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Luís Pereira de Sousa, Washington

Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa

b. 26 Oct 1869, Macaé, Rio de Janeiro
d. 4 Aug 1957, São Paulo, São Paulo

Title: Presidente da República dos Estados Unidos do Brasil (President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil)
Term: 15 Nov 1926 - 24 Oct 1930
Chronology: 1 Mar 1926, elected by direct popular voting
  15 Nov 1926, took the oath of office at the session of the National Congress, held at the seat of the Chamber of Deputies, in the Tiradentes Palace, Rio de Janeiro
  24 Oct 1930, ceased to exercise functions of president with his arrest on order of military coup leaders

Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa descended from an aristocratic family of the State of São Paulo and was educated as lawyer. His political career started in 1897, when he became a municipal officer and then mayor of Batatais. In 1900 Luís won election to the federal Chamber of Deputies as opposition candidate, but his mandate was cancelled by the commission for verification of powers. He then moved to the city of São Paulo, where he made his career as a member of the Paulista Republican Party and was elected to the State Chamber of Deputies (1904-1906). He successfully held a number of key offices in the State of São Paulo, including that of secretary for justice (1906-1912), of mayor of São Paulo (1914-1919) and of President of the State (1 May 1920 - 1 May 1924). After leaving the state government, Luís entered the federal Senate (1925-1926). Running without organized opposition, Luís was elected President of the Republic in 1926. Upon assuming the office, he lifted the state of emergency declared by his predecessor, but promulgated a law imposing censorship on the press and restricting the right of meetings (1927). However, the primary concern of the Luís government was declining economy. Imminent crisis of the coffee market forced Luís to look for economic solutions. As a measure to stabilize the coffee market and to deal with an enormous foreign debt, he initiated a monetary reform supported by the National Congress. The government also attempted to limit the production of coffee, which could not find customers outside Brazil on the verge of the world economic decline. The Great Depression, which broke out in October 1929, left Brazil with huge amount of unsellable coffee reserves. In 1930, when the term of Luís's presidency was about to expire, his government favored a political scheme providing for election of another São Paulo candidate as his successor. The government orchestrated the election of Júlio Prestes de Albuquerque (1 Mar 1930), but the opposition led by the Liberal Alliance refused to recognize the defeat of their candidate, former finance minister, Getúlio Dorneles Vargas. The opposition found an ally in the Brazilian military excluded from political life by ruling coffee planter elite. Unleashed in the south, the Revolution of 1930 advanced towards the capital and the Washington Luís government was helpless to combat it. At a cabinet meeting in Guanabara Palace (24 Oct 1930), the president refused demands of the military to step down. Later in the day the palace was surrounded by troops and about 17:00 Washington Luís was taken into custody. Stubbornly refusing to resign, he was imprisoned at the Fort of Copacabana and then exiled. He returned to Brazil in 1947. [1]


Candidate Popular vote (1 Mar 1926) [2]
Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa 688,528
Joaquim Francisco de Assis Brasil 1,116
28 others 2 or more votes

[1] Dicionário Histórico-Biográfico Brasileiro (1984)
[2] Dicionário do voto (2000)