Joaquim Nabuco (1849-1910) is known to most students of Brazilian history as an abolitionist, a member of the Second Reign's Liberal opposition and, perhaps, as the first Brazilian ambassador to the United States. Some of us, however, note that Nabuco was also an important spokesman for the monarchist reaction against the early Republic and an outstanding historian and apologist for the Monarchy. He thus suggests something of both the range, contradictions, and limits of elite political thought in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
This presentation will attempt to go beyond the commonplace solution to the apparent contradiction in Nabuco—his liberal monarchism—to suggest the nature of his socio-political assumptions as they evolved from his more radical youth to his rather conservative maturity. It will also attempt, as an integral part of this, to identify Nabuco's role in clarifying and promoting elite conservative social thought through the use and interpretation of Brazil's national history.