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Brazil: Flags of the Republican Revolution (1888-1889)

Last modified: 2013-12-13 by ian macdonald
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Republican Flag Proposal of Júlio Ribeiro

[Proposal by Júlio 
Ribeiro for Brazilian National Flag, 1888]by Joseph McMillan

The modern flag of the state of São Paulo came from the republican proposal of 16 July 1888 in Júlio Ribeiro's journal O Rebate.. The initial design consisted of fifteen alternate stripes, eight black and seven white, with a red rectangle in the canton, symbolizing the racial fusion of the three races.
Jaume Ollé, 2 July 1996

I recently came across this account of an early (pre-republic) hoisting of this flag. The information is from a leaflet on the history of the city of Sao José do Rio Pardo by Rodolpho José del Guerra, transcribed at It says that in June 1889, members of the "Italian 20th of September Society," a group with substantial republican membership, clashed with monarchists in the streets of Sao José do Rio Pardo, causing troops to be dispatched to restore calm. After two months of relative quiet, the contention resumed in August when a republican leader was attacked by police following a political gathering. The next morning, 11 August 1889, the republicans seized the building housing the municipal assembly and the jail, hoisting the revolutionary flag of Júlio Ribeiro and proclaiming the establishment of a republic, all to the strains of the Marseillaise. The next afternoon, troops arrived from São Paulo and recaptured the city. I'm not sure if this is the first hoisting of this flag "in the cloth," but it's significant that the flag had acquired a sufficient following that republicans in a provincial town would have one to hoist after a relatively spontaneous uprising less than a month after Ribeiro published his design.
Joseph McMillan, 28 October 2002

The flag designed by Ribeiro was hoisted on the Provincial Government Palace in São Paulo on 15 November 1889, the day the republic was proclaimed in Rio de Janeiro, and continued to fly there for some days afterward.
Joseph McMillan, 16 September 2002

Flag of the Lopes Trovão Republican Center (1888)

Centro Republicano Lopes Trovão

Lopes Trovão Republican Center (Brazil, 1888-89) by Joseph McMillan

According to F. Pereira Lessa, Bandeiras históricas do Brasil (Rio: Gráfica Guarany, 1940), pp. 34 and 37, the flag of the Centro Republicano Lopes Trovão was preserved in the Federal District Archives in Rio. This flag was carried in the streets of Rio on 3 November 1888 when the republican agitator Lopes Trovão returned from exile in Europe. It was the flag of 13 stripes, seven yellow and six green, with 20 white stars on a black canton arranged in four clusters of five (2-1-2) each.
Joseph McMillan, 3 May 2003


[Variant Flag of the Lopes Trovão Republican Center (Brazil) by Andy Weir and Joseph McMillan

According to a website sponsored by the Brazilian Naval Club (no longer available) this flag had a square black canton with twenty stars (five rows of four) symbolizing the 20 states of the republic.
Joseph McMillan,12 April 2001

Proposal of the Central Committee of the Republican Party


National Flag Proposal by Republican Party (Brazil, 1888-89) by Joseph McMillan

Lessa says that the Central Committee of the Republican Party led by Quintino Bocaiuva proposed a design for the national flag similar to the Lopes Trovão flag, with seven green and six yellow stripes and a blue canton bearing a ring of 20 white stars (for the states) surrounding the constellation of the Southern Cross.
Joseph McMillan, 3 May 2003

First Flag of the Republic

November 1889

[First Flag of the Republic 
of Brazil] by Andy Weir

A friend from Brazil, Carlos Noronha, transmitted me various information, among others a color photocopy of what seems be the page of an encyclopedia, on which figures a provisional flag of the Brazilian Republic. The flag is almost identical to that of State of Piauí, apart from the number of stars, 21, probably referring to the number of provinces at the time. The thirteen bars in the flag of Piauí symbolize the Brazilian country.
Jaume Ollé, 19 August 1996

I would say this was neither a provisional flag nor a revolutionary flag, as this was the official flag of the Provisional Government of Brazil, adopted on 15 November 1889 and abolished on 19 November 1889. The canton was square. It was proposed with the words "Let us adopt a flag like the United States has"--thus the 13 stripes and the stars equal to the number of Brazilian states. As the designer of the flag "had no heraldic knowledge and no knowledge of Brazilian tradition," the flag was rejected four days later. Possibly it never was used (?). The ratio of the flag was possibly 5:7, as it is shown in Ribeiro's book as 6:8 and the follow up is drawn in 56:78 which is almost exactly 5:7.
Ralf Stelter, 8 February 2001

Clóvis Ribeiro says this flag was hoisted at the offices of the newspaper A Cidade do Rio and later at the municipal chamber building upon the proclamation of the republic (15 November 1889), and was subsequently adopted by the provisional government. Sebastião Ferrarini, in Armas, brasões e símbolos nacionais (Curitiba: Instituto de Ensino Camões, 1979) concurs that this was the first national flag of the republic, although he also shows a facsimile of a dispatch from Marshael Deodoro Fonseca, the leader of the coup that ousted the emperor, saying "The national flag, already known and well recognized, continues, substituting the cruzeiro (Southern Cross) for the crown above the shield."
Joseph McMillan, 3 May 2003

A version of this flag with a blue rectangle containing 20 stars for the 20 states plus one for the Neutral Municipality [federal district in Rio de Janeiro]was flown aboard the Brazilian naval ship Alagoas when it departed with Dom Pedro II and the imperial family for exile, on 16 November 1889. This flag was the first Brazilian republican flag recognized in Europe and is now in the Museum of the Republic in Rio de Janeiro.
Joseph McMillan, 12 April 2001

According to Lessa, the version of this flag flown on the Alagoas had only 20 stars (four rows of five).
Joseph McMillan, 3 May 2003

Brazilians seem to be even more nostalgic than Americans about old flag designs. Several old flag designs, either of Brazil or of this or that revolt or revolution, have made their way into state flags. The 1889 flag seems to be the inspiration for the flags of Goiás, Piauí, and Sergipe.
Ole Andersen, 8 February 2001

Republican Flag Used by the Brazilian Navy (1889)

[Flag Used by Brazilian Navy, 1889] by Joseph McMillan

The Alagoas also flew a red flag with 21 white stars in saltire, the one in the center larger than the others. This flag was ordered into use by the navy by its commander, Admiral Wandenkolk, who informed the adjutant of the fleet--apparently prematurely or erroneously--that this was the new national flag.
Joseph McMillan, 3 May 2003

Flag of the Almirante Barroso

[Flag of the Cruiser Almirante Barroso, 1889-1890] by Joseph McMillan, modified from an image by Simon Frame

According to this Brazilian website in Portuguese, the Brazilian Navy cruiser Almirante Barroso was in the midst of a midshipmen's training cruise around the world when the 1889 revolution took place. It departed Brazil on 7 October 1888. It was only on 17 December 1889, when it arrived at Colombo (now Sri Lanka), that the captain received a telegram from the Minister of the Navy of the Provisional Government telling him of the advent of the Republic. The captain, Custódio José de Mello, decided to use a flag similar to the Imperial ensign but substituting a red star for the crown. This flag was hoisted aboard the Almirante Barroso that day. The ship subsequently received the official flag of the Republic upon leaving Alexandria, Egypt, for Naples, on 8 April 1890.
Joseph McMillan,12 April 2001