “reparations” for the torpedoed Brazilian vessels? Only three days after the decree was signed, the Itamaraty issued a telegram that described the ships as collateral, to be held until the German government reimbursed Brazil for the sunken steamers. “Such a sequestration is a simple measure of precaution,” it read. But “if satisfaction demanded continues to be refused,” the ships “can incontestably be used for the reparation of the injured interests.”98 Legally, this was an entirely different argument. By the end of the war, the Brazilians themselves recognized the precariousness of their claim. “It is unbecoming for a country to show itself so uncertain and dubious in defending its deeds,” read a 1919 Itamaraty dossier issued to its delegation in Paris. The same document, nonetheless, offered yet a third explanation for the measure, this one amounting to a constitutional punt: Brazil had seized the ships neither as reparations nor on the grounds of urgent necessity, but “in the exercise of eminent domain, which the local sovereign holds over all property under its jurisdiction.”99 This was a preposterous argument, but no doubt Domício da Gama expected Pandiá Calógeras and the remainder of the Brazilian delegation in Paris to do whatever was necessary to secure the 46 ships. Along with the money on deposit in Berlin, the ships were the claims of immediate interest to the café com leite oligarchs. These were, as
1907, online at International and Humanitarian Law: Treaties and Documents, International Committee of the Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/200?opendocument. Accessed March 29, 2013. 97 Wenceslau Braz, address to congress, May 26, 1917, in BGB, 41-42. Emphasis added. Wenceslau Braz, June 2, 1917, AHI 321/1/13. Emphasis added. 98 Peçanha to Obermüller, June 5, 1917, in BGB, 46-47. 99 “Dossier,” AHI 273/2/11.
well, the questions on the mind of Epitácio Pessoa as he crossed the Atlantic on his way to Paris.
RIO DE JANEIRO: DECEMBER 22, 1918 Epitácio had been no one’s first choice to head the Brazilian delegation at the conference. Public consensus held that the post would go to Rui Barbosa, the liberal senator from Bahia.100 He was an obvious candidate, having been among the most enthusiastic supporters of the war. Further, he had a proven diplomatic record: in 1907, Rui had served as the Brazilian delegate to the Second Hague Conference, where he had argued so zealously for liberal principles that Brazilian newspapers later dubbed him “Eagle of the Hague.”101 Particularly noteworthy had been his stance on a project for an International Court of Justice. The 17-nation court would permanently sit nine major powers, while the rest of the world was to take turns on the remaining eight seats, each country’s tenure determined according to a three-tiered classification system that relegated Brazil to the bottom-most tier.102 “Sovereignty is absolute and knows no classification,” an outraged Rui had told the general assembly at The Hague.103 His vocal opposition to the project had galvanized other second- and third-tiered nations, whose delegates staunchly backed his challenge to the major powers. The debate in 1907 had ended in a stalemate, itself a victory for Brazil.104 Over a decade later, on December 3, 1918, Rodrigues Alves, the ailing Brazilian
Vargas Garcia, O Brasil e a Liga das Nações, 29. “Notícias Diversas,” Estado de São Paulo, December 12, 1909. 102 Burns, Unwritten Alliance, 121-122. 103 Rui Barbosa quoted in Burns, Unwritten Alliance, 124. 104 Burns, Unwritten Alliance, 126.
president, formally invited Rui Barbosa to head the Brazilian delegation to Paris.105 Rui, however, declined. The invitation, he wrote in a letter to the president, “came too late,” arriving at Rui’s doorstep on December 5.106 In order to get to Paris in time for the conference, Rui would need to depart immediately, and this left no time to prepare. But the invitation was also late in another sense: it arrived after the Jornal do Commercio, an occasional mouthpiece for the federal government, implied that Domício da Gama would head the Brazilian delegation in his capacity as foreign minister.107 This slighted Rui. “For four years now this war has demanded, almost exclusively, my every effort, imposing itself before me as the largest human movement in all of history,” he wrote. “I must confess I had entertained, briefly, the hope that it would fall on my shoulders to speak for Brazil….”108 That Domício had been named before him, even if unofficially, must have so spited Rui that he refused to accept the position.109 Domício later said he had nothing to do with the story in the Jornal do Commercio, but he did, in fact, have his own designs for the Brazilian delegation.110 A colleague at the Foreign Ministry wrote that Domício had entertained the idea of heading the delegation “ever since accepting the invitation to take over the Itamaraty.”111 Domício had also been laboring under the assumption that the British and the Americans were sending their foreign ministers to the conference, and he felt the Brazilians should follow suit. And as the former ambassador to the United States, Domício was well acquainted
Vargas Garcia, O Brasil e a Liga das Nações, 29, note 13. Barbosa to Alves, December 8, 1818, reproduced in Estado de São Paulo, December 13, 1918. 107 “Varias,” November 24, 1918, Jornal do Commercio, quoted in Barbosa to Alves, December 8, 1818, itself reproduced in Estado de São Paulo, December 13, 1918. See also Rui Barbosa, “O Caso Internacional” (speech), April 4, 1919, in OCRB, vol. 46, book 1, 220-2. 108 Barbosa to Alves, December 8, 1818, reproduced in Estado de São Paulo, December 13, 1918. 109 Barbosa, “O Caso Internacional,” OCRB, vol. 46, 220. 110 Barbosa to Alves. December 8, 1818, reproduced in Estado de São Paulo, December 13, 1918. 111 Lyra, Minha vida diplomática,157.
with several of the American players in Paris.112 Surely his contacts would serve him well in the politicking of the conference.113 But Domício, too, would be barred from Paris. As the conference neared, the press grew impatient at the uncertain composition of the Brazilian delegation, blaming Domício for the whole affair. “Like never before,” wrote the Estado de São Paulo, “Brazil seems inert, or else floundering, disoriented, as though in shadows.” It went on: Sources close to the Itamaraty tell us that the foreign minister himself has resolved to go to Europe, heading the Brazilian delegation. And those news, which at first were only rumors, now gain greater currency, gain weight, all to the palpable—why not say it?—to the palpable disgust of the general opinion. We welcomed our old ambassador in Washington when he was appointed to the foreign ministry; and, for that very reason, we refuse to admit that his first act in office is a disservice to Brazil, for such is Ruy Barbosa’s exclusion from a post that, unquestionably, is his by a consensus of the people.114 Rui had not even been invited when this story ran, but it didn’t matter: public opinion was already decidedly against Domício.115 That same day, the foreign minister telegraphed Washington to say he wouldn’t attend the conference for “reasons of internal politics.”116 The delegation, therefore, remained without a head. Then, three days before Christmas, Domício da Gama paid a house visit to Epitácio Pessoa, a Senator from the northeastern state of Paraíba.117 If only Epitácio spoke better English (an observer in Paris remarked he understood it “imperfectly, if at all”), he would have been the perfect man for the post.118 Fifty-four at the time, Epitácio wore his hair swept sideways and his
Epitácio to Gama, February 7, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Lyra, Minha vida diplomática, 157. 114 “O Brasil e a Paz,” Estado de São Paulo, December 3, 1918. 115 Another scathing editorial: “As interinidades, o Sr. Domicio, e a Conferencia da Paz,” Estado de São Paulo, December 12, 1918. 116 Magalhães to Gama, December 3, 1918, AHI 235/4/4. 117 “Conferencia do Sr. Epitacio Pessoa com o Ministro do Exterior,” Estado de São Paulo, December 23, 1918. 118 David Hunter Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928), vol. 1, 125.
