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Rosa e Silva (Francisco de Assis)

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Businessman, Political



Rosa e Silva (Francisco de Assis)

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 26/05/2022

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - Researcher at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Master in Psychology

In the capital of the state of Pernambuco, on October 4, 1857, Francisco de Assis Rosa e Silva is born, son of Joana Francisca da Rosa and Albino José da Silva, a Portuguese from Minho.


Rosa e Silva joins the Law School of Recife at the age of 16. Very young, alongside a brother and a colleague, he founds the periodicals Congresso Literário and Luta. In 1879, he goes to Europe to improve academically, where he stays until 1881.


Back to Recife, he decides to join the Conservative Party, joining the political life. From 1882 to 1883, Rosa e Silva is elected to provincial deputy, being re-elected in the following years. And from that point he becomes a legitimate interpreter of the aspirations of the agricultural and commercial classes.


On October 19, 1897, the Convention of the Republican Party, formed to support the government of Prudente de Morais, indicates the names of Campos Sales and Rosa e Silva, respectively, for the presidency and vice-presidency of the Republic during the period 1898–1902. After counting the votes, Rosa e Silva reaches 412,074 votes, being elected vice-president in the Government of Campos Sales.


Rosa e Silva acquires the newspaper Diario de Pernambuco in 1901. He then invites Artur Orlando, a congressman to direct the periodical.


When Hermes da Fonseca assumes the Presidency of the Republic on November 15, 1910, the military acquire more prestige than the old oligarchies (such as the “rosista” in Pernambuco). Among these military personnel was General Emídio Dantas Barreto, a man from Pernambuco who was Minister of War and who came to run politically against Rosa e Silva.


When Dantas Barreto decides to run for the Government of Pernambuco, in 1911, one of the most agitated periods of state politics arises. It is worth clarifying that Rosa e Silva was supported by the political forces and, Dantas Barreto, by the army troops—the 49th Battalion of Hunters—under the command of General Carlos Pinto. The latter was in charge of facing the street fights between “rosistas” and “dantistas.”


On October 18, 1911, in front of a theater (the Helvética) in Imperatriz Street, a bloody confrontation occurs between the civilians and the Army cavalry, and Captain José de Lemos, troop commander, was a casualty. This incident allowed the Chief of Police to suspend all rallies and following marches.


After the elections, the Diario de Pernambuco announces the victory of Rosa e Silva, with 21,613 votes, leaving Dantas Barreto with 19,585 votes. But Dantas Barreto’s supporters did not accept the outcome of the polls. And Recife begins to experience numerous violent incidents, which converged to the shutdown of trams, the closing of cinemas and commercial points, and the great fear of the population to go out on the streets.


On November 12, 1911, a shooting occurred in several streets of Recife, such as the Rua da Aurora, in the Rua das Flores, Rua Barão da Vitória, and Rua Imperador, as well as in the Praça da Independência. One of the main targets of this confrontation is precisely the office of the newspaper Diario de Pernambuco, a company owned by Rosa e Silva.


On November 12, another serious incident takes place: with the support of Army troops, popular groups attack the police barracks. The seat of government is also attacked and the shots, starting from the Cais do Apolo and the Forte do Brum, almost kill Estácio Coimbra—the Governor of Pernambuco at the time and a person of total confidence of Rosa e Silva. One of the shots even pierces Estácio’s office, lodging in a wall a foot away from his head. After the incident, the Governor, begins to work from the Police headquarters.


Police starts to search passersby on the streets again after November 24; the Great Western trains go out on strike (requesting police protection for the Brum, Cinco Pontas, and Central train stations); Law and Engineering schools suspend their tests; a shooting takes place at the Ginásio Pernambucano, in short, Pernambuco goes through hours of great anguish once again.


At that time, already ill, José Mariano sends the following telegram, from Rio de Janeiro, which the newspaper A Província ends up publishing:

Physically unable to find myself at the side of the people of Pernambuco on the day of the reconquest of their freedom, I hope that they will shake the ignominious dominion of the oligarchy that demeans us and they will give me the consolation, if my political career is over, to leave the land I have loved so much be. The People will not need me to encourage them, because they are aware of their responsibility in the current historical moment of our claims.


The incidents in Recife also become international news in Lisbon newspapers—such as O Século and A Ilustração Portuguesa—and Paris—Le Matin. The situation only normalizes when Estácio Coimbra requests a federal intervention for the state capital.


The Congress is then convened to recognize the elected candidate. This time, however, General Dantas Barreto is appointed as the legitimate Governor of the State, defeating Rosa e Silva by a difference of 1,164 votes. This marked the end of the predominance of Rosa, an oligarchy that remained in power for 15 years, from 1896 to 1911, and that by using alliances, dominated the Police, the Treasury, the taxman.


Dantas Barreto was received apotheotically by the population singing the following verse:

O pau rolou, caiu.
Rosa murchou, Dantas subiu.
(Things got nasty, he fell
Rosa withered, Dantas rose)


Despite the defeat, Rosa e Silva does not interrupt his political career. He is chosen to serve on the executive committee of the Conservative Republican Party and, in 1924, is re-elected senator, with a term until 1932. It is worth noting that the sanitation of the city and the construction of the port of Recife are works that had a great effort from Rosa e Silva.


In April 1929, Francisco de Assis Rosa e Silva falls ill with the flu. The disease worsens, becoming a bronchopneumonia. On July 1, 1929, he dies, being buried in the Cemitério de Santo Amaro with Head of State honors.

Recife, November 14, 2003.


sources consulted

FONSECA, Annibal Freire da. Rosa e Silva: centenário do seu nascimento – 1857-1957. [S.n.].

PORTO, Costa. Os tempos da República Velha. Recife: FUNDARPE, 1986.

PORTO, Costa. Os tempos de Rosa e Silva. Recife: Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, 1970.

how to quote this text

VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Rosa e Silva (Francisco de Assis). In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2003. Available from: Access on: mês dia ano. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2009.)