Rui Barbosa

Ruy Barbosa

Ruy Barbosa in 1907
Minister of Finance
In office
15 November 1889  21 January 1891
President Deodoro da Fonseca
Preceded by Viscount of Ouro Preto
Succeeded by Tristão de Alencar Araripe
Minister of Justice
In office
15 November 1889  18 November 1889
President Deodoro da Fonseca
Preceded by Cândido de Oliveira
Succeeded by Campos Sales
Member of the Federal Senate
In office
15 November 1890  1 March 1923
Constituency Bahia
1st Academic of the 10th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
In office
28 January 1897  1 March 1923
Preceded by Position created
Evaristo da Veiga (patron)
Succeeded by Laudelino Freire
President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
In office
3 December 1908  15 May 1919
Preceded by Machado de Assis
Succeeded by Domício da Gama
Personal details
Born (1849-11-05)5 November 1849
Salvador, Bahia, Empire of Brazil
Died 1 March 1923(1923-03-01) (aged 73)
Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Occupation Writer, jurist, politician, diplomat

Ruy Barbosa de Oliveira (5 November 1849 – 1 March 1923) was a Brazilian polymath, diplomat, writer, jurist, and politician.

Born in Salvador da Bahia, he was a federal representative, senator, Minister of Finance and diplomat. For his distinguished participation in the 2nd Hague Conference, defending the principle of equality among nations, he earned the nickname "Eagle of the Hague". He ran unsuccessfully for the Presidency of Brazil in 1910, 1914 and in 1919.

Ruy Barbosa gave his first public speech for the abolition of slavery when he was 19. For the rest of his life he remained an uncompromising defender of civil liberties. Slavery in Brazil was finally abolished by the Lei Áurea ("Golden Law") in 1888. Part of Barbosa's legacy to history is that he authorised, as minister of finance on 14 December 1890, the destruction of most government records relating to slavery.[1] The avowed reason for this destruction, which took several years to be enacted and was followed by his successors, was to erase the "stain" of slavery on Brazilian history.[2] However, historians today agree that Barbosa aimed to prevent any possible indemnization of the former slave-owners for this liberation.[2] Indeed, eleven days after the abolition of slavery, a law project was deposed at the Chamber, proposing some indemnization to the slave owners.[2]

Barbosa's liberal ideas were influential in drafting of the first republican constitution. He was a supporter of fiat money, as opposed to a gold standard, in Brazil. During his term as finance secretary, he implemented far-reaching reforms of Brazil's financial regime, instituting a vigorously expansionist monetary policy. The result was chaos and instability: the so-called fiat experiment resulted in the bubble of encilhamento, a dismal politic-economic failure. Due to his controversial role during it, in the following administration of Floriano Peixoto, he was forced into exile until Floriano's term ended. Years later, after his return he was elected as a Senator. He headed the Brazilian delegation to the 2nd Hague Conference and was brilliant in its deliberations. As candidate of the Civilian Party in the presidential election of 1910, Barbosa waged one of the most memorable campaigns in Brazilian politics. He was not successful and lost to Marshal Hermes da Fonseca. He ran again in the elections of 1914 and 1919, both times losing to the government candidate.

During World War I, he played a key role among those who advocated the Allied cause, arguing that Brazil should be more involved in the war. Barbosa died in Petrópolis, near Rio de Janeiro, in 1923.[3]


  1. "Population, Citizenship and Human Rights in Brazil: Elements for a System of Indicators", Conference (paper), International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), 2005, retrieved March 2007 Check date values in: |access-date= (help).
  2. 1 2 3 van Deursen, Felipe, Escravos: povo marcado, Aventuras na História (in Portuguese), BR: Abril.
  3. Cardim, Carlos Henrique (2007) A raiz das coisas. Ruy Barbosa: o Brasil no Mundo (The root of things. Ruy Barbosa: Brazil in the World) (Portuguese) Civilização Brasileira. ISBN 9788520008355. pp. 15, 19, 22.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ruy Barbosa.
Preceded by
Evaristo da Veiga (patron)

Brazilian Academy of Letters – Occupant of the 10th chair

Succeeded by
Laudelino Freire
Preceded by
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
Succeeded by
Domício da Gama
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