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Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, Viscount of Mauá facts for kids

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Irineu Evangelista de Sousa
Irineu evangelista de sousa the viscount of maua.png
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, c.1872
Born (1813-12-28)28 December 1813
Arroio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Portuguese Colony)
Died 21 October 1889(1889-10-21) (aged 76)
Occupation Business magnate; investor
Net worth $60 billion USD (2009 dollars)
200 Réis de 1937 (verso).png200 Réis de 1937.png
Mauá's likeness in a 200 réis coin from 1937.

Irineu Evangelista de Sousa, the Viscount of Mauá ( 1813–1889) was a Brazilian entrepreneur, industrialist, banker and politician. Born to a family of small estancieiros (ranchers), Mauá became one of the world's richest men; by 1867, his wealth was larger than the annual budget of the Brazilian Empire. He was called the Rothschild of the South American continent by the New York Times in 1871. He received the titles of baron (1854) and visconde com grandeza (viscount with greatness) (1874) of Mauá. A pioneer in several areas of the economy of Brazil, one of his greatest achievements was to start the construction of the Mauá Railroad, the first railroad in Brazil.

At his peak, Mauá controlled eight of the country's ten largest companies (the remaining two were state-owned); his banking interests stretched over to Britain, France, the United States and Argentina. Mauá also founded the first bank in Uruguay (Banco Mauá Y Cia).

Mauá, who established the modern Banco do Brasil, is credited with financing much of the Brazilian economy activity in the 19th century, particularly in coffee plantation, and with the construction of the first railroads, shipyard and cast iron metalwork in the country. Mauá commissioned the first telegraphic submarine cable connecting South America to Europe, developed commercial transportation via steamboats on rivers Amazon and Guaíba, and installed the first gas-fueled street lights in the city of Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's capital. His fortunes turned around with the decay of the Empire after the Paraguayan War, however, and, by the time he died, Mauá had lost most of his wealth.

Legacy and honors

At a time in which Brazil was dominated by government-protected landowners who prioritized exports in a slave-based economy, Mauá defended free enterprise, liberalism, industrialization and the abolition of slavery. After his death, he was given several honors and acknowledgements:

  • He is the patron of the Ministry of Transport
  • The city of Visconde de Mauá is named after him
  • The Baron of Mauá International Bridge links the city of Jaguarão, Rio Grande do Sul with Río Branco, Uruguay
  • The day celebrated to the merchant navy in Brazil is on Maua's birthday, December 28th, due to his efforts ahead of the Ponta d'Areia shipyard.
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