José da Silva Lisboa

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José da Silva Lisboa, Viscount of Cairu
José da Silva Lisboa.jpg
BornJuly 16, 1756
DiedAugust 20, 1835 (79 years old)
OccupationEconomist, jurist, and politician

José da Silva Lisboa, first Baron and Viscount of Cairu (July 16, 1756 in Salvador – August 20, 1835 in Rio de Janeiro), was an economist, historian, jurist, publicist and Brazilian politician, active at the time of Independence of the Brazil and credited for the promotion of important economic reforms. He held various positions in the economic and political administration of Brazil after the transfer or the Portuguese Court to Brazil in 1808, including Deputy of the Royal Chamber of Commerce (Junta do Comércio) and Judge of the House of Supplication (Casa da Suplicação - a court of appeal).

Cairu played an important role in encouraging the teaching of political economy in the country, and participated actively in the drafting of the decrees that determined the opening of Brazilian ports (ending the Exclusive Metropolitan Trade, by which Brazil could only trade with Portugal) and the end of the prohibition of manufactures in Brazil. His attitude favorable to the economic development of the United Kingdom of Brazil would end up contributing significantly to the conditions indispensable to the political independence of Brazil in 1822. For his contributions, the Viscount of Cairu figures "with place of honor in the pantheon of the heroes of the Brazilian homeland".


Son of a Portuguese architect, Henrique da Silva Lisboa, and Helena Nunes de Jesus, José studied in Bahia from the age of eight, especially philosophy, music and piano. He completed his studies at the University of Coimbra, where he followed legal and philosophical courses from 1774, graduating in 1778. Bachelor in canons by the University of Coimbra, he was appointed professor of national and moral philosophy for the city of Salvador, Bahia, chair which he held for 19 years, besides having created the chair of Greek language in the city.[1]

Public creer[edit]

In 1797 he returned to Portugal, obtaining his retirement and the appointment to the place of deputy and secretary of the Inspection Bureau of sugar and Bahia Tobacco (Mesa da Inspeção da Bahia), where he took office in 1798 and stayed until 1808.

In 1801 he published his first book Principles of Mercantile Law and Laws of the Navy for the use of the Portuguese youth, which includes maritime insurance, maritime exchange, damages, bills of exchange, merchant contracts, courts and causes of trade (or Princípios do Direito Mercantil e Leis da Marinha para uso da mocidade portuguesa, que compreende o seguro marítimo, o câmbio marítimo, as avarias, as letras de câmbio, os contratos mercantes, os tribunais e as causas de comércio). In 1804 he published his main work, the Principles of Political Economy (Princípios de economia política), the first Portuguese-written book inspired in Adam Smith's work

When Dom Joao VI arrived in Bahia in 1808, Cairu drew up a representation of merchants from Salvador, in which they requested the opening of the Brazilian ports to the friendly nations of Portugal, which resulted in the Royal Charter of January 24, 1808. D. João ordered Silva Lisboa to accompany him to Rio de Janeiro, where he arrived on March 7, and in the following April he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court (Desembargo do Paço).

In August 1808 he was appointed deputy of the Royal Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture, Factories and Navigation of the State of Brazil; in 1809 he was charged with organizing a code of commerce; and in 1815 he was in charge of the examination of the works for printing.

Silva Lisboa tried to reconcile Portugal and Brazil and prevent the separation between them, and for this he founded a newspaper, The Conciliador of the United Kingdom (O Conciliador do Reino Unido), in which he defended the rights of the Prince and pondered the advantages of the continental monarchy. When the hope for conciliation disappeared, and in order not to lose the support of the crown, Lisboa did not hesitate to fight for the independence movement led by the prince regent D. Pedro I.

Defender of the centralization of the power, Silva Lisboa fought in the press the revolutionaries of the Confederation of the Equator and polemizou with the Typhis Pernambucano of Frei Caneca. After independence, he continued to hold high positions, receiving honorary distinctions. He was awarded in 1825 with the title of Baron and later in 1826 as Viscount of Cairu, and was later chosen as senator of the Brazilian Empire.

In 1832, he began to fight for the creation of a University in Rio de Janeiro, a fact only concretized almost a hundred years later, with the foundation of UFRJ.


  1. ^ DA SILVEIRA, Itamar Flávio; DE CARVALHO, Suelem Halim Nardo. Visconde de Cairu. MISES: Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, Law and Economics, v. 1, n. 1, p. 129-134, 2013. Available at: