In 1835 in Rio Grande do Sul saw an uprising of the people seeking a more republican form of government. This was likely brought to the forefront due to the economy. The local population mainly produced beef, selling it as a dried and salted product. The trouble seemed to center on Uruguay and Argentina. Dried and salted beef from these countries was available to all of Brazil. While the Rio Grande do Sul dried and salted beef could be sold throughout Brazil, it was taxed heavily by the Brazilian Government. The result was dried and salted beef from Argentina and Uruguay was cheaper than the same dried and salted beef coming from within Brazil.
In 1835 when a new President was installed in Rio Grande do Sul, the ranchers were happy. Their demand for a fair marketplace seemed to have been heard. On the first day in office, however, the President accused the ranchers of being separatists. It was now clear the Rio Grande do Sul Government would continue the same unfair treatment by taxing dried and salted beef heavily. With tempers flaring, the uprising resulted in the new president escaping the capital as the revolutionaries took the city.
With those from the uprising in control, they quickly placed their own president in power. In a defiant move, Brazil appointed a new president for the state. This action, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, showed Brazil had no intent on trying to resolve the problem. The war was on in full speed.
The new nation run by the disgruntled former citizens had control of much of the state for a few years and the result was a growing resentment of Brazil in the state to the north, Santa Catarina. By 1839, in his first military action, Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian revolutionary, expelled from his home country, led the takeover of Santa Catarina by taking its capital, Laguna. With this action, the Juliana Republic was proclaimed. Garibaldi would later be credited with the unification of Italy.
The Juliana Republic was only independent for four months, but this was long enough to produce an offspring, Juliana Island.
Garibaldi met his future wife, Ana Ribeiro de Silva, known better as Anita, and she joined him in the fight that led to the Juliana Republic.
It is believed Garibaldi hired around 50 British soldiers as soldiers of fortune to assist in the takeover of Santa Catarina.
As the imperial forces took Laguna, Garibaldi, knowing the fate of the new republic, planned a hasty escape and released his hired military. Escaping with their lives, the British soldiers of fortune along with a good number of women and some local men with various skills escaped to the open seas. Some think Garibaldi and his future wife were aboard.
The British soldiers feared Brazilian officials would be looking for them and would have likely been aided by British officials who would condemn such a renegade action, so they set sail to find a place to hide until tensions cooled and hopefully remain far from prying eyes until the actions became a more distant memory.
The ship sailed to an island of ‘substantial size’ offering ‘proper cover’ for the ship’s passengers. Located north of the Falkland Islands, this 40+ square mile island was shaped more like a bowl with high hills along the exterior and a fertile valley in the center. The rugged exterior left no indication of a pleasant inner valley. On the east side a peninsula offered a deep, narrow passage to a cove where a fairly large ship could anchor. From the cove, a narrow land passage between steep hills curved its way to the hidden inner valley some 5 kilometers distant. Fate had brought this group to a place where the outside world would likely never find them.
The some 180 inhabitants lived life in much the way they had in Brazil in the early days, It was quite colonial. The British soldiers along with Garibaldi, held control. They considered the Brazilian women and men as somewhat second class citizens, but one must understand this attitude was enriched on both sides. The British were given somewhat parental authority. The were seen as people who had kept them safe and helped to provide for their needs. Still, the British males were the decision makers with others having little, if any voice in matters. The soldiers demanded English be spoken and there are stories of other languages being outlawed including punishing school children for speaking any language other than English. Some claim the birth rate was strictly controlled and claim stiff drink was banned. Adultery was outlawed. Over time, through the blending of the population, this quickly fell by the wayside.
Some feel Garibaldi, a driven man, and his wife to be, became impatient staying on the island, assembled a small group of about 50 and set sail for Uruguay after a few months. The original ship that made for their escape was utilized to take Garibaldi to Uruguay, leaving the islanders cut off from the world. Garibaldi felt he must leave and promised to help the remaining people establish a clandestine trade amongst people of like mind. This paved the way for a brisk trade and survival for the island.
