The Portuguese village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga was marked by the founding of the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. The Jesuit college of twelve priests included Manuel da Nobrega and Jose de Anchieta, and their structure was located on top of a steep hill between the rivers Anhangabaú and Tamanduateí.
They first had a small structure built of rammed earth, made by the Indian workers in their traditional style. The priests wanted to evangelize - teach (catechesis) the Indians who lived in the Plateau region of Piratininga and convert them to Christianity. The site was separated from the coast by the Serra do Mar, called by the Indians Serra Paranapiacaba.
The name of the college was chosen as it was founded on the celebration of the conversion of the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. Father José de Anchieta wrote this account in a letter to the Society of Jesus:
"The settlement of the region's Courtyard of the College began in 1560. During the visit of Mem de Sá, Governor-General of Brazil, the Captaincy of São Vicente, he ordered the transfer of the population of the Village of Santo André da Borda do Campo to the vicinity of the college. It was then named "College of St. Paul Piratininga". The new location was on a steep hill adjacent to a large wetland, the lowland do Carmo. It offered better protection from attacks by local Indian groups. It was renamed Vila de São Paulo, belonging to the Captaincy of São Vicente."
For the next two centuries, São Paulo developed as a poor and isolated village that survived largely through the mostly native population's cultivation of subsistence crops. For a long time, São Paulo was the only village in Brazil's interior, as travel was too difficult to reach the area. Mem de Sá forbade colonists to use the "Path Piraiquê" (Piaçaguera today), because of frequent Indian raids along it.
On March 22, 1681, the Marquis de Cascais, the donee of the Captaincy of São Vicente, moved the capital to the village of St. Paul, designating it the "Head of the captaincy." The new capital was established in April 23, 1683, with public celebrations.
In the 17th century, São Paulo was one of the poorest regions of the Portuguese colony. It was also the center of interior colonial development. Because they were extremely poor, the Paulistas could not afford to buy African slaves, as did other Spanish colonists. The discovery of gold in the region of Minas Gerais, in the 1690s, brought attention and new settlers to São Paulo. The new Real Captaincy of São Paulo and Minas do Ouro was created in November 3, 1709, when the Portuguese crown purchased the Captaincy of São Paulo and Santo Amaro Captaincy from his former grantees.
Conveniently located in the country, up the steep Serra do Mar sea ridge when travelling from Santos, while also not too far from the coastline, São Paulo became a safe place to stay for tired travellers. The town became a centre for the bandeirantes, intrepid explorers who marched into unknown lands in search for gold, diamonds, precious stones, and Indians to make slaves of. The bandeirantes, which could be translated as "flag-bearers" or "flag-followers", organized excursions into the land with the primary purpose of profit and the expansion of territory for the Portuguese crown. Trade grew from the local markets and from providing food and accommodation for explorers. The bandeirantes eventually became politically powerful as a group, and were considered responsible for the expulsion of the Jesuits from the city of São Paulo in 1640, after a series of conflicts between the Jesuits and the bandeirantes over the trade of Indian slaves.
On July 11, 1711, the town of São Paulo was elevated to city status. Around the 1720s, gold was found by the pioneers in the regions near what are now Cuiabá and Goiania. The Portuguese expanded their Brazilian territory beyond the Tordesillas Line.
When the gold ran out in the late 18th century, São Paulo shifted to growing sugar cane, which spread through the interior of the Captaincy. The sugar was exported through the Port of Santos. At that time, the first modern highway between São Paulo and the coast was constructed and named the Walk of Lorraine.
Nowadays, the estate that is home to the Governor of the State of São Paulo, located in the city of São Paulo, is called the Palácio dos Bandeirantes (Palace of Bandeirantes), in the neighbourhood of Morumbi.
After Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1823, as declared by Dom Pedro I where the Monument of Ipiranga is located, he named São Paulo as an Imperial City. In 1827, a law school was founded at the Convent of São Francisco, these days a part of the University of São Paulo. The influx of students and teachers gave a new impetus to the city's growth, thanks to which the city became the Imperial City and Borough of Students of St. Paul of Piratininga.
