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Antonio da Silva Jardim, teacher, journalist, lawyer and exponent of republican propaganda, was born on 18 August 1860 in Capivari, Rio de Janeiro, nowadays Silva Jardim. His father, Gabriel da Silva Jardim, was a farmer and primary school teacher and his mother was Felismina Leopoldina de Mendonça Jardim.
He was raised on his father’s farm, Sapucaia, and learned to read easily, as early as 11 he substituted his father at the small school. In 1873 he moved to Niterói-RJ to do the preparatory course at Colégio Silva Pontes. In 1876 he went to Rio de Janeiro to study at the São Bento Monastery.
Aged 16, he published his first political article in the newspaper Labarum, by the students of São Bento. At 17, he first appeared as an orator in a public park. Concerned with the financial difficulties of his father, he got a job in a business where he worked for a short time until Mr. Jasper Harben, who had met him at the São Bento Monastery, invited him to collaborate in a work on the English language.
In 1878 he moved to São Paulo, where he enrolled in the Faculty of Law. Through Cesário de Souza Motta, an old colleague, he was able to teach Portuguese in a high school. In the same year he published a book of essays. At the invitation of Herculano Marcos Inglês de Sousa, he was the literary editor and proof-reader for A Tribuna Liberal, a publication of the Liberal Party.
He graduated in 1882 and began practicing law, but his true vocation was as a magistrate. He won through a public exam the chair of Portuguese at Escola Normal (1883). In 1883 he married Ana Margarida Bueno de Andrade, the daughter of his master Martim Francisco de Andrade.
In January 1885, Silva Jardim put aside his position as a republican to publically support his father-in-law, Councillor Martin Francisco, who was a declared abolitionist. After trying to justify himself, it seemed he had not convinced anyone. In the same year were the deaths of Councillor Martin Francisco and of Silva Jardim’s new-born daughter.
Devastated with the deaths of his father-in-law and little girl, he moved to Santos where he founded, with the help of his brother-in-law Martim Francisco III, the Escola José Bonifácio, a primary and secondary educational establishment. He also put together a law firm. He would eventually sell the school to dedicate himself exclusively to the law and to the republican cause.
Through his initiative, at the Guarani theatre in Santos, the first republican rally in the country took place (28 January 1888), promoted in solidarity with the councillors of São Borja who were being prosecuted by the Imperial government. The success and the popular enthusiasm removed the teacher from his classes and took him around many Brazilian cities on a campaign of revolutionary republican conferences and speeches.
In the middle of the campaign he moved to Rio de Janeiro, going to live in Santa Teresa. He continued with his honoured speeches and conferences, often held with risk to his life and interrupted by attacks. It was these speeches that prepared national opinion for the republic and consecrated Silva Jardim as a spokesperson for the new regime. He was one of the most active propagandists of the republican cause, preaching a regime change through revolution. His ideas, however, were not well received. Among the opposition to Silva Jardim’s revolutionary methods was the great republican leader Quintino Bocaiúva. Silva Jardim was neither selected in the provisional government nor elected to the constituent government.
Displeased, he retired to Europe with his wife and eldest son. On 1 July 1891, he made a short touristic excursion to Italy in the company of Joaquim Carneiro de Mendonça. He participated in a dangerous excursion to Vesuvius and, wanting to see the secrets of the fiery mountain up close, he did not heed the warnings of the guide and got so close to one of the vents that was engulfed by the mountain and died.
Works by Silva Jardim: Idéias de moço (Ideas of a Young Man) (1878); O general Osório (General Osório) (1879); A crítica de escada abaixo (Critique Going Down the Stairs) (1880); Campanhas de um propagandista (Campaigns of a Propagandist) (1891); Memórias e viagens (Memories and Travels) (1891) – work posthumously published in Lisbon.
Recife, 26 July 2004.
(Updated on 14 September 2009.)
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
DORNAS FILHO, João. Silva Jardim. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1936.
ENCICLOPÉDIA Mirador Internacional. São Paulo: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1995.
QUEIROZ, Maurício Vinhas de. Paixão e morte de Silva Jardim. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1967.
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Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Silva Jardim. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.