Francisco Paulo de Almeida (1826-1901)

Francisco Paulo de Almeida
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Francisco Paulo de Almeida, first and only Baron of Guaraciaba, was a Brazilian landowner and banker. He distinguished himself by being one of the most financially successful black men in the Empire of Brazil. He owned several plantations and about two hundred slaves on just one of them. He also owned a fortune estimated at seven hundred thousand contos de réis at the time. He was the owner of the Yellow Palace in the city of Petrópolis.

Francisco Paulo de Almeida was born on January 10, 1826 and he was the son of António José de Almeida and his first wife, Galdina Alberta do Espírito Santo.. He began life as a goldsmith and specialised in making collar buttons. He was a talented violinist and earned his money by performing at funerals. Later he became a tropeiro (restaurant owner) and in 1860 he bought his first farm in Arraial de São Sebastião do Rio Bonito.

He concentrated his coffee business in Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro in the Paraíba Valley. He owned several coffee farms, including Fazenda Veneza in Conservatória (now part of Valença), which later belonged to Lily Marinho, and Fazenda do Pocinho (which belonged to the Almeida e Souza family), located between the towns of Barra do Piraí and Vassouras.

Almeida was one of the founding partners of the Banco Territorial de Minas Gerais and the Banco de Crédito Real de Minas Gerais. When he received the title of noble baron by Princess Isabel in 1887, he was the first black baron of the kingdom, known for his charity in favour of the Santas Casas.

After the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, he acquired the Yellow Palace, now the seat of the legislature of the city of Petrópolis and was harassed by the legislature until he sold his property. He was married to Brasília de Almeida from 1844 to 1889 and had eleven children: Mathilde, Adelaide, Cristina, Adelina, Seberlina, Paulo, Artur, Mário, Francisco, Raul, and Paulo de Almeida Guaraciaba. His sons were sent to to study in France. After his death on February 9, 1901 at the age of 75, they returned to Brazil and some took Guaraciaba as their surname.