It would take until 1859 before any ship under the charge of any authority would visit Juliana. The vessel, bearing the British flag discovered the island’s protected cove. Although records do not expressly state, it was likely the same vessel that proclaimed the Falkland Islands for the Crown. It seems the crew, upon landing at Juliana, asked the name of the land and a local uttered his hometown’s name, Laguna. When asked the political affiliation, the group responded they were under the authority of Argentina. This was a bold face lie, but fearing they would be found out, figured if the captain felt another government was in control, he might set sail without provocation. Indeed, this was the case.
A few years later the settlers had discovered the Brazilian government had long since pardoned the revolutionaries and felt enough time had gone by for the British to consider the actions of these British military men a distant memory. Later the Crown did ‘forgive’ according to locals but no written record exists today. Even with their identity known, the islanders had spent so much time building a home on the island, they were content to stay.
By 1870 a merchant ship noted a small community of about 180 mixed descent people of friendly and optimistic nature were living peacefully on the fruits of their land.
The island is 8 miles long and 5 to 7 miles wide with a total land area of around 40 square miles. Today the population stands at about 400.
Juliana was the perfect hiding place for the crew. The island was certainly large enough to graze cattle in very good quantity and the soil, in areas, was substantial enough to grow the food the population needed. The east end of the island offered a cut deep enough for a large vessel and offered protection from stormy seas. Best of all, the protective strip of land prevented any vessel at sea from viewing these protective waters. Several streams provided an ample clean water supply. Even the makeup of the island with it’s mixture of valleys and hills provided a safe spot for the community where prying eyes would not see.
Laguna, connected to the cove through a valley that twisted back and forth, is almost 3 miles from the cove, intentionally placed at its location because it would take an hour of so of hiking to discover. The thinking was a vessel arriving would trek in a mile or so and seeing no life, consider the island uninhabited.
Tall hills flanking either end of the island offered exceptional 360 degree views and in the early years, a lookout was always on duty to alert the community of any nearby ship.
Most of the inner portion of the island is rolling hills flanked by two hills on the east and west, the eastern side allowing a narrow deep channel that empties into a small protected bay. From the bay, a narrow valley curves out to a more expansive center section where the main hub of the community is located. Spreading out from the center, the rolling hills rise further and further in elevation to effectively hide the center of the community.
As for the structures, the island is not extravagant. Homes and businesses are simple and a nearly Mediterranean feel or colonial South American feel prevails. Some ornate woodwork trim is about all that stands out. Even the church, usually a grand structure, is rather basic. Even so, the community seems out of place, as it seems it should be in a sunnier clime.
Part of the success of Juliana is the plentiful precipitation. Receiving almost 80 inches of rain annually, the climate averages about 8 degrees F. warmer than the Falkland Islands and while breezy, gales are not as frequent because of a more northerly location. Summer thunderstorms can be intense and sudden as most summer thunderstorms are over the open seas. Winter storms tend to be wet, windy events but snowfall can occur, although limited to once or twice a year and normally short-lived.
There was an amazing diversity among the inhabitants. A few were top notch in their trade. This is reflected in their architecture and layout of the settlement. Taking a cue from colonial influence, most homes were constructed in what was very much the style of Laguna, the community they departed from in Brazil. At the center stone roads were built, coming to a plaza at its center. Unlike many communities of Spanish influence, the plaza’s center was a nature lover’s delight with imported trees and flowers, walkways and covered gazebo-like structure supporting a bell, thought to be used to warn locals of a ship on the horizon in the earlier days.
Small fishing vessels were the first to call on Juliana and a brisk trade was established. Although the climate was not quite as rough as the Falkland Islands, it was certainly more severe than the coast of southern Brazil. It was the protected valleys that gave the islanders the ability to grow foods more common to the coast of Brazil. Imported plantings sometimes took root, creating a lush feel to the inner valleys.
The community was able to utilize their abilities and knowledge of ‘civilized and cultured’ life to establish a rare outpost in this portion of the Atlantic. Religion played an important role is establishing a safe and productive community. Soon schools and a church led to a civilized feel for the island. In fact, it was the quality of life built through hard labor and sharp minds that created a lifestyle that was of such quality that when the islanders learned they might settle elsewhere without persecution, they chose to stay.
