The Revolt of the Whip, was a 1910 naval mutiny that occurred in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. Due to its dimension, the event has been called "Brazil's Potemkin incident".
The mostly black crews of four Brazilian warships, led by Joao Candido Felisberto,
mutinied, deposed their white officers, and threatened to bombard Rio de Janeiro.
The mutiny was resolved within a week.
Soon after the arrival of Minas Geraes in Brazil, the country's prosperity began to
wane, and a severe depression hit the Brazilian economy.
The economic hardship, the racism prevalent in all branches of the Brazilian armed
forces, and the severe discipline enforced on all navy ships spawned a mutiny
known as the "Revolt of the Whip" among sailors on the most powerful ships.
Many of the black sailors on the dreadnought Minas Geraes were slaves freed
under the Lei ?rea or their sons.
Forced to enter the navy, they were widely discriminated against. It was common
for officers to target black crewmen with "racial abuse and physical violence"; the
sailors could not escape this abuse because they were required to serve for 15
Officers were quick to administer punishment with "leather whips tipped with metal
balls" for even minor infractions. Unhappy with the treatment, black sailors began
planning an uprising early in 1910, and chose Joao Candido Felisberto?n
experienced sailor later known as the "Black Admiral"?s leader.
In mid-November, a sailor was sentenced to be flogged 250 times in front of his
fellow sailors, even though the practice had been banned by law.
The punishment continued even after the sailor fainted. The incident infuriated the
nascent mutineers; they were not ready and could not revolt immediately, but they
quickened their preparations and rebelled earlier than originally planned, on 21 or
They murdered several officers and the captain; other officers were
forced off the ship. British engineers who had sailed with the ship since its
completion were kept as hostages.
The mutineers then spread the revolt to Sao Paulo, the older coastal defense ship
Deodoro, and the new cruiser Bahia. During this time, discipline on the rebelling
ships was not relaxed; daily drills were conducted and Felisberto ordered all liquor
to be thrown overboard.
'Minas Geraes' gun trials before the revolt
The crews of the torpedo boats remained loyal to the government, and army troops
moved to the presidential palace and the coastline,
but neither group could stop the mutineers a major problem for the authorities was
that many of the men who manned Rio de Janeiro's harbor defenses were
sympathetic to the mutineers' cause.
The additional possibility of the capital being bombarded forced the National
Congress of Brazil to give in to the rebels' demands. The demands included the
abolition of flogging, improved living conditions, and the granting of amnesty to all
mutineers. The government also issued official pardons and a statement of regret.
Its submission resulted in the rebellion's end on 26 November, when control of the
four ships was handed back to the navy.
However, the government passed a decree on 28 November that allowed the
Minister of the Navy to expel any sailor who was "undermining discipline"; this act
was seen by many sailors as a removal of their previous amnesty.
Many were jailed and tortured.
Joao Candido himself was held at Hospital de Alienados (hospital for the insane)
Two weeks after the conclusion of the Revolt of the Whip, the marine garrison of the
naval base of Ilha das Cobras also mutinied, but it was quickly put down.
Thirty-nine years after his death from cancer in Hospital Getulio Vargas, Rio de
Janeiro, Joao Candido and others were given the amnesty that had been promised
and then denied when on 24 July 2008 the Congress reaffirmed the 25 November
1910 legislative act granting amnesty
The revolt was cited later by labor organizers as an "heroic example of worker
A statue of Joao Candido Felisberto was erected overlooking the Ilha das Cobras
(island of snakes) in Rio de Janeiro