moustache thick, so it bristled against his lower lip; in photographs, the upturned tips of his handlebar give the impression of a perpetual smile. Though no Rui Barbosa, Epitácio had the makings of a liberal. On the night the Brazilian monarchy fell, a 24-year-old Epitácio was sitting at the house of the coup’s instigator and first president of the Old Republic.119 Later, Epitácio co-authored the Brazilian civil code and served as both minister of justice and attorney general. By 1918, he was a well-respected jurist and public man. A few days after Domício’s visit, Epitácio boarded a transatlantic steamer destined to a conference that promised to remake the modern world. Stashed in the hull of the Curvelo were supplies for the Brazilian delegation in Paris: 1,984 lbs of rice; 1,322 lbs of beans; 3,968 lbs of sugar; 992 lbs of flour; 551 lbs of coffee; 529 lbs of lard; 294 jars of fruit preserves; fifty jars of marmalade; 56 jars of jam; fifty chickens; one dozen erasers; one box of Hotchkiss-brand staples; one Hotchkiss-brand stapler; 3 Corona typewriters with ribbons; and one Remington typewriter, model 11-B.120 Onboard, Epitácio passed his time hunched over one of these typewriters, preparing memoranda about São Paulo’s money in the Bank of Bleichröder and the 46 requisitioned German ships. He wrote these memos in Portuguese and translated them into French, but the Curvelo reached Havre before he could have them put into English.121
PARIS: JANUARY 27, 1919 The European weather didn’t agree with Pandiá Calógeras, and neither did the flu
Michael Streeter, Epitácio Pessoa (London: Haus Publishing, 2010), 16-7. The list of items comes from three receipts, dated December 26, 1918, December 30, 1918, and February 14, 1919, filed at AHI 227/2/7. 121 Pessoa to Gama, January 14, 1919, in vol. 14 of Obras Completas de Epitácio Pessoa (OCEP), 7. Pessoa to Gama, February 1, 1919, OCEP, vol. 14, 8.
pandemic that now swept the continent. By the time Epitácio arrived in Paris on January 27 to take the helm of the Brazilian delegation, Calógeras was already nursing the first signs of an illness that would leave him bedridden for a whole month.122 It had been a trying couple of weeks for Calógeras. The regulations presented at the first preliminary meeting had left him fuming. In this he was not alone. By January of 1919, twenty-nine nations were represented in Paris. They had been brought from places like Liberia and Siam on the promise that they would have a hand in reshaping the world.123 Now they were discovering that their participation would be minimal at best, and they were growing restless.124 Particularly outraged were countries that had bled in the war, like Portugal, which sent 60,000 soldiers to the Western front, and Belgium, which, in the wording of wartime propaganda, had been raped by the Germans.125 Calógeras himself met with several representatives from small powers. “The Conference,” he told the Serbian delegate, “has become a dictatorship of the five Great Powers; the League of Nations implies the equality of nations, but in the Conference that aspires to create it, the organizing principle is sheer strength….”126 The rumblings of these small-power talks reached the Quai d’Orsay, making themselves heard inside the office of the French foreign minister. It was a wood-paneled room decorated with faded tapestries, and in it, behind closed doors (and closed windows; the room was often hot, but the French balked at any suggestions of letting in fresh air), met the five Great Powers.127 This Supreme Council was the effective
He first mentions his illness in his diary on January 23, 1919, and after a month-long hiatus, he resumes the diary on March 6, 1919, noting he hadn’t written during February because he had been ill. “Diário,” PCOC, 72, 76. 123 Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: six months that changed the world (New York: Random House, 2002), 56. 124 Olyntho and Magalhães to Gama, January 23, 1919, AHI 227/3/3. 125 MacMillan, Paris 1919, 57. Zuckerman, The Rape of Belgium. 126 Calógeras, January 22, 1919, “Diário,” PCOC, 70. 127 MacMillan, Paris 1919, 54.
governing body of the conference, made up of representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. Though Calógeras labeled them dictators, the men in the Supreme Council thought themselves more analogous to a cabinet within a representative system of government.128 The British Foreign Ministry’s records coyly referred to these meetings as “conversations.”129 On the Wednesday following the first plenary session, the topic of conversation at the Supreme Council was the participation of small powers in the commission that would design the League of Nations. Woodrow Wilson, the League’s chief exponent, had assumed that only the Great Powers would take part in the commission. They would consult representatives from other nations, and they would submit the final project to a vote at the general assembly of the conference, but the League itself would be designed by the Great Powers alone.130 Lloyd George, the British prime minister, saw matters differently. “The League of Nations, however important it might be to the Great Powers, must be even more important to the small Powers, since, if efficacious, it would constitute their shield and protection,” he said. This made sense: while the Great Powers could count on their large armies and powerful guns, the small powers had no recourse but international law. Lloyd George felt the Supreme Council should choose some smaller nations to join the commission.131 Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister, took this a step further. Indeed,
MacMillan, Paris 1919, 58. The English-language minutes of the meetings, prepared by the British delegation, bear headings that read either, “Secretary’s notes of a conversation held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay,” or “Notes on Conversations Held in the Office of M. Pichon at the Quai d’Orsay.” FRUS, vol. 3. 130 “Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, January 22, 1919, at 15 Hours 15,” in FRUS, vol. 3, 679. 131 “Secretary’s Notes… January 22, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 679.
the small nations should be included in the commission, but they ought to be allowed to nominate their own delegates, he said. It was a matter of public opinion. Though he was “convinced that on these Committees the small powers would merely follow the lead of the Great Powers,” Clemenceau still thought it “necessary to give them the idea that they were being consulted.”132 Lloyd George agreed: Clemenceau’s scheme would give some satisfaction to the small powers, “who were beginning to complain bitterly at their exclusion,” the British prime minister said. “They felt they were locked out, and they ought to be brought into the making of the peace.”133 Clemenceau’s vision, with Lloyd George’s backing, won out. The regulations were amended to read that, in addition to ten representatives from the Great Powers, the commission on the League of Nations would include five representatives to be selected by the small powers.134 A similar design was applied to the commissions on navigation, labor, and war crimes. To the fifth commission, on reparations, the Great Powers appointed delegates from the countries that had lost most in the war: Belgium, Greece, Poland, Roumenia, and Serbia.135 Such were the regulations on January 25, 1919, at the opening of the second general meeting. Surely the representatives of the Great Powers felt satisfied as they took their seats that afternoon at the Quai d’Orsay. They had concocted a scheme in which they retained control over the conference while still offering a show of inclusion to the rest of the world. That this scheme was in fact naïve doesn’t seem to have occurred to them. The 19
“Secretary’s Notes… January 22, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 680. “Secretary’s Notes… January 22, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 681. 134 “Secretary’s Notes… January 22, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 682. 135 “Secretary’s Notes… January 22, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 682-3.
