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  Morro de São Paulo > Históry

Morro de São Paulo History

Morro de Sao Paulo's history began almost at the same time as the Brazilian.
Originally it was inhabited by indigenous communities, more specificaly the Aimorés.
In 1501, one year after the arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet in Porto Seguro, Gaspar de Lemos arrived at Todos os Santos Bay and sailed most of the Bahia coast. But the first European man to disembark in Morro de Sao Paulo was Martin Alfonso de Souza, in 1531, leading an expedition encharged to explore the coast of the new continent.

When Brazil was divided into Hereditary Captainships, it was up to Figueiro Corrêa the right to look after the Captainship of Ilhéus which included Morro de São Paulo. Because Figueiro Corrêa preferred to stay on the court, in Portugal, the Spanish Francisco Romero became responsible for the area and in 1535 established the village of Morro de Sao Paulo. About thirty people stayed in Morro de Sao Paulo to plant cotton and explore pau-brazil wood. The first town of the Captainship of Ilhéus was then born.
Later in the same year, the villages of Boipeba and Cairú were established.

In Cairú was installed a sugar-mill plant and a chapel. In 1654 this chapel was transformed into the Franciscan Santo Antonio Convent.
In 1549 arrived in Bahia the General Governor Tomé de Souza, with the objective to improve the defense of the region, at that time targeted by the French.
In 1557 at Ponta do Curral started the first cattle breeding activity of Bahia, resulting on the creation of Amparo village, today named Valença. In 1574 the Aimorés took back the territory and made the portuguese take refuge on the islands.
In 1580, the king Felipe II of Spain inherited the portuguese crown. At the same time began a period of frequent attacks by the Dutch and English to the Brazilian coast.
In 1610 the Saraiva Goes family initiated the construction of Nossa Senhora da Luz church on the hill where today is located the Lighthouse.

Between 1627 and 1630 the Dutch attacked the coast several times.After taking over Olinda and Recife they remained there for a while before any attempt toinvade Bahia coast. The elder people tell stories about when the Dutch tryed to attack the island and how Our Holly Lady made them believe that there was a big fleet of ships standing in front of Morro de Sao Paulo and because of that they gave up the attack.
As a result began the construction of a fort in Morro de São Paulo which took hundred years to be finished. The fort started to operate in 1652 and the first sentry box was settled in 1664.
Meanwhile there were some official operations going on the port, with ships coming from Africa and Europe, and also some illegal operations runed by pirates who where smuggling articles.
The works on the fort were extended up to 1739, with some stages of enlargements, and in 1750 it accounted for 51 cannons spread out in its 700 meters of wall guarded by 183 men. Unfortunately in 1774 great part of the fort was destroyed by a storm, part of it was reconstructed, but its importance started to be questioned.
In 1746 begins the construction of Fonte Grande (Great Fountain), responsible to treat the water for the population of the village.

In 1763 the Marquês do Pombal transfered the base of colonial government from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro and expeled the Jesuits, making the educational system to enter in collapse.
It follows a period of several riots, as a result of the neglected situation of the region.
Between 1794 and 1798 happened the Conjuração dos Alfaiates, or Inconfidência Bahiana, a frustrated attempt to establish the republic.
The main intention of this movement was the equitty of rights without race distinction, a great advance for the time, where a small European community dominated the large black population. They also attempted to open the Bahia ports for the world-wide commerce,however it realy happen only in 1808 after a Portuguese decree, demanded by England.

The Napoleonic war made the Portuguese court take refuge in Brazil. The court setted up in Rio de Janeiro. Because of that the Northeast reagion, includding Bahia entered in an age of decadence. The result of this situation is that D. Pedro proclaims the independence of Brazil, in 1822, fearing that somebody would make it before him, then he became the first Emperor of Brazil.

In 1823 Lord Thomas Cochrane establishes the first base of the Brazilian fleet in Morro de Sao Paulo satled to fight for the Brazilian independence. At July 2nd of the same year the Portuguese were expeled from Salvador and the independence was accomplished. During these combats great part of the armory of Morro was transferred to Salvador.
The reign of D. Pedro I had many turbulences like the Confederação do Equador and many similar wars all over country. As a result D. Pedro I abdicated the throne in 1831 on behalf of his son. Dom Pedro II was only 5 years old and had to wait for his majority, a provisional administration system was installed called Government of Regencies, during these period innumerable revolts took place and the parliament had to declared Dom Pedro II majority in 1840 when he was only 15 years old.

In 1844 a textil plant was constructed in Valença, by João Monteiro Carson, who was also assigned to build the Lighthouse in Morro de Sao Paulo, the construction work took 5 years from 1850 to 1855.
In 1859 D. Pedro II visits Salvador, Valença and Morro de Sao Paulo. By that time the textil plant in Valença, was the biggest of Brazil, operating with free and wage-earning workers, in a period of slavery.
In 1889 the Republic Proclamation in Rio de Janeiro made Bahia to divide between the obedient to the emperor and the republicans. Then follows a period of political conflicts, the stabilization comes only with the Constitution in 1890.

The Brazilian economy in the first decades of the Republic was based on coffee. In 1930 it start changing with Getúlio Vargas government. Vargas government was extended ditatorialy during the Second World War. At that time the Brazilian Government was keeping relations with USA and other democracies and at the same time the administration stile was more like the German and Italian. Brazil only decided officially its side in the War in 1942, when a German submarine attacked the Brazilian merchant ships in the coast of Valença.

In 1945 Getulio Vargas resigned after a military coup, however he is re-elect president in 1950 and commit suicide in 1954. In its government, all the industrial base for the development of Brazil was constituted, as well as the working laws. At this time, inhabitants of Salvador start to have summer houses in the Tinharé archipelago (Morro de Sao Paulo).

During the Cold War Brazil became more dependent of the capitalist powers, in special the USA. Its external debt assumed incommensurable amounts, many rights had been revoked and the economy went down. During the dictatorship military government, imposed in 1964, hippies started to visit Morro de Sao Paulo, making the island to be known internationally in the 1970.
In 1992 happens in Rio de Janeiro the Earth Summit (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development), that had its consequences in the archipelago. A decree create the "Islands of Tinharé and Boipeba Protected Area".
On the island, the community a little indifferent to the economic and politics starts to receive tourists from all over the world and they take souvenirs and the best memories from the island.

Morro de São Paulo was frequently very close to the action during important moments of the Brazilian history and bravely resists with its natural beauty and the slow rhythm of its inhabitants.


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