Great attention was paid to forming a government that afforded freedom and effectiveness for the people. Perhaps the British soldiers of fortune were responsible for the results oriented efficiency. Certainly, they were influenced, like the remainder of the world, by the charm of the United States of America model of justice. Many of the non-British came from backgrounds where there was little hope of being more than a servant of a wealthy landowner, so the pleasure of greater equality and control of one’s destiny was clearly an incentive to create a very workable government passionately bent toward individual freedom and personal responsibility coupled with the reality that it took the cooperation among neighbors to achieve.
The fact was there were few power struggles and few incidents requiring justice to be served. Likely the biggest dispute was over religion. The Catholic faith and Church of England, while not to far from one another in belief, still held a resentment of the other that had been kept alive for a few centuries. Even this faded in time.
Some speculate it was religious beliefs that resulted in the unity of the people. As the years went on, the marriages between those of British influence and other heritages dissolved as the community had effectively become a ‘mutt’ ethnically. It was through this process, coupled with the requests of a priest to head the church, that the Catholic and Church of English beliefs morphed into a hybrid comfortable to all.
At the beginning, the British soldiers of fortune ruled the land unchallenged. Their command was effective in communicating to the men that they were the fathers of this community responsible for the community’s survival and the only true route to a successful and prosperous community was through a fair and just chain of command. One could say this was an amazing feat considering any titles or authority were ‘given’ rather than ‘authorized’. In most situations such characters soon find anarchy and paranoia prevailing among a group, quickly leading to a rapid downfall and fast failure.
Some feel the skills and value of the non-British commanded the respect of the ‘fathers’ of the community and their opinions and desires were eagerly included in decisions. It would take some years before a true government would develop. As the chain of command placed authority over certain aspects of life on the island, a council evolved. As the non-British were included in the decisions, a non-British council seemed to evolve. This dual council continued for ‘roughly a generation’ until the British bloodline became so blurred the council became one. But the path was not what would be expected.
As the two councils became one and equal in power (the British born council was considered superior), the various council members were undisputedly in charge of a certain aspect of the functioning government or perhaps a better term would be a minister of a segment of government. In earlier years these department heads reported their work without input from others, but soon other department heads began to question and suggest other alternatives resulting in a power struggle of sorts. As more rational heads prevailed, the problem was nipped in the bud through reforming the governing structure. Department heads were directed to formulate plans at the direction of the full council of department heads, “seeking unity and cooperation in all matters of the public interest”. The role changed from a dictatorial style to that of a servant of the people.
It was shortly after this announcement a formal government was established with a constitution and set rules for the election of governing officials as well as contesting their work.
Borrowing from the Constitution of the United States of American, with modification for the local situation, Juliana Island adopted the original Juliana Republic motto: Liberty, Equality, Humanity. Various ‘departments’ were articulated in writing with monthly business meetings commanded. Each government official was expected to serve the country without pay and commanded to serve in ‘purity from influence’ and ‘at the directive of the unified council’. Later, as some posts required more time, a provision was added to allow a ‘remittance of pay for workers required to execute the duties of the occupation of the government official in his absence caused by attending to matters of governance as approved by the unified council’. This simply meant that an assistant might be hired to oversee the occupation of the department head when government duties prevented the department head from working in his occupation. This was a provision that has yet to be abused but was needed as the Constitution clearly states: “It shall be the duty of all called by the people to serve, to fulfill their tasks for the greater good of all, as to be selected by the general populace is a great honor commanding the utmost in seriousness, attention and integrity. No greater honor can be bestowed upon man than the favor of his people.” To refuse was considered ‘a treacherous act’.
The constitution came in 1880 and was intentionally signed and ratified on the July 24, exactly 41 years after the creation of the original Juliana Republic.
The Government is made up of eleven department heads, all elected by popular vote. There are no political parties. Citizens 18 years and above may vote. Over the years some of the elected officials did not run for office. Unlike other nations, voters are urged to vote for the best person for the position. Those seeking a position announce their intent and are almost without exception elected to office. Terms are for 6 years. Elections are held each year for two positions. The head of government is called the Administrator, responsible for overseeing all departments and creating cooperation among all segments of government. Although the Administrator is not a department head, he can cast the deciding vote and is charged with bringing unity to the council. The Administrator is elected to a 3 year term.