nations being asked to elect five representatives had come to Paris to assert their sovereignty; the very act of electing representatives was antithetical to their cause. At the second preliminary meeting, Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau watched delegate after delegate, from Belgium, Serbia, Greece, and Portugal, deliver speeches demanding that they be represented in this or that commission. Even Calógeras, going against Domício’s orders, spoke: “It is with some surprise that I constantly hear it said: ‘This has been decided, that has been decided.’ Who has taken a decision?” he asked. “We are a sovereign assembly, a sovereign court. It seems to me that the proper body to take a decision is the Conference itself.”136 Clemenceau was irate. Speaking on behalf of the Great Powers, he began, “With your permission, I will remind you that it was we who decided that there should be a Conference at Paris, and that the representatives of the countries interested should be summoned to attend it. I make no mystery of it—there is a Conference of the Great Powers going on in the next room.”137 He went on: “We have had dead, we have wounded in millions, and if we had not kept before us the great question of the League of Nations, we might perhaps have been selfish enough to consult only each other—it was our right.”138 Even though they were not represented equally, the small powers ought to be happy they were allowed to participate, and if they weren’t pleased with the arrangement—well, they were welcome to nominate no one at all.139 This, of course, they wouldn’t do. Two days after the general meeting, the Small Powers gathered to select their delegates. Acting in concert, the South American nations
“Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 3, Plenary Session of January 24, 1919” (minutes), in FRUS, vol. 3, 190. Calógeras also acknowledges the fact that he’s going against orders in January 25, 1919, “Diário,” PCOC, 72. 137 “Preliminary Peace Conference…January 24, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 196. 138 “Preliminary Peace Conference…January 24, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 3, 196-7. 139 Magalhães to Gama, January 27, 1919, AHI 227/3/3.
secured representation in three of the five commissions. Uruguay would discuss labor, and Cuba, navigation. As for Brazil—it would sit on the commission on the League of Nations.140
PARIS: FEBRUARY 3, 1919 It is worth nothing that when Epitácio Pessoa arrived in Paris on January 27, 1919, the 1919 Paris Peace Conference had not yet begun. A proper peace conference includes all the belligerents, the winners as well as the losers, and Germany wouldn’t join the Allies in France for another three months. The period between January and May witnessed “merely a conference between the Allies and ourselves for the purpose of agreeing upon terms to offer Germany at the Peace Conference to be held later,” Colonel Edward House, right-hand man to Woodrow Wilson, wrote in his diary.141 Yet the preliminary meetings were not merely bureaucratic proceedings. Consider the issue of the League of Nations: to have a seat on the League Commission was to have a hand on the League’s design, and to have a hand on the League’s design was to have a hand on the fate of the world. At least in theory. As it happened, much of the work of the commission was done by two men: America’s David Hunter Miller and Britain’s Lord Robert Cecil. Miller’s boss, Woodrow Wilson, made a point of joining the commission—the League of Nations, after all, had been his pet project—but his participation proved to be less than workmanlike. “Gentlemen,” he said at one meeting, “I have no doubt that the next generation will be made up of men as intelligent as you or I, and I think we can trust the
Magalhães to Gama, January 28, 1919, AHI 227/3/3. Edward Mandell House, diary entry, March 4, 1919, in Edward Mandell House Papers (MS 466), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
league to manage its own affairs.”142 Miller and Cecil at least once stayed up until 4:00 a.m. only to resume work at 8:30, laboring restlessly over the questions that Wilson would have rather leave unanswered: Ought the League mandate arbitration in an international court? 143 Ought it enforce sanctions to maintain peace? Ought it call for disarmament? Countless drafts were produced—a second Brit, Sir Cecil Hurst, would later join the effort, and Colonel House, Wilson’s advisor, made himself a key player in the proceedings—and different answers were offered at different times.144 This, House noted in his diary, was “the making of the most important human document that has ever been written.”145 Epitácio, however, seemed disinterested when Cecil, Miller, and Hurst presented their work to the League Commission, on February 3, 1919. He dutifully relayed the draft’s provisions in a telegram to Domício, but he offered no opinion about them.146 Even the Portuguese delegate was vocal enough to earn a mention in House’s diary as a “stupid gentleman,” but Epitácio remained silent.147 Only one issue troubled him: the structure that Cecil, Miller, and Hurst proposed for the League. Article III of their draft called for a two-tiered organization. The five Great Powers, whose interests included “all matters within the sphere of action of the League,” would sit in an “Executive Council.” The remaining nations, those with special interests, would be relegated to a “Body of Delegates.”148
MacMillan, Paris 1919, 87. For the time they stayed up until 4:00 a.m. see House, diary entry, February 2, 1919. 144 House, diary entries, Janurary 28, 1919, January 30, 1919, and January 31, 1919. Peter Raffo, “The Anglo-American Preliminary Negotiations for a League of Nations,” in Journal of Contemporary History 9:4 (1974), 153-76. 145 House, diary entry, February 3, 1919. 146 Pessoa to Gama, February 5, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 147 House, diary entry, April 11, 1919. 148 Pessoa to Gama, February 5, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. “First Meeting, Held at the Hotel Crillon, February 3, 1919, at 2.30 p.m.” (minutes), in Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 2, 232.
Pandiá Calógeras was still bedridden and didn’t attend that meeting, but if he had been present, he would have found these terms familiar. He had fought a similar battle before Epitácio’s arrival, when the Great Powers claimed “general interests” and monopolized the workings of the conference. Rui Barbosa, the liberal senator from Bahia, might have recognized this debate as well, having encountered it at The Hague. Given that Brazil was once again fighting for “the cause of the small powers,” one newspaper wrote, “it is a shame that Rui Barbosa… is absent from Paris.”149 Surely the small powers had a most general interest in the League of Nations. Even Lloyd George had acknowledged that they had the most to gain out of a world ruled by law and not by might. Why, then, did the Great Powers insist on assigning them a lower status? When Epitácio and other small-power representatives raised these objections, “the debate grew so warm that, after an hour, Lord Robert Cecil moved that we pass it up for the moment,” House wrote in his diary. They adjourned that night a little before 11 p.m., without resolving the question.150 A week passed. The Great Powers knew they needed to open the Council—the covenant stood no chance of being adopted otherwise—but they were unwilling to concede any more than two seats. Then, a day before the commission’s work was to be presented before a general meeting, Epitácio took a stand. 151 Brazil “could not accept the organization of the Executive council in the way shown in the present,” he said in French. (Though he struggled with English, he was fluent in the other language of the
“A Ausencia de Rui Barbosa,” O Pais, March 8, 1919. Quoted by Rui in “O Caso Internaticional” (speech), April 4, 1919, OCRB, vol. 46, 241. 150 House, diary entry, February 6, 1919. 151 Pessoa to Gama. February 13, 1919. AHI 273/2/9.
