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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Britain and Brazil, 1900-1920 Munn, Barry Walter

Abstract

The availability of new document sources in Britain and Brazil has made it possible to examine this crucial period in the development of relations between the two countries. After exerting considerable economic and political influence in Brazil during the nineteenth century, British supremacy began to be challenged by German and American interests. At the same time, the Brazilian economy was undergoing fundamental changes brought about by the collapse of rubber and coffee and the development of diversified industrial activity. The main effect of this process was to reduce Brazilian dependence on British capital and imports, and to foster her own growth as an international unit of some importance. British opinions regarding the state of Brazil during this period were generally pessimistic, and ran counter to the accepted view that she was passing through a phase of progress and prosperity. British diplomatic sources, not always well-informed, saw little hope for the country, and these thoughts were echoed by several leading Brazilian intellectuals. The British Minister in Rio de Janeiro, Sir William Haggard, was totally unconvinced about Brazil's future prospects, and was unsuccessful in developing fruitful relations with his counterparts. The policies of the Barão do Rio Branco brought Brazil closer to expanding American interests. The First World War was important in that it witnessed the eclipse of Germany from the international scene and produced a marked improvement in Anglo-Brazilian relations. The British Minister, Sir Arthur Peel, was more successful than his predecessor in his official dealings, and the common interests of the War established closer ties between the two countries. By the end of the War, however, Brazil had emerged as a prominent factor in the affairs of the hemisphere, and her own national and international development signalled the end of Anglo-Brazilian relations as they had existed before the turn of the century.

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