Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, 1825-1891

December 2, 1825: Birthdate of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. An opponent of slavery and a comparatively tolerant man, he was tolerant of both Jews and Muslims. “when asked why there were no laws against” the Jews of Brazil he answered: ‘I will not attack the Jews, as the God of my religion came from their people.’” (Mitchell Levin)

Nicknamed “the Magnanimous”, Pedro II was the second and lat ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years.  Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza. His father’s abrupt abdication and departure to Europe in 1831 left a five-year-old Pedro II as Emperor and led to a grim and lonely childhood and adolescence. Obliged to spend his time studying in preparation for rule, he knew only brief moments of happiness and encountered few friends of his age. His experiences with court intrigues and political disputes during this period greatly affected his later character. Pedro II grew into a man with a strong sense of duty and devotion toward his country and his people. On the other hand, he was increasingly resentful of his role as monarch.

Inheriting an Empire on the verge of disintegration, Pedro II turned Portuguese-speaking Brazil into an emerging power in the international arena. The nation grew to be distinguished from its Hispanic neighbors on account of its political stability, zealously guarded freedom of speech, respect for civil rights, vibrant economic growth and especially for its form of government: a functional, representative parliamentary monarchy. Brazil was also victorious in three international conflicts (the Platine War, the Uruguayan War and the Paraguayan War) under his rule, as well as prevailing in several other international disputes and domestic tensions. Pedro II steadfastly pushed through the abolition of slavery despite opposition from powerful political and economic interests. A savant in his own right, the Emperor established a reputation as a vigorous sponsor of learning, culture and the sciences. He won the respect and admiration of scholars such as Charles Darwin, Victor Hugo and Friedrich Nietzsche, and was a friend to Richard Wagner, Louis Pasteur and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others.  (Wikipedia)

Brazil has issued a number of stamps portraying Dom Pedro II.  This first one was printed in 1866:

pedro-ii-of-brazil-1866

And another, shown here, was released in 2008:

pedro-ii-of-brazil-2008

Pedro II was also featured on numerous printings of paper currency, as in this 2 Mil Reis banknote from 1870:

pedro-ii-brazil-2-mil-reis-banknote-1870

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