conference.152) True, there were political considerations at play—the Great Powers had won the war, after all—but “it was neither equitable nor just that nations which were not considered Great Powers should have a representation which did not amount to even one Delegate per continent.” In the very least, the Commission should adopt a structure suggested by the Americans earlier in the conference: “five Delegates for the Great Powers and four for the others.”153 The delegates from Greece and Portugal backed his proposal. Begrudgingly Robert Cecil gave in, insisting “that this decision should be unanimously supported before the Conference by all the States represented on the Commission.” 154 By the next morning, when Woodrow Wilson read the covenant at the general meeting, the language of special and general interests had been expunged from Article III: The Executive Council shall consist of representatives of the United States of America, the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, together with representatives of four other States, members of the League. 155 This was Epitácio’s first victory in Paris. In Brazil, however, the press was more concerned with another issue being floated at the conference: the insertion of the Monroe Doctrine into the covenant of the League. Wilson began pushing the amendment after he presented the covenant before the U.S. Congress. His Republican opponents worried that the document invalidated the Monroe Doctrine, a long-standing tenant of American foreign policy that interpreted all European forays into the New World as acts of aggression, warranting American intervention. In the view of Republicans, the League of Nations was antithetical to this
Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 1, 125. “Ninth Meeting, February 13, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.” (minutes), in Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 2, 301. 154 “Ninth Meeting,” Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 2, 301. 155 “Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 3, Plenary Session of February 14, 1919” (minutes), in FRUS, vol. 3, 231.
principle. No less than six European nations would come to sit on the League’s Executive Council. If that Council was to issue rulings on American countries, a Republican Senator said, it would “control, whether it wills or no, the destinies of America.”156 If this was the case—and it certainly seemed to be—Republicans simply could not endorse the covenant. Back in Paris, Wilson lobbied for an amendment to the effect that nothing in the covenant invalidated the Monroe Doctrine. There was opposition, first from the British, then from the French, both for political reasons, and also from the Japanese, who wanted a similar provision regarding their protectorate over the Far East.157 Several South American nations, too, cried foul.158 The Brazilians, however, kept quiet. The minutes of the commission’s meetings show no comment from Epitácio as the amendment was introduced and later voted into the covenant.159 This makes sense. Meddling in the debate would have been impolitic. Epitácio needed the Americans’ good will to secure the Bleichröder money and the 46 German ships. But his silence was also a consequence of a larger current in Brazilian diplomacy. At the turn of the century, when coffee displaced rubber a the top of Brazil’s export economy, the country’s diplomats co-opted the Monroe Doctrine in the process of straitening ties with the United States, the greatest consumer of coffee.160 Pandiá Calógeras himself had described the Doctrine as “an integral part of Brazilian foreign
Willam E. Borah, The League of Nations: speech delivered in the Senate of the United States (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1921), 18. 157 MacMillan, Paris 1919, 96. 158 Estado de São Paulo, April 7, 1919. 159 “Fourteenth Meeting, April 10, 1919, at 8 p.m.” (minutes), in Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 2, 369-374. “Fifteenth Meeting, April 11, 1919, at 8:30 p.m.” (minutes), in Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. 2, 381-383. 160 Albert, South America and the First World War, 82. Burns, Unwritten Alliance, 146-159.
policy,” consisting of “the most intimate collaboration between the two governments.”161 Which is not to say all Brazilians shared those views. Rui Barbosa, for one, loathed the Monroe Doctrine. “The Americas don’t belong to the Americans,” he once said.162 To him, the Doctrine was thinly veiled American imperialism, and this sentiment was echoed often in the more liberal opinion pages of 1919. Shortly after Wilson’s amendment was approved, one editorialist for the Estado de São Paulo described the Monroe Doctrine as the “great delusion of our foreign policy, a soothing siren’s song, whose temptation we should resist with all our strength.” He was, however, cordial towards Epitácio, who shared no blame for “a set of ideas that has long distorted Brazilian policy abroad.”163 Another Estado editorialist was less forgiving: by allowing the Monroe Doctrine into the Covenant, Brazilians had “volunteered their wrists to shackles.”164
PARIS: APRIL 29, 1919 Damn the ships, Epitácio must have thought at least once. Yes, he had won a victory at the League Commission, and yes, he had resolved the question of the money in the Bleichröder accounts. And yes, he had even bought a car, a deluxe Renault complete with a chauffeur, so the Brazilian delegates no longer had to walk everywhere.165 By and large, things were looking up. But the 46 German ships—eles que se danem. Brazil’s first concrete claim hadn’t been nearly so complicated. Securing São Paulo’s money had simply been a matter of presenting the case before the Financial
João Pandiá Calógeras, Rio-Branco e a Política Exterior (Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1916), 38. “A Liga das Nações e a doutrina de Monroe,” Estado de São Paulo, May 15, 1919. 163 “A Liga das Nações e a doutrina de Monroe,” Estado de São Paulo, May 15, 1919. 164 Estado de São Paulo, August 19, 1919. 165 Pessoa to Gama, February 27, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Pessoa to Gama, undated, in OCEP, 13.
Commission, which sided with Brazil.166 Thus, Article 263 of the Treaty of Versailles read: Germany gives a guarantee to the Brazilian Government that all sums representing the sale of coffee belonging to the State of Sao Paolo [sic] in the ports of Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp and Trieste, which were deposited with the Bank of Bleichroder at Berlin, shall be reimbursed together with interest at the rate or rates agreed upon.167 Securing the 46 German ships, however, had proved more challenging. Never mind the legal standing of the confiscation—or requisition, or utilization. Terminology was itself a hurdle, but it was not nearly as problematic as the fact that the French now seemed bent on keeping the thirty vessels they had leased from Brazil in 1917. France had first proposed an extension. The ships would continue to fly Brazilian flags, but they would remain under French command for an additional six months.168 “Given our condition as an exporting country and the insufficiency of our means of transit, it may seem misguided to extend the agreement,” Epitácio telegraphed to Domício. “However, in my opinion, other reasons advise the measure.” He cited two. First, the Brazilian Lloyd, to whom the ships belonged, was presently in disarray. The war’s reshuffling of international commerce had wreaked havoc on the Lloyd’s cumbersome bureaucracy, and the company would be ill prepared to handle thirty additional vessels. A one-year extension, Epitácio wrote, would allow the Lloyd to regroup. The second reason was strategic. Epitácio knew that Brazil’s claim to the ships was legally precarious. The country had requisitioned the vessels while neutral, so the
Pessoa to Gama, April 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. “The Versailles Treaty,” June 28, 1919, online at The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/partix.asp. 168 Gama to Pessoa, April 1, 1919, AHI 273/2/10.
