Hermes da Fonseca

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His Excellency, Marshal
Hermes da Fonseca
8th President of Brazil
In office
15 November 1910 – 15 November 1914
Vice President Venceslau Brás
Preceded by Nilo Peçanha
Succeeded by Venceslau Brás
Minister of the Superior Military Court
In office
18 December 1908 – 27 May 1909
Appointed by Afonso Pena
Preceded by Alexandrino Faria de Alencar
Succeeded by José Maria Marinho da Silva
Minister of War
In office
15 November 1906 – 27 May 1908
President Afonso Pena
Preceded by Francisco Argolo
Succeeded by Luís de Morais
Personal details
Born (1855-05-12)12 May 1855
São Gabriel, Rio Grande do Sul, Empire of Brazil
Died 9 September 1923(1923-09-09) (aged 68)
Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party Conservative Republican
Spouse(s) Orsina Francioni
(m. 1878–1912; her death)
Nair de Tefé
(m. 1913–1923; his death)
Children 5
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Brazil Empire of Brazil (1871–89)
Brazil Brazil (1889–1906)
Service/branch Coat of arms of the Brazilian Army.svg Brazilian Army
Years of service 1871–1906
Rank Marechal.gif Field Marshal
Commands Police Brigade of Rio de Janeiro
Battles/wars Brazilian Naval Revolts

Hermes Rodrigues da Fonseca (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɛɾmis ʁoˈdriɡis da fõˈsekɐ]; 12 May 1855 – 9 September 1923) was a Brazilian soldier and politician. The nephew of Deodoro da Fonseca, the first Brazilian President, he was the country's Minister of War in 1906. In 1910, he was elected as the eighth President of Brazil, serving until 1914.

He was on an official visit to Portugal when the revolution that overthrew the Portuguese monarchy and replaced it with a new republican regime took place.[1]


His father was from Alagoas and served in the Brazilian Armed Forces; as part of his service, he was transferred to São Gabriel. Hermes was born in there in 1855. When his father was sent to the Paraguayan War, the family returned to Rio de Janeiro.

Military career[edit]

Hermes da Fonseca in military uniform, c. 1910

In 1871, at 16, he got his bachelor's degree in Science and Letters and enrolled in the Military Academy, where he was student of Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães, a promoter of the ideas of Auguste Comte in Brazil. When he graduated, he served as aide-de-camp to Gaston, comte d'Eu.

He was a supporter of the republic proclaimed by his uncle Deodoro da Fonseca and was invited by the latter to be camp assistant and military secretary after the coup. During the Revolta da Armada (1893) he proved his worth in the command of the defense of Floriano Peixoto's government. He headed the Police Brigade of Rio de Janeiro from 1899 to 1904, when he assumed command of the Military Academy of Realengo.

As commander of the Academy he fought against the Vaccine Revolt. He was promoted to Marshal. He performed various jobs until becoming Minister of War under Rodrigues Alves.

He continued in that position during the next president, Afonso Pena, and reformed the army and the ministry with the creation of technical and administrative services. Of these innovations, the most important was the institution of obligatory military service. He resigned due to the discussion in Congress about the participation of soldiers in politics of Brazil. He was later a minister of the Supreme Federal Court.

1910 elections[edit]

In November 1908, he was pointed to for the succession. Counting with the support of Nilo Peçanha and all states other than São Paulo and Bahia.

For the first time in republican history, there was an actual campaign with the "civilista" campaign running in open election against Hermes da Fonseca.

Once elected, he traveled to Europe, where he was witness to the fall of the monarchy in Portugal.

Painting of President Hermes da Fonseca by Henrique Bernadelli


Among the events of his presidency were the Chibata Revolt and the Contestado War. Renegotiation of Brazil's National debt meant a second funding loan was set up.

Post 1914[edit]

After leaving the presidency, in November 1914, he ran for the senate for Rio Grande do Sul, but refused to take the position because of the assassination of Pinheiro Machado in September 1915. He traveled to Europe, returning to Brazil after living in Switzerland for six years, when a new presidential campaign was underway.

He was welcomed by the military men and assumed the presidency of the Military Club in 1921. In this post, he was involved in the 18 of the Copacabana Fort revolt, which started at Fort Copacabana.


  1. ^ Hermes Rodrigues da Fonseca (in Portuguese)
Political offices
Preceded by
Nilo Peçanha
President of Brazil
Succeeded by
Venceslau Brás

See also[edit]