On this day in history September 7, 1822: On the banks of the Ipiranga River in São Paulo, Crown Prince Regent Pedro declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal.

The article Brazil’s Independence Day - September 7: Independência ou Morte by Bonnie Hamre from the Go SouthAmerica About webpage briefly describes some of the events that led to Brazil’s Declaration of Independence by Prince Regent Pedro:

With Napoleon and the Peninsular Wars, and the invasion and occupation of Spain and Portugal, Dom João VI, the seventeenth king of Portugal, fled Lisbon and established his court in Rio de Janeiro, where for the next 13 years, he ruled Portugal’s Asian, African, and American colonies. Although Dom João VI (1769-1826) never ruled over an independent Brazil, historians call him the “Founder of the Brazilian Nationality.” One of his major contributions to the growth of Brazil was opening the colony’s ports to free trade with friendly nations, thus signaling a marked change in trade and the resulting improved consequence of Brazil. Additionally, Dom João VI spearheaded the founding of the Academia Naval (Naval Academy), Hospital Militar (Military Hospital), Arquivo Militar (Military Archives), Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden), Intendência Geral de Polícia (Police Commissariat), Real Biblioteca (Royal Library), the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil), and the gunpowder factory. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, he thought it safe to make Brazil another kingdom equal to Portugal. He also decided to remain in Brazil.

The Portuguese government disagreed with both decisions and in 1820 sent troops to assist his relocation to Portugal where the army headed a revolution designed to bring about a constitutional government with Dom João as the constitutional monarch. Dom João returned to Portugal, leaving his 23-year-old son Pedro as prince regent of Brazil. Pedro actively engaged in enlisting support from both able advisors and the people of Brazil.

With revolutions and the desire for independence active in other Latin American countries, Pedro realized Brazil would soon wish for the same. With the support of the Brazilian people and the Brazilian Senate who had bestowed on him the title of Defensor e Protetor Perpétuo do Brasil, Protector and Perpetual Defender of Brazil, he defied an order to return to Portugal. When the Portuguese parliament wished to return Brazil to colonial status, Pedro seized the moment. On September 7, 1822, after receiving orders from the Portuguese parliament limiting his powers in Brazil, Pedro declared Brazil’s independence near the Ipiranga River in São Paulo. Tearing the Portuguese blue and white insignia from his uniform, Pedro drew his sword, and swore: “By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free.” Their motto, he said, would be Independência ou Morte, Independence or Death! This statement is known as the Grito do Ipiranga.

Pedro de Alcântara Francisco Antônio João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim de Bragança e Bourbom, became Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil and ruled for nine years.

Brazil’s independence was officially Britain and Portugal via the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro on August 29, 1825.

For Further Reading:

Preserved by one of Earth’s driest climates, a long-buried corpse in Chile’s Atacama Desert retains centuries-old skin, hair, and clothing.

Naturally dehydrated corpses like this probably inspired the region’s ancient Chinchorro people to actively mummify their dead, scientists speculate in a new study. The practice, researchers suggest, took off during a time of natural plenty and population growth, when the Chinchorro were better able to innovate and develop culturally.

Living in fishing villages along the coasts of Chile and Peru, the Chinchorro had begun mummifying skeletons by 5050 B.C., thousands of years before the Egyptians. Archaeologists have long wondered how the practice—and a related cult of death—arose, with some speculating it had been imported from the notably wetter Amazon Basin .

“Our study is one of the few to document the emergence of social complexity due to environmental change"—in this case, climate shifts that desiccated the Atacama, study leader Pablo Marquet said.

"Until now, most of the emphasis has been on how environmental change triggers the collapse of societies,” said Marquet, an archaeologist at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile.

Please Join Us on /r/AskHistorians forOur Civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas AMA Panel!

We’re hosting a massive panel AMA on the Americas before Columbus. If you have a question on any topic relating to the indigenous people of the Americas, up to and including first contact with Europeans, you can post it here. We have a long list of panelists covering almost every geographic region from Patagonia to Alaska.


August 7th 1947: Kon-Tiki expedition ends

On this day in 1947, the Kon-Tiki raft smashed into reef and was beached in the Tuamotu Islands. The expedition was led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and aimed to prove that pre-historic peoples could have travelled from South America to Polynesia and settled there. The expedition took 101 days and covered 7,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Polynesian islands. The raft was constructed and sailed using only materials and techniques people would have had available in pre-Columbian times. However, the experiment was criticised because they used modern technology such as having the raft towed out to sea. The journey began on April 28th but ended on August 7th, with the crew all returned safely to land.


The Venezuelan Tortuga Tank

In 1934, an interesting tank design made its debut at a military parade at Venezuela’s Maracay Airbase.  The Tortuga Tank, so named because of its turtle shell-shape, was a makeshift armoured vehicle developed by Venezuela in an attempt to intimidate their neighbours.  In the early 1930s there were not a great many armoured vehicles or tanks in South America.  The technology was relatively new and was still predominantly the preserve of European nations.  The Tortuga was indigenously developed, to supplement imported European tanks, at the Puerto Cabello shipyard which adapted a number of flatbed truck to various uses including anti-aircraft battery trucks.  

Based on the chassis of the 6x4 Ford Model BB truck which had a reinforced frame able to take the added weight of the steel plate, armament and crew.  Powered by a four cylinder engine it’s unlikely that the Tortuga would have been the fastest of tanks.  The tank was primarily armed with a .30 calibre or 7mm machine gun mounted in a small rotating turret and would be operated from a standing position.  With the tank’s low speed and machine gun armament the Tortuga can be classified as an infantry tank.