measure wasn’t an act of war, and the eminent domain argument offered in the foreign ministry’s dossier was, in essence, theft by the state. If Brazil hoped to keep the ships, it needed the good will of the Great Powers. “Extending the lease would bring France to our side, committing her to defend our common interests,” Epitácio wrote. On the other hand, “Refusing the offer might compel her to acquire the ships by other means.”169 He had even heard rumors that France might appropriate the ships (which legally were still German) as reparations for war damages.170 With this in mind, Epitácio arranged an exploratory meeting with Paul Gauthier, a secretary in the French delegation. On the arranged date, a Saturday in late March, Gauthier appeared flanked by three merchant marine officers and Paul Claudel, the former French minister in Rio. The five Frenchmen seemed ready finalize the deal, but Epitácio protested: he had no authority to negotiate and wanted only to know France’s terms so as to relay them to Domício. Fair enough, Gauthier responded. The terms were these: France agreed to extend the lease, but on the condition that Brazil pay 40 million Francs in maintenance costs and an additional 25 million in late fees, as Brazil had taken too long to make the ships available (one of the leased vessels, the Santos, was still anchored in a Brazilian port at the time). France would pay nothing upfront for the arrangement (freight could be arranged for individual trips), and it demanded the ships for a full year, not six months. Finally, Brazil could keep its flag on the masts, but the ships would be manned entirely by French crews.171 The terms were aggressively one-sided, but Epitácio found them agreeable. The maintenance costs, he told Domício, had been provided for in the original contract, and
Pessoa a Gama, March 20, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Pessoa a Gama, March 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 171 Pessoa a Gama, March 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9.
the demand for shipping had declined with the end of the war, so France had good reason to refuse an upfront fee. And if the French didn’t get their way, he reminded Domício, they might challenge Brazil’s tenuous legal claim. Ceding the ships for a year was preferable to losing them altogether.172 Domício agreed, but he took issue with the demand that the crews be exclusively French. The public would balk at this measure, he wrote.173 They could negotiate a provision to add Brazilian officers and sailors to the crews, but this would require congressional approval, and Domício preferred to keep the matter within the ministry, shielded from public scrutiny. He was hopeful, he wrote, that the “two governments, in some skillful manner, might reach some agreement on the matter….”174 (He later told one reporter that the delegation had been working “silently out of necessity.”175) Not a week had passed before France forced Epitácio’s hand. Working with the British, the French introduced a plan to pool all captured German merchant ships and redistribute them among the Allies, ton for ton, in proportion to each country’s losses.176 This arrangement made sense for Britain and France, both of which had lost more ships than they had captured. But for Brazil, whose captures greatly exceeded its losses, the plan was disastrous:
Pessoa a Gama, March 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Gama to Pessoa, April 1, 1919, AHI 273/2/10. 174 Gama to Pessoa, April 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/10. 175 “A Acção do Brasil na Conferencia,” Estado de São Paulo, May 7, 1919. 176 Gama to Pessoa, April 5, 1919, AHI 273/2/10.
LOST TONNAGE ENGLAND FRANCE UNITED STATES BRAZIL 7,740,000 950,000 389,489 25,000 CAPTURED TONNAGE 400,000 45,000 628,000 216,000177
The United States also stood to lose from this arrangement. If the Allies were made to share the ships, its surplus might quickly become a deficit, so Wilson protested. Americans had a legitimate right to those vessels, he told his colleagues at the Council of Four, having “secured their title to them by law.” He continued, “The ships had been so damaged that millions of dollars had had to be spent on their repairs and new methods that had to be devised. Throughout, these ships had been used for the indispensable transport of the American armies to France. It would not be tolerable to public opinion in the United States if their title to these ships was not recognized.”178 “There was a great difference between the value of ships to Great Britain and the United States,” Lloyd George responded. “It was like the value of ships to a fisherman compared with ships to a swell yachtsman,” he said. “Great Britain lived on ships….”179 Wilson countered: the Americans had “lost not only ships but thousands of lives. In other countries, such lives were being provided for by reparation arrangements.”
“Notes of a Meeting Which Took Place at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, April 23, 1919, at 4 p.m.” (minutes), in FRUS, vol. 5, 162. Eugenio Vargas, p. 41, offers slightly different figures for every country except Brazil. England would have lost 8,000,000 tons and captured 500,000; France would have lost 930,000 and captured 50,000; and the United States would have lost 430,489 and captured 628,000. In this essay, I choose to use the figures that the statesmen in Paris had been using, as this more accurately reflect their perception of the debate over the ships. 178 “Notes of a Meeting…April 23, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 5, 161-2. 179 “Notes of a Meeting…April 23, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 5, 162.
America had claimed no reparations for herself. All she wanted were the ships.180 Lloyd George pondered. Fine, he said at last. The British would “enter into an arrangement” with the Americans. The Brazilians, however, “had no claim for walking off with so many ships,” he said.181 They had seized the vessels thanks only to the Great Powers, which had forced the Germans to seek shelter in Brazilian ports.182 The Council of Four held that meeting, as most of their meetings, in Wilson’s home at No. 11 Place des États-Unis, in a book-lined study decorated with paintings that hung in heavy frames.183 In attendance were Wilson and Lloyd George and their French counterpart, Georges Clemenceau.184 (Vittorio Orlando, the Italian prime minister and fourth member of the Council, had, by April, absented himself from their meetings.185) The discussion between Wilson and Lloyd George took place behind closed doors, meaning that Epitácio wasn’t privy to their agreement. Not until the following day, when he was called before the Reparations Commission, did Epitácio discover that the British had agreed to exempt the Americans from the pooling scheme.186 Immediately he tried to obtain a similar arrangement. Over a dinner meeting on April 29, 1919, Colonel House, Wilson’s advisor, promised to represent Brazil on the matter, assuring Epitácio that the issue was by no means resolved.187 Lloyd George, despite his unsympathetic position, also said no decision had been reached.188 But Louis
“Notes of a Meeting…April 23, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 5, 162. “Notes of a Meeting…April 23, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 5, 162. 182 Pessoa to Gama, May 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 183 Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement: Written from his unpublished and personal material (New York: Doubleday, Page, & Company, 1923), 156. “Z-MDD-WW-18” (photograph), 1919, Woodrow Wilson Collection, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton Unitersity, online at http://libweb2.princeton.edu/rbsc2/portfolio/ww/fi/00000011.htm. 184 “Notes of a Meeting…April 23, 1919,” FRUS, vol. 5, 155. 185 MacMillan, Paris 1919, 279-305. 186 Pessoa to Gama, April 24, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 187 Pessoa to Gama, April 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 188 Pessoa to Gama, May 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9.
