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 Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier (August 16, 1746-April 21, 1792), known as Tiradentes (meaning "tooth puller" - a nickname adopted during the trial against him), was part of the Brazilian seditious movement known as the Inconfidencia Mineira. Born in Sao Jose del Rei (now called Tiradentes), Minas Gerais, Tiradentes practiced several professions - cattle driver, miner, dentist - and was a member of the Regimento dos Dragones de Minas Gerais militia.

The Portuguese were, at this time, increasing pressure on the colony to meet the yearly quota of gold requested by the crown, Brazilians could not meet these expectations. Influenced by the American Revolution, Tiradentes joined with a number of citizens in the Inconfidencia. They sought to establish a republish with its capital at Sao Joao del Rei and to create a univeristy.

Tiradentes took to the street on a day of derrama (or the days of payment of taxes) and rallied on behalf of the Brazilian Republic. The movement was denounced by the governor, who ordered the imprisonment of the rebels. Tiradentes fled to Rio, where he tried to reorganize the movement. He was arrested on May 10, 1789.

His trial lasted almost three years, and Tiradentes assumed all responsibility for the movement. On April 21, 1792 (a National Holiday in Brazil), Tiradentes was hanged in Rio de Janeiro. He began to be considered a national hero by the republicans in the late 19th century, and after the republic was proclaimed in Brazil in 1889 the anniversary of his death became a national holiday.






Updated: 18 March 2008


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