The expansion of coffee production was a major factor in the growth of São Paulo, as it became the region's chief export crop and yielded good revenue. It was cultivated initially in the Vale do Paraíba (Paraíba Valley) region in the East of the State of São Paulo, and later on in the regions of Campinas, Rio Claro, São Carlos and Ribeirão Preto.
From 1869 onwards, São Paulo was connected to the port of Santos by the Railroad Santos-Jundiaí, nicknamed The Lady. In the late 19th century, several other railroads connected the interior to the state capital. São Paulo became the point of convergence of all railroads from the interior of the state. Coffee was the economic engine for major economic and population growth in the State of São Paulo.
In 1888, the "Golden Law" (Lei Áurea) was sanctioned by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, declaring abolished the slavery institution in Brazil. Slaves were the main source of labour in the coffee plantations until then. As a consequence of this law, and following governmental stimulus towards the increase of immigration, the province began to receive a large number of immigrants, largely Italians and Portuguese peasants, many of whom settled in the capital. The region's first industries also began to emerge, providing jobs to the newcomers, especially those who had to learn Portuguese.
By the time Brazil became a republic in 15 November 1889, coffee exports were still an important part of São Paulo's economy. São Paulo grew strong in the national political scene, taking turns with the also rich state of Minas Gerais in electing Brazilian presidents, an alliance that became known as "coffee and milk", given that Minas Gerais was famous for its dairy produce.
Industrialization was the economic cycle that followed the coffee plantation model. By the hands of some industrious families, including many immigrants of Italian and Jewish origin, factories began to arise and São Paulo became known for its smoky, foggy air. The cultural scene followed modernist and naturalist tendencies in fashion at the beginning of the 20th century. Some examples of notable modernist artists are poets Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade, artists Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral and Lasar Segall, and sculptor Victor Brecheret. The Modern Art Week of 1922 that took place at the Theatro Municipal was an event marked by avant-guard ideas and works of art.
São Paulo's main economic activities derive from the services industry - factories are since long gone, and in came financial services institutions, law firms, consulting firms. Old factory buildings and warehouses still dot the landscape in neighbourhoods such as Barra Funda and Brás. Some cities around São Paulo, such as Diadema, São Bernardo do Campo, Santo André and Cubatão are still heavily industrialized to the present day, with factories producing from cosmetics to chemicals to automobiles.
This "revolution" is considered by some historians as the last armed conflict to take place in Brazil's history. In 9 July 1932, the population of São Paulo town rose against a coup d'état by Getúlio Vargas to take the presidential office. The movement grew out of local resentment from the fact that Vargas ruled by decree, unbound by a constitution, in a provisional government. The 1930 coup also affected São Paulo by eroding the autonomy that states enjoyed during the term of the 1891 Constitution and preventing the inauguration of the governor of São Paulo Júlio Prestes in the Presidency of the Republic, while simultaneously overthrowing President Washington Luís, who was governor of São Paulo from 1920 to 1924. These events marked the end of the Old Republic.
The uprising commenced on 9 July 1932, after four protesting students were killed by federal government troops on 23 May 1932. On the wake of their deaths, a movement called MMDC (from the initials of the names of each of the four students killed, Martins, Miragaia, Dráusio and Camargo) started. A fifth victim, Alvarenga, was also shot that night, but died months later.
In a few months, the state of São Paulo rebelled against the federal government. Counting on the solidarity of the political elites of two other powerful states, (Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul), the politicians from São Paulo expected a quick war. However, that solidarity was never translated into actual support, and the São Paulo revolt was militarily crushed on October 2, 1932. In total, there were 87 days of fighting (July 9 to October 4, 1932—with the last two days after the surrender of São Paulo), with a balance of 934 official deaths, though non-official estimates report up to 2,200 dead, and many cities in the state of São Paulo suffered damage due to fighting.
There is an obelisk in front of Ibirapuera Park that serves as a memorial to the young men that died for the MMDC. The University of São Paulo's Law School also pays hommage to the students that died during this period with plaques hung on its arcades.
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