Loucheur, Clemenceau’s chief economic advisor, repeatedly told Epitácio that the matter had been settled: with the exception the vessels in American hands, all captured ships would be redistributed among the Allies.189 The French, it seemed, had got their way. That Epitácio asked for House’s intervention is telling. Given the precariousness of Brazil’s claim, “the case of the ships can only be solved by political measures,” Epitácio wrote to Domício. But this proved difficult. “You need only consider that England lost 8,000,000 tons in ships and captured only 500,000,” he wrote. “Brazil lost only 25,000 and captured 200,000,” and this “thanks only to the Allied efforts.” 190 (The French press, too, made a point of reminding the public of these figures.191) If it were allowed to keep the ships, Brazil would be “the only belligerent to tally no losses” in the war.192 Politically, this was an unsellable position, which is why Epitácio went to House. As Woodrow Wilson’s right-hand man, House was the conference’s ultimate powerbroker—“the small knot hole through which must pass many great events,” in the words of one observer in Paris.193 When the two men met over dinner at the end of April, the Brazilian knew that securing the ships would require some heavy politicking. Epitácio showed no signs of recognizing the hypocrisy of the Brazilian position. Brazil had come to the conference—had entered the war, really—invoking the tenets of international liberalism: rule of law; equality of nations; respect for national sovereignty. Its public, its press, its intellectual elite had bought wholeheartedly into that rhetoric, but its representatives in Paris now showed themselves willing to abandon liberalism in pursuit of their interests. It’s no surprise that Domício wanted to keep the ordeal from the
Pessoa to Gama, April 29, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Pessoa to Gama, May 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Pessoa to Gama, May 4, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 191 Pessoa to Gama, June 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 192 Pessoa to Gama, May 4, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 193 MacMillan, Paris 1919, 17.
public. Brazil’s claim on the 46 ships was legally unfounded. It would be found criminal if examined in a court. This fact is implicit in Epitácio’s decision to pursue a political solution. When pressed, the delegation proved itself willing to deal behind closed doors, enlisting, if necessary, the help of Colonel House, politicker extraordinaire. For the Brazilians in Paris, interests trumped principles. And it bears noting the interests at hand: 46 merchant ships. For all their outrage at the label of “power with special interests,” the Brazilian delegates showed themselves terribly myopic. The world awaited remaking, Domício had told Calógeras in December of 1918. The statesmen gathered in Paris were engaging with hugely important questions—how ought the world handle German colonial possessions? What attitude ought it take towards Russia’s new Bolshevik regime? How ought it ensure the freedom of navigation? How ought it enforce peace?—but the record shows no Brazilian participation in any of these debates. “The world was being turned upside down and a new order was being inaugurated,” Colonel House wrote in his diary.194 The Brazilians seemed to want no part of it. Rather, they obsessed over ships—46 of them, stolen from Germany. As Epitácio left House after dinner that night in April, the American promised he would do “everything that was possible” to help.195
PARIS: JUNE 3, 1919 Epitácio didn’t stay in Paris long enough to see the issue resolved. By June, the British had given up on the pooling scheme, and the French had agreed to recognize the
House, diary entry, January 31, 1919. House, diary entry, April 29, 1919.
Brazilian claim to the ships, on the condition that Brazil would sell to France the thirty vessels already in her possession. This was “even better than simply keeping the ships,” wrote Epitácio: with the profits of the sale, Brazil could buy newer ships better suited for its ports, and these could be purchased gradually, so as to allow the Brazilian Lloyd time to maneuver its bureaucracy around the enlarged fleet.196 The arrangement was more than satisfactory. True, the French had immediately begun to drag their heels, refusing to put ink to paper, but Epitácio felt the deal would soon be finalized.197 “It seems, therefore, that my stay here is not crucial,” he wrote.198 (Pandiá Calógeras left Paris shortly thereafter, on similar grounds.199 They were both wrong: it would be another year and a half before the French finally signed a contract.200) So on Tuesday, June 3, 1919, Epitácio and his family departed Paris, amidst much fanfare. Even Georges Clemenceau, flanked by his foreign minister and Raymond Poincaré, the French president, made an appearance at the train station.201 From the port town of Bolougne-sur-Mer, Epitácio would cross the Channel to England, and from there, he would voyage to Lisbon.202 Then he would sail to the United States, in time for the Fourth of July, and after a jaunt to Canada, he would return home to Brazil. (The French, perhaps eager to see him off their continent, made a cruiser available for the transatlantic leg of his voyage.203) The telegram that reported his departure referred to him as “Presidente
Pessoa to Gama, June 1, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. Pessoa to Gama, June 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 198 Pessoa to Gama, June 2, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 199 Calógeras to Gama, July 3, 1919. AHI 273/2/9. 200 “Os Antigos Navios Allemaes,” Estado de São Paulo, December 1, 1920. 201 Regis to Gama, June 5, 1919, AHI 273/2/9. 202 Pessoa to Gama, June 9, 1919, in vol. 14 of Obras Completas de Epitácio Pessoa (Instituto Nacional do Livro: Rio de Janeiro, 1961), 51. 203 Pessoa to Gama, May 25, 1919, AHI 273/2/9.
Epitácio.”204 As it happened he was president-elect, the winner of the April contest that followed Rodrigues Alves’ death. He was elected in absentia but with the backing of the café com leite elite from São Paulo and Minas Gerais, named him as their official candidate at a national convention of regional Republican parties held in February.205 “Epitácio Pessoa is the candidate of the oligarchies,” wrote the Estado de São Paulo at the time.206 His opponent: the liberal stalwart Rui Barbosa, who ran on a moderate but reformist platform.207 Surprisingly, his campaign seldom touched on the conference. Foreign affairs, it seems, were no longer the causes célèbres they had been in 1917. Aside from a workers’ rally in São Paulo, held to protest the exclusion of the Russian Bolsheviks from the League of Nations, no shows of public opinion were loud enough to warrant much press coverage.208 And though editorialists occasionally opined about the Monroe Doctrine, most of their pieces concerned domestic politics. It wasn’t long before the Estado de São Paulo began to report the conference much like it reported soccer: dutifully and daily, but with no commentary. Rui, nonetheless, still found occasion to deliver some sharp criticism of the Brazilians in Paris. “It was to be expected, in a time such as this, with internationalism in vogue, that our deceitful politics would also internationalize,” he told the Chamber of Commerce in Rio. He added: “Each of the peoples has its own way of being great. Great, like France and her Clemenceau. Great, like England and her Lloyd George. Great, like
Pessoa to Gama, June 9, 1919, OCEP, vol. 14, 51. “A Successão Presidencial,” Estado de São Paulo, February 27, 1919. 206 “A attitude da politica paulista,” Estado de São Paulo, March 4, 1919. Similar sentiments appear in “Organisação putrefacta,” Estado de São Paulo, March 1, 1919. 207 Consuelo Novais Sampaio, preface to vol. 46, book 3, of OCRB, xx. 208 “Manifestação Operária,” Estado de São Paulo, July 21, 1919.
