The Senate of the Empire

The Federal Senate was installed on May 6th, 1826, having as first president the Marquês de Santo Amaro [Marquis of Santo Amaro]. Its first headquarters was the Conde dos Arcos Palace, which became known as the "Paço do Senado", located in Campo da Aclamação, former Campo de Sant'Anna, in Rio de Janeiro.

The history of the Senate goes back to the very process of Brazil's Independence: on March

25th of 1824, the first Brazilian Constitution was granted, which stayed in force until the advent of the Republic in 1889. By the Constitution of 1824, the senators were appointed for life. On that occasion, the number of senators were linked to that of deputies by province, and one senator should be elected for every two deputies; however, if a province had the right for only one deputy, the election of one senator was allowed. On the basis of triple lists sent by the provinces, the Emperor was the one who chose those who should compose the Senate Chamber.

Besides that, the Princes of the Imperial Household were entitled to seat in this House, as as soon as

they became 25 years old. By that criterion, Pincess Isabel was the first woman to be a senator in Brazil.

The first composition of the Senate, counted on members of the nobility, the bench and the clergy. There were 50 senators, namely 23 barons, viscounts and marquises; nine judges; seven members of the Roman Catholic Church; four from the Army; in additon to two doctors, a lawyer and four landowners.

See here the list of the first Brazilian senators.

From Independence and during regencies, the senators participated actively in driving the country’s fate, putting the Senate in the front line of the Brazilian political history. It was in the Senate, for example, that occurred the recognition of the majority of D. Pedro II in 1840; and the oath of Princess Isabel, in 1860. Senators also played a decisive role in the whole process that culminated in the end of slavery in 1888.

The Senate was the scene of important events in the Empire: at its headquarters spoke

D. Pedro I, D. Pedro II and Princess Isabel, at the beginning of the legislative sessions, in speeches that became known as "The Speeches of the Throne." This document, by the way, was included in the Unesco Memory of the World Programme.