|Manuel Teixeira Gomes
Statesman, diplomat and writer
Manuel Teixeira Gomes was born on 27 May 1860, in Portimão. He was the son of José Libânio Gomes, a wealthy businessman who exported dried fruits and was also the consul of Belgium in Algarve, and of Maria da Glória Teixeira Gomes.
His childhood was spent in Portimão where he attended primary school at the Colégio de S. Luís Gonzaga. At the age of ten, he moved to Coimbra to pursue his studies at the Diocesan Seminar, where he met José Relvas.
Five years later, he enrolled in the preparatory courses at the Faculty of Medicine to pursue the career his father had wanted for him, and was a fellow colleague of Eduardo Abreu and Eduardo Burnay. At the age of seventeen, however, he abandoned the course against his family's wishes, and moved to Lisbon, the bohemian and literary life of which seduced him greatly.
After serving in the military, he settled in Porto in 1881.
In 1881, he attended the Porto Polytechnic Academy (1831-1832), where he socialized with intellectuals and artists such as Soares dos Reis, Marques de Oliveira and Basílio Teles and founded, along with Joaquim Coimbra and Queirós Veloso, the theatre newspaper Gil Vicente. He then collaborated with several periodical publications, such as "O Primeiro de Janeiro" and "Folha Nova".
In 1885 and 1886, he visited Algiers and Italy, respectively.
In 1890, he came to terms with his family again and returned to Portimão to work on the family business, being responsible for researching foreign markets. He visited several countries such as France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, the north of Africa and the Middle-East.
He occasionally visited Porto and Lisbon and contacted with the artistic and literary circles in both cities.
From 1899 on, he lived with Belmira das Neves, the daughter of fishermen, with whom he had two daughters.
At the turn of the century, he published Inventário de Junho, in 1900, Cartas sem Moral Nenhuma, in 1903, Agosto Azul, in 1904, Sabina Freire, in 1905, Gente Singular, in 1909, etc.
While living in Portimão, further to his business activity he continued to write and became involved with the local Republican activities, taking part in meetings and rallies, and collaborating with A Lucta, a Republican periodical.
With the establishment of the Republic in 1910, he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Portugal in London during the 1st Interim Government, replacing the Marquis of Soveral, thus becoming the first representative of the republic in London.
As a diplomat, he played a major role in the Anglo-German negotiations regarding the issue of the Portuguese colonies, and in the cooperation with Portuguese governments during the First World War. He made many enemies because he defended the idea that Portugal should go into war, and consequently, resigned from the post. However, he was only sent back to Portugal in 1918 by the dictator Sidónio Pais, who ordered his imprisonment for a month in the Avenida Palace Hotel.
In 1919, José Relvas, the head of the new Republican government, appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary in Madrid and the representative of the new Portuguese delegation to the Peace Conference in Paris. He was transferred to London in April of that same year, and in August he was short-listed as a candidate to the Presidency of the Republic. However, the choice fell on José de Almeida.
In 1922, he was nominated a delegate of Portugal to the Society of Nations, and became one of the Vice-Presidents of this organization.
On 6 August 1923 he was elected President of the Republic, beating his main opponent, Bernardino Machado, of the Nationalist Party. He took up office on 5 October.
During his mandate, he had to face political instabilities and the split of the party. He became very disappointed with politics and renounced to the Presidency on 10 December 1925, alleging health reasons. Two days later he returned to his home in Gibalta, in Cruz Quebrada, and a week later headed to the north of Africa.
He travelled across France, Italy, Holland, Morocco, Algeria and Tunis for about six months, and settled in Bougie (now Bejaia), in Algeria, in 1931. Here, he wrote literary works such as Cartas a Columbano [Letters to Columbano](1932) and Novelas Eróticas [Erotic Novels](1935).
Between 2 and 4 February 1939, the interviews given by Teixeira Gomes to Norberto Lopes in his Algerian "retreat" revealed the life and thought of this statesman to the Portuguese public.
He died on 18 October 1941, at the Hotel l'Étoile, room 13, and was buried in the Christian cemetery of Bougie, in the Berg family vault, the owners of that hotel. His family requested that his remains be transferred to Portimão in 1950, and they were carried on the destroyer Dão. His funeral in Portugal was marked by a great Republic demonstration of solidarity.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)