the United States and their Wilson. Great, like Brazil—in her deceit.”209 Rui, who had championed a war for liberal principles, surely saw the delegation’s performance as vapid. While the world was being remade, Brazil had busied itself with the fate of the 46 ships. The speech was well received; the admittedly pro-Rui Estado de São Paulo called it “marvelous.”210 An earlier Estado piece read, “There is no question that the nation wants Rui Barbosa to ascend to the presidency of the Republic—rarely have we seen a movement of opinion so spontaneous, so generalized, and so vehement.”211 But Rui was challenging the candidato oficial, which meant he faced the full weight of the São PauloMinas political machine. He lost in a landslide, garnering little over thirty percent of the vote.212 Epitácio, from the tiny far-off state of Paraíba, was an unusual choice for the café com leite oligarchs. (He was in fact the first and last northeasterner to serve as president in the Old Republic.213) His candidacy had been a compromise, put forth because the state governors of São Paulo and Minas were both too young, and because the mineiros had allied with a third state, Rio Grande do Sul, to oppose a paulista candidate.214 The oligarchs struck a deal: they would to name Epitácio, a prominent man from a small state, to serve as a fill-in until the end of Rodrigues Alves’ term. Thereafter, paulistas and mineiros were to take turns in the presidential palace.215 The café com leite alliance, however, wouldn’t last long in post-war Brazil. Peace
Rui Barbosa, “As Classes Conservadoras” (speech), March 8, 1919, in OCRB, vol. 46, book 1, 36-39. Correio da Manhã, March 13, 1919, reproduced in Estado de São Paulo, March 14, 1919. 211 “Notas e informações,” Estado de São Paulo, February 4, 1919. 212 Streeter, Epitácio Pessoa, 110. 213 Fausto, “Society and Politics,” 295. 214 Streeter, Epitácio Pessoa, 105-6. 215 Burns, History of Brazil, 306.
saw the resumption of normal commerce and a temporary coffee boom, but this was soon replaced by a general slump in commodity prices. Making matters worse was the fact that, even as world demand for coffee leveled off, new planting continued in São Paulo, so the market became saturated.216 By 1920, coffee prices were so low that Epitácio found it necessary to resume an old valorization scheme, through which the federal government bought and warehoused coffee from the states to increase demand and, consequently, prices.217 The precarious export markets aggravated rifts among the oligarchs, while the federal government’s efforts to buttress the coffee economy spurred jealousy from other states. In 1929, Rio Grande do Sul spearheaded a national Aliança Liberal to exploit the faults in the café com leite machine. Their candidate, Getúlio Vargas, ran on a platform that, while by no means radical, bore the standard of reform.218 He was defeated by the oligarchs in the election, leading the disgruntled younger members of the Aliança Liberal to forge a friendship with their peers in the Brazilian army, themselves reformists who had challenged the federal government in several small rebellions throughout the twenties. In October of 1930, the military deposed the president, and Getúlio Vargas seized the office. His 15-year administration would see power centralized under the federal government and the state oligarchies divested of their influence. So ended the Old Republic, and so ended the era of café com leite politics.219 Of course, Epitácio had no way of knowing these things at the time. He had no way of knowing them as he stood with his family on the deck of the Idaho on July 21,
Warren Dean, “Economy,” in Brazil: Empire and Republic 1822-1930, 230. Burns, History of Brazil, 311-2. 218 Fausto, “Society and Politics,” 304. 219 Fausto, “Soceity and Politics,” 304-307.
1919, and waved to the crowds aboard the green-and-yellow-draped ships assembled in Guanabara Bay; no way of knowing them as he watched the hydroplanes maneuver overhead, their roaring engines periodically drowned by the horns of the steamers and dreadnaughts; no way of knowing them as he drove down Rio Branco Avenue in a fourhorse carriage and greeted the cariocas with waves of his hat; no way of knowing them as he entertained reporters in his home after dinner, answering questions about civil service reform and the fate of the military but not about Paris; no way of knowing them as he went to bed that night, home for the first time in seven months; and no way of knowing them as woke up the next morning, ready to lead Brazil down “the path of civilization, of liberty, of justice.”220 _______________________________________________________________________ World Count: 12,453.
Account of his arrival in Rio from “O Sr. Epitacio Pessao,” Estado de São Paulo, July 22, 1919. Quote from Epitácio Pessoa, “Resposta ao Rei Alberto, no banquete, de 8 de maio, no Palácio Real de Bruexellas” (speech), May 8, 1919, OCEP, vol. 14, 84.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY “Brazilians in Paris: 1919” was not the essay I originally intended to write. I had planned to build my senior essay on a seminar paper I had written for Adam Tooze, my advisor. In that paper, I argued that Brazil had entered World War I alongside the United States in order to position itself as a co-hegemon of the American continent. Adam encouraged me to stretch that argument into the 1920s, exploring Brazilian participation at the Paris Peace Conference and the League of Nations—this was to be my senior essay. It wasn’t long, however, before I discovered that the Brazilians in Paris didn’t count “continental co-hegemony” among the items in their agenda. Their interests were far more modest: 46 ships they had captured from the Germans, and money owed to the state of São Paulo for coffee sold in Berlin. This seemed odd. Given that the other statesmen assembled in Paris thought themselves to be in the business of remaking the world, I felt that Brazil’s myopia at the conference was a story worth telling. I could find no volume or paper that delved into Brazil’s presence at the Paris Peace Conference. The participation of small non-European powers has not been a particularly popular topic among scholars of the conference. Marget MacMillan, for example, pays little attention to them in Paris 1919. Erez Manela’s Wilsonian Moment is an exception to the rule, but Manela’s focus on anticolonial nationalism blinds him to countries like Brazil, past colonialism by 1919. My essay also runs counter to Manela’s central argument: whereas he sees domestic political turmoil as a consequence of Paris, I view Brazilian participation in Paris as consequence of domestic politics. Brazil’s myopia
at the conference was a symptom of a broken political system. This system’s collapse a decade later was due not to international liberal rhetoric but to faults in the system itself. I turned, next, to scholars of Brazilian foreign relations, but among them, too, the Paris Peace Conference appears to be an unpopular topic. The 1910s and 1920s stand as a gap in scholarship, preceded by works on the Baron of Rio Branco, the Brazilian foreign minister until 1912 and architect of Brazilian-American rapprochement (E. Bradford Burns’ Unwritten Alliance is the most important book in that category), and followed by works on the foreign relations of the Vargas era, which culminated with Brazilian participation in World War II. General studies of Brazilian diplomacy (by Clodoaldo Bueno, Amado Luiz Cervo, Carlos Miguel Delgado de Carvalho, and José Honório Rodrigues and Ricardo A.S. Seitenfus) skim over the conference. Eugênio Vargas Garcia dedicates a chapter to the conference in O Brasil e a Liga das Nações, but he takes a birds-eye view, staying away from details, and he fails to discuss Brazil’s participation at the conference with respect to domestic politics. In short, I could find no scholarly works that made an in-depth exploration of the Brazilians in Paris. My essay, therefore, relies heavily on primary sources. Chief among these were documents found in Rio de Janeiro’s Arquivo Histórico do Itamaraty, where I spent about ten days. The archives of the Estado de São Paulo and the State Department’s Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, both available online, were also extremely useful. The Estado archive gave me a glimpse into public sentiment about World War I, while the FRUS papers offered an institutional record of the conference’s goings-on. Many of my primary sources were in Portuguese, and the translations are my own.
