Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, Viscount of Mauá

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"Visconde de Mauá" redirects here. For the Resende district, see Visconde de Mauá, Resende.
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa
Irineu evangelista de sousa the viscount of maua.png
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, c.1872
Born (1813-12-28)28 December 1813
Arroio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Portuguese Colony)
Died 21 October 1889(1889-10-21) (aged 76)
Petrópolis, province of Rio de Janeiro, Empire of Brazil
Occupation Business magnate; investor
Net worth $60 billion USD (2009 dollars)[citation needed]
200 Réis de 1937 (verso).png200 Réis de 1937.png
Mauá's likeness in a 200 réis coin from 1937.

Irineu Evangelista de Sousa (Portuguese pronunciation: [iɾiˈnew ivɐ̃ʒeˈliʃtɐ dʒi ˈsowzɐ]), the Viscount of Mauá ([viʃˈkõdʒi dʒi mɐwˈa], 1813–1889) was a Brazilian entrepreneur, industrialist, banker and politician. Born to a family of small estancieiros (ranchers), Mauá became one of the world's richest men; by 1867, his wealth was larger than the annual budget of the Brazilian Empire. He was called the Rothschild of the South American continent by the New York Times in 1871.[1] He received the titles of baron (1854) and visconde com grandeza (viscount with greatness) (1874) of Mauá. A pioneer in several areas of the economy of Brazil, one of his greatest achievements was to start the construction of the Mauá Railroad, the first railroad in Brazil.

At his peak, Mauá controlled eight of the country's ten largest companies (the remaining two were state-owned); his banking interests stretched over to Britain, France, the United States and Argentina. Mauá also founded the first bank in Uruguay (Banco Mauá Y Cia).

Mauá, who established the modern Banco do Brasil, is credited with financing much of the Brazilian economy activity in the 19th century, particularly in coffee plantation, and with the construction of the first railroads, shipyard and cast iron metalwork in the country. Mauá commissioned the first telegraphic submarine cable connecting South America to Europe, developed commercial transportation via steamboats on rivers Amazon and Guaíba, and installed the first gas-fueled street lights in the city of Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's capital. His fortunes turned around with the decay of the Empire after the Paraguayan War, however, and, by the time he died, Mauá had lost most of his wealth.

Legacy and honors[edit]

At a time in which Brazil was dominated by government-protected landowners who prioritized exports in a slave-based economy, Mauá defended free enterprise, liberalism, industrialization and the abolition of slavery. After his death, he deserved several honors and acknowledgements:

Further reading[edit]

  • Marchant, Anyda (1965). Viscount Mauá and the empire of Brazil: a biography of Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, 1813–1889. University of California Press. 

References[edit]