The governing body works more like a company management team than a government. Each department must attempt to finance their work upon approval of the council. The work does not enter a governmental structure as such, but simply as a division of a company that is expected to find solvency in its operations.
As for legal matters, a court system is in place. Citizens are urged to ‘work out their differences’. When matters cannot be worked out, citizens are expected to find an arbitrator (usually a friend or neighbor) to help resolve the matter. If this is not effective, the case can be taken to the council, but this is considered a last resort option as the council typically frowns on this as it demonstrates a lack of cooperation among citizens. In instances as divorce, each party selects an arbitrator to represent them in negotiation a fair settlement.
The current rates of increase in silver and gold values against foreign currencies has led to somewhat of an economic boom in wages although exports are having a hard time finding themselves affordable in foreign markets. As a result, the council seems set on pushing self sufficiency versus pushing for lowered wages. There has been talk of allowing some immigration to establish new companies that can lead to more self sufficiency. It is a hotly debated topic.
Traditionally immigration has never been permitted unless it was an immediate family member. Foreigners have never been allowed any interest in a local company. The Constitution affords no option for citizenship or ownership rights to any person not born on the island (remember the Constitution came well after initial settlement…over 40 years later). Even the original settlers were up in age and had made arrangements for their children to take over their business if they had not done so already. To seek approval, the board granted this provision if those not born on the island would be exempt from taxes levied on their business and provided their children who would be left with ownership of the business, if they would tend to the needs of their parents ‘in a fashion that they have become accustomed’.
From what we can gather, the island population generates about $10.5 million U.S. per annum with the average worker making almost US$13.50 an hour during an average 35 hour work week.
Even at that rate of pay, the price of goods exceeds pricing on the mainland for imported goods. As all imports come on smaller vessels, shipping charges are rather costly. As you might suspect, locally produced products are much lower in price and the concerted effort of the population to be more self-sufficient, it is only natural locals prefer local over imported items.
MORE MODERN TIMES
The level of modern convenience and prosperity of the island is on par with the rest of the world.
Homes are plumbed and have electricity, being solidly constructed. Most homes contain several rooms and do not differ much from American, European or South American homes. The home sizes are considered sufficient and upscale housing does not exist.
Most homes have a motorized vehicle. There is a good road system with some 40 kilometers of all weather roads, some 26 kilometers of gravel roads and 64 kilometers of earthen roads. Farms, dairies and ranches dot the valleys.
External transportation is by boat. While there is sufficient land for an airport to service small commuter planes, the distance such a plane would have to cover before refueling and the tendency for quickly changing weather conditions would likely discourage most. The amount of flat land for larger planes is not available. When airstrips are contemplated, the question becomes the best use of the land in question. The discussion usually ends with an evaluation of how much food can be produced from the land versus the benefit of air travel.
Ships provide external transport of imports, exports and passengers. For this small population, sea transport seems adequate.
It is interesting that in time of dire emergencies, helicopters have been used by stationing a ship at a specific location for refueling. In one such medical evacuation, this was utilized, in coordination of foreign military and medical officials.
Per capita income is on a level with the United States of America and most of Europe, the typical family would be considered lower middle class, slightly below the middle class median. The cost of living compares to a South American modern city of 100,000 to 250,000 as found in Southern Brazil and its southern neighbors. While most of a family’s basic needs would be considered ‘cheap’, most imported items would be considered a bit over the continental price due to transportation costs being added.
The community seems to lack the social problems found elsewhere. Crime is almost non-existent and the country has but one fulltime police officer and three trained deputies who may be called in times of need.
The education level on the island has proven acceptable to allow a few students to gain entrance to various colleges. Students receive a very unique education including not only classroom instruction but also ‘life-learning’ or in the field education. The typical graduate has a basic understanding of many career choices through hands-on work in times classroom instruction takes a holiday. The typical student has basic knowledge in most occupations available on the island, understands how government and community work and has a general classroom education with accelerated learning in specific subjects of the student’s interest. Drug use and alcohol abuse is unheard of. Very few female students become pregnant and just as few use tobacco. As one visitor put it, they seem to be model students that would make any parent proud. Educators point out they always recognize positive achievements of students which they say deters negative behavior because negative behavior is a cry for attention. Educators say the attention given positive results satisfies this need for attention and centers the student on productive pursuits.