Secondary sources were useful in discussing context: the conference writ large and Brazilian domestic politics. On the conference, MacMillan’s Paris 1919 and Adam Tooze’s Peace Without Victory, which I read in manuscript form, were my main sources. On Brazilian domestic politics, Leslie Bethell’s Brazil: Empire and Republic, 1822-1930 and Harry Bernstein’s Modern and Contemporary Latin America were particularly useful. Recently, the oligarchic interpretation of the Brazilian Old Republic has been brought into question by scholars like Mauricio Font, who call attention to moments when state behavior didn’t align with the interests of coffee planters. While these are valuable contributions to our understanding of the Old Republic, I believe that the Brazilian experience in Paris shows the extent to which coffee interests affected foreign policy. My bibliography also features two books entirely unrelated to my subject: Simon Schama’s Dead Certainties and Robert Rosenstone’s Mirror in the Shrine. I include them because they were valuable models of narrative history, and I tried to emulate them in “Brazilians in Paris.” I also include two works of fiction, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire. They show that the war was immediate to the men who lived through it, and I tried to keep that in mind while writing my essay. I’m a believer in the truism that “it takes a village,” and I owe my village a few thanks. First and foremost I must thank Adam Tooze for first introducing me to the politics of the Great War in the summer of 2011 and for encouraging me to tell the story of the Brazilians in Paris. It was over the course of several pilgrimages from my apartment on Chapel Street to his office on Hillhouse that this essay took shape. In
particular, Adam prodded me away from the realist approach I had been taking to my subject. He opened my eyes to what it means to be a liberal—showed me that “scraps of paper” matter—and this was hugely influential. (I must also thank him for not losing faith; I can’t say I was always the best-prepared advisee.) As for the rest of my village: this essay is the culmination of my Yale education. It incorporates the lessons I’ve learned from courses related to Brazilian history and the history of the Great War, but also the lessons I learned from writing non-fiction, both inside and outside the classroom. I think that writing about people, as I do in “Brazilians in Paris,” requires that I care about my subjects on a fundamental level, and developing this skill required the mentorship of great writing teachers. So I must thank Kim Shirkhani, for introducing me to creative non-fiction when I was a freshman; Anne Fadiman, for giving me the push I needed to think of myself as a writer; Becky Conekin, for teaching me how to weave narratives out of old newspapers; John Demos, for introducing me to narrative history; and Steven Brill, for teaching me that a source’s silence is as significant as anything he or she might say. And I must thank everyone who lent a helping hand while I was writing “Brazilian in Paris”: Oscar Soares, my father, for flying me to Rio so I could visit the diplomatic archives; Rodrigo Senne dos Santos and Cristina Pereira Correia, for hosting me in Rio; the staff of the diplomatic archives, for entertaining my every request; Paulo Ricardo Junqueira Assis, for letting me use his subscription to access the online archives of the Estado de São Paulo; the student tutors at the Yale Writing Center for reading and critiquing my essay; Nikita Lalwani, for answering my shameless request for additional editors; Sophie Nguyen, for giving me excellent advice on my introduction; Lorraine
Boakye, class of 2010, for providing guidance as I wrote my essay and indulging me as I whined about footnotes; and Angela and Claudio Nascimento, my mother and stepfather, for supporting me through this process, for reading my first draft, and for sending me to Yale.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ABBREVIATIONS Where primary sources were published in a collection, the footnotes refer on first mention to the collection by its full title and thereafter by an abbreviation. Bibliographical information follows the abbreviation list.
BGB: The Brazilian Green Book: Consisting of diplomatic documents relating to Brazil’s attitude with regard to the European war, 1914-1917. FRUS: Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Paris Peace conference, 1919. OCEP: Obras Completas de Epitácio Pessoa. OCRB: Obras Completas de Rui Barbosa. PCOC: Pandiá Calógeras na Opinião de seus Contemporâneos.
PRIMARY SOURCES The American Presidency Project. Online by Gerhand Peters and John T. Woolley. University of California, Santa Barbara. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws. Arquivos Históricos do Itamaraty. Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations. Rio de Janeiro. Barbosa, Rui. Problemas de direito internacional. London: Jas. Truscott & Son, 1916. Borah, Willam E. The League of Nations: speech delivered in the Senate of the United States. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1921. The Brazilian Green Book: Consisting of diplomatic documents relating to Brazil’s
attitude with regard to the European war, 1914-1917. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1918. Calógeras, João Pandiá. Rio-Branco e a Política Exterior. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1916. “Convention V: Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land.” The Hague. 18 October 1907. “International and Humanitarian Law: Treaties and Documents.” International Committee of the Red Cross. Online at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/200?opendocument. “Domício da Gama.” Photograph. Undated. Academia Brasileira de Letras. Accessed March 29, 2013. http://www.academia.org.br/abl/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?sid=307. Edward Mandell House Papers (MS 466). Manuscripts and Archives. Yale University Library. Estado de São Paulo. 1875-Present. Acervo do Estado de São Paulo. Online at: http://acervo.estadao.com.br/. Gama, Domício da, Frederico Affonso de Carvalho, Hermes da Fonseca and Lauro Müller. “The Neutrality Rules Adopted by Brazil.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 60 (1915): 147-154. Girtin, Thomas. “View of the Tuileries and Bridge.” Drawing. 1802. Accession number B1981.25.2613. Yale Center for British Art. Girtin, Thomas. “View of the Palais des Tuileries and the Louvre from the Quai d’Orsay.” Drawing. 1801-2. ID number 11784. British Museum. Lauzanne, Stèphane. “The Mirror of the Quai d’Orsay.” The North American Review
216:802 (1922): 323-331. Lyra, Heitor. Minha vida diplomática. Lisboa: Centro do Livro Brasileiro: 1972. Miller, David Hunter. The Drafting of the Covenant. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928. Obras Completas de Epitácio Pessoa. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Nacional do Livro, 1961. Obras Completas de Rui Barbosa. Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa, 1968. Pandiá Calógeras na Opinião de seus Contemporâneos. São Paulo: Typ. Siqueira, 1934. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States. Washington: Department of State, 1942. Online by the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/FRUS. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1879-1922. ProQuest: Historical Newspapers Complete. “The Versailles Treaty.” June 28, 1919. The Avalon Project. Yale Law School. Online at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/partix.asp. Wall Street Journal. 1889-1922. ProQuest: Historical Newspapers Complete. “Z-MDD-WW-18.” Photograph. 1919. Woodrow Wilson Collection. Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Princeton University. Online at http://libweb2.princeton.edu/rbsc2/portfolio/ww/fi/00000011.htm.
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