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Memory

The first shapes of the province

Printed in Paris, the first large map of São Paulo facilitated the layout of streets and settlement of the territory

Mappa chorographico da provincia de São Paulo, dated 1841: consulted by public officials, intellectuals, and travelers

Public Archives of the state of São Paulo Mappa chorographico da provincia de São Paulo, dated 1841: consulted by public officials, intellectuals, and travelersPublic Archives of the state of São Paulo

Western São Paulo State looks like an “unknown sertão” without a single mention of its indigenous populations, but the region near the coast is quite detailed on the 1841 Mappa chorographico da provincia de São Paulo (Descriptive Map of the Province of São Paulo), the first printed map to represent the entire province of São Paulo and become a tool for management of the territory.  Printed in Paris in 1841, the first copies—about 100—came into the hands of the deputies of the Legislative Assembly a year later.  Since 1835 the legislators had longed for maps to help them administer the province after they had won relative autonomy for tax assessment under constitutional reforms that followed the 1831 abdication of Dom Pedro I.

Daniel Pedro Müller, a military engineer, was chosen to make the map.  “In 1835, Müller was the most experienced and well-trained military engineer in the province of São Paulo, the best suited for carrying out that task,” observes José Rogério Beier, a historian who since 2012 has been studying the map at the University of São Paulo (USP) under his advisor, Professor Iris Kantor.  Müller worked from personal notes and observations made by other engineers in the service of the Crown in making his own graphic representation of the province, which at the time included part of the present state of Paraná.

Map mistakenly attributed to Müller, without confirmation of authorship; the hamlet of Pinheiros is likely the current city of Valinhos

Public Archives of the state of São Paulo Map mistakenly attributed to Müller, without confirmation of authorship; the hamlet of Pinheiros is likely the current city of ValinhosPublic Archives of the state of São Paulo

Born in Portugal to German parents, Müller studied at the Royal Academy of the Navy of Portugal and moved to Brazil in 1802, at age 17, as an aide to the governor of the captaincy.  As engineer, he completed several construction projects like the Piques road, now Rua de Consolação, and the fountain in what is now Largo da Memória, in Anhangabaú.  As a member of the military, Muller participated in the campaign against a threat of an attack by the Spaniards in 1819 and in the Cisplatine War against Argentina in 1825.  He returned to São Paulo as a retired field marshal.  In 1835, the newly-instituted Legislative Assembly gave him a two-part order: organize the statistics and prepare a map of the province.

“The order from the Legislative Assembly for a map and a population and economic census suggests that the political elite were concerned about occupying the territory and developing an infrastructure of roads and communications with the port of Santos, as well as about the ability to expand territorial occupation toward the west,” Kantor observes.  “The survey and the map drawn by Pedro Müller enabled São Paulo officials to consolidate a plan for autonomy and affirmation of economic interests starting in 1835,” Beier concludes.

Obelisk on Largo da Memória, in the center of São Paulo: one of the works by Müller

Wikimedia Commons Obelisk on Largo da Memória, in the center of São Paulo: one of the works by MüllerWikimedia Commons

Because of the lack of an appropriate print shop in Brazil, the map, which measures 102.4 x 151.6 centimeters, was sent to Paris, then a worldwide center of cartographic production.  The copies “circulated not only among agencies of the provincial administration and the court, but also among academies of science like the Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute, and travelers like Sir Richard Francis Burton,” observed Beier in an article published in 2014 in the journal Tempos Históricos.

In the midst of his research, Beier found a map attributed to Müller in the Public Archives of the state of São Paulo, indicating a new road to be opened to a hamlet known as Pinheiros.  He examined it with Élzio José da Silva, coordinator of the cartography section of the archive.  “We didn’t find any evidence that the map was made by Müller.  There is no signature and the calligraphy doesn’t match that of the retired field marshal,” says Beier.  “Furthermore, the map does not describe a road to what is now the district of Pinheiros in the city of São Paulo, but rather a route to a village near what was then the town of São Carlos, now Campinas.  The village of Pinheiros represented on the map is most probably the current municipality of Valinhos, known at the time as Pouso dos Pinheiros.” Müller had a house near the Pinheiros River.  In 1842, indebted and distressed, he committed suicide by drowning himself in that river.

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