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Tiradentes - Joaquim José da Silva Xavier

Dentist turned national hero!


April 21 is a Brazilian national holiday, Tiradentes, commemorating the execution of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier of Minas Gerais state. A man of various talents, including merchant, doctor and dentist, or tooth puller, Tiradentes was disastified with Portuguese rule in Brazil. No doubt influenced by the American War of Independence, Tiradentes led the first organized movememt against the Portuguese.

When Portuguese officials attempted to collect back taxes when the gold that had made Minas Gerais state wealthy and powerful was petering out, Tiradentes organized a protest, and for his efforts, was jailed and executed on April 21, 1792. Details in Inconfidência Mineira.

Today, Tiradente is a national hero, and is celebrated during the week-long festivities of Semana da Inconfidência, recalling the events leading to his death.

There is also a city named for him in Minas Gerais. Founded in 1709 by João de Siqueira Afonso, the discoverer of gold in mnay areas of the mountains of São José, the small alluvial mining community was called Arraial de Santo Antonio. The name later changed to Arraial Velho de Santo Antônio, and later to Vila de São José Del Rei, in honor of the Portuguese king.

The name changed once again. On December 6, 1889 the governor of the state renamed the city the Cidade e Município de Tiradentes in honor of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes. In the early 1900s, with gold being exhausted, the town of Tiradentes became almost a ghost town and remained the way it was for many years. In 1938, Tiradentes was recognized for its historical importance, Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional and is today a tourist destination.

Have you been to Tiradentes or Minas Gerais? Or anywhere in Brazil? if so, share your experiences with a Reader Review.

Boa viagem!

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