Medical access is much like neighboring areas and the quality of life is generally equal to southern Brazil. There is a small hospital with pharmacy, dental and optical departments. The hospital is well equipped and the small staff is ‘up on modern advances in medicine’.
Only the most critical cases must be attended to off the island. Overall, the health of the islanders is considered good to very good.
One visitor was impressed with the balance of work and play among the population. The statement was that the people seem happy and content, having found a balance between work and family that does not demand one take the priority over the other.
Coinage has always played a part in Juliana’s history but it typically took a back seat to silver and gold in its pure form. In the early days revolutionary coinage and British small change was the medium of exchange for small purchases however as coins wore down or were hoarded, chunks of silver and gold quickly became the norm. It was more common to cut off a chunk from a silver or gold bar to make a purchase even though the rare revolutionary and British coin showed up here and there.
From what we can determine, the Copper Penny and Half Penny of Britain were common as well as the crude coins made from buttons that circulated in southern Brazil during the War of the Tatters. It was thought about 2,000 of the button coins might have made it to Juliana. It was thought the soldiers of fortune were paid in silver and gold.
An attempt at a currency in the 1850s was unsuccessful. Money was made from the horns of cattle and small squares of cowhide. The decree was that a square of cowhide was equal to a British Half Penny and a bone coin was worth 24 cowhide squares. The original Juliana Republic counterstamp found on the original coins was burned in the bone and leather in a method no different from branding cattle. For commerce, however, the plan did not find the approval of the general population and was quickly abandoned.
The first coins made on Juliana were fabricated by Jonathon Smith, one of the original settlers. He made his hammered coins of pure silver without any markings to identify the value or origin of the coin. Although only a few have survived the years, the tiny coin was equal to the British Half Penny of previous centuries.
There had been a great deal of attention given the identity of the woman appearing on the Juliana Island coins. Nobody knows for sure who she is. It seems an engraver around 140 to 150 years ago created the image. While several theories abound, there was a child born on the island given the name Juliana who grew up to become known for her work in education and a reputation for kindness, fairness and respect for all on the island. Many think this may be her image. She was said to be quite lovely. So, this unknown woman gracing Juliana Island coins has popularly been known to be the iconic Juliana representing all the ‘good’ qualities of the people of Juliana Island. Her identity will likely be mired in mystery.
The Government eventually changed the denomination to the “Reis” (setting the Smith coins at 10 Reis), the currency in use during the Juliana Republic days but at local values. Although the typical conversion for the Brazilian Reis during the original Juliana Republic days was about 40 Reis to the gram of silver. Locally, the official exchange was is around 22.5 Reis to the gram of silver.
The 2012 Juliana Island 150 Reis is a very rare and lovely .999 silver klippe brakteat. It seems that during production, a few odd weights became mixed with the mintage. Thus, the official weight is 6.66 grams but we know of 10 coins at 4.1 grams, 9 at 6.4 grams and 7 at 7.4 grams. These off weights are quite rare and highly sought after.
A blue anodized titanium version was reportedly made but we have not seen this version. The blue coin is not for standard circulation but traditionally used as a special gift coin. There are many uses for the coin. Generally it is to signify an act of kindness and to offer one’s blessings, say for a wedding, to give upon the birth of a child, to solidify a business deal and to offer to someone you are attracted to. There are additional uses for this coin. This beautiful tradition offers recognition for the good in society. These blue coins are cherished heirlooms that a person collects and keeps through life. Naturally, offering one from your box of coins is a substantial and meaningful gesture not to be taken lightly.
With silver and gold markets affecting exports and wages so directly, Juliana Island has opted to begin minting currency to be sold off the island to collectors. A series of coins shall be issued periodically, perhaps annually. While precise specifics are forthcoming, we are assured the numbers shall be substantial for such a small state, yet minimal when compared to other nations. We think this will aid in creating a good market for Juliana coins.
Compiled by Bill Turner for www.bluewatersmint.com 2010-2012