JOAQUIN JOSE DA SILVA XAVIER
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.