External image

Civilian Ford 6x4 truck (source)

From the photographs we can see that the tank retained its six wheel configuration with the two rear wheels linked by treads - essentially creating a half-track layout.  These wheels were partially protected by a skirt of the Tortuga’s sloping armour shell.  Two prominent viewing ports can be seen at the front of the tank, these were protected by armour plates hinged inside the tank.  It is believed up to 12 may have been built although only five are seen in the photographs above. 

At the time of the 1934 Maracay Airbase parade regional tensions were high with Colombia and Peru having just fought one another and Venezuela wished to dissuade any aggressive action from Colombia.  The Tortuga had a relatively short service life and probably saw no active service however, has the distinction of being Venezuela’s first indigenously designed and built tank.


Images One & Two Source

Image Three Source (a reproduction Tortuga Tank parading in 2008)

An Inca quipu, from the Larco Museum in Lima
Quipus (or khipus), sometimes called talking knots, were recording devices historically used in the region of Andean South America. A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair. It could also be made of cotton cords. The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten positional system. Quipus might have just a few or up to 2,000 cords.

Eva Peron: Historical and Political Background and Context

Argentina declared independence from Spain in 1825. Almost immediately thereafter, the country became embroiled in a Civil War which lasted until 1853. A constitution was installed in that year, and the country remained relatively stable until 1930.

The early twentieth century was a fairly prosperous time for Argentina; by 1929 Argentina had the world’s fourth highest per capita GDP. However, the stock market crash destroyed that stability, and gave rise to the political instability and unrest which would characterize the 1930’s for Argentina.

The first of many military coups was staged in 1930 when President Hipólito Yrigoyen was forced out of office, and replaced with Félix Uriburu. The next thirteen years—a period deemed by historians as the “Infamous Decade”—was characterized by continued economic instability and collapse, and increased violent conflict between the political left and the political right.

At the same time, the beginnings of what would become Word War II were stirring in Europe. As the Second World War began in earnest, Argentina came very close to fighting on the side of the Allied Forces; however, popular fear that that would lead to the spread of Communism forced Argentina to remain neutral.

On June 4, 1943, the GOU (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos)—a military junta, of which Juan Peron was a member—staged a coup and demanded the resignation of President Castillo; this is considered by historians to mark the end of the “Infamous Decade.” One of the leaders of the coup, Pedro Ramirez, assumed Supreme Executive power, and in that capacity broke all remaining Argentinian ties to the Axis powers. In 1944, another leader by the name of Edelmiro Farrell replaced Ramirez, and in 1945 he declared war on Germany. However, by that point, the war had already ended.

In the meantime Juan Peron had been named as Head of the Department of Labor. This work caused him to form an alliance of sorts between the Department, labor unions, and the socialist movements growing within those unions. This made him very popular with the people, but earned him some enemies within his former inner circle.

On January 15, 1944 the devastating San Juan earthquake hit the city of San Juan, and Peron became highly involved in the relief and fundraising efforts. These efforts increased his popularity amongst the people. It was also through these efforts that he met a young radio actress named Eva Duarte.

By 1945, Peron had been so committed—or perhaps, tied through questionable alliances—to labor unions and the social reform movement that conservatives forces within the government began to see him as an enemy, and began to fear his popularity amongst the people. This sentiment continued to grow until September 1945, when he was forced to resign. He was arrested shortly thereafter.

While the government may not have liked him, the public love for him only grew, and they greeted his arrest with such massive demonstrations that the government was forced to release him after only four days.

It is here, against a history of military coups and a backdrop of public devotion strong enough to sway a military government, that we can begin to discuss the woman who would soon be known to the world as Eva Peron.

ask historicity-was-already-taken a question

The 2,000-year-old masked face of a mummified Chinchorro woman peers out from shroud made from reeds, rope, and nonhuman skin, possibly of a pelican.

Unlike the ancient Egyptians, who considered only kings and other nobles worthy of mummification, the Chinchorro performed the sacred rite on nearly everyone, regardless of age or status. Infants and even fetuses were mummified with the same meticulous care as adults.

“Since you pay no importance to me I wish nothing to do with you."  -Emperor Atahualpa

November 16, 1532- Francisco Pizarro ambushes Incan Emperor Atahualpa, having invited him to meet under false pretenses, and captures the emperor during the Battle of Cajamarca. With 106 infantry, 62 cavalry, four cannons, and 12 harquebuses, Pizarro defeated the Incan force of 8,000 incans, whom had never seen horses or fire arms before. Atahualpa’s men wore leather armor and many of them were unarmed, most having ceremonial axes or knives. While the Spaniards attempted to pull him from his litter, his attendants continued to hold him up, even with their severed hands. Pizarro was also astounded at how the incans rushed between the Spaniards and their emperor, deliberately sacrificing themselves.

Picture- Battle of Cajamarca, author and date unknown

Mikhail Gorbachev and Fidel Castro, 1989
In his first visit to South America in April 1989, Gorbachev met in Havana with Fidel Castro. Crumbling Russian economy could no longer help Cuba as before, and although Gorbachev and Cuban tried to convince journalists that the friendship between Cuba and the Soviet Union was still as strong leaders signed a single agreement. (SERGEI GUNEYEV / AFP / Getty Images)