José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (June 13, 1763 – April 6, 1838), Brazilian statesman, naturalist and professor, was born in Santos, São Paulo, then a territory of the Portuguese Empire. He discovered and described four minerals, including most importantly petalite, in which the element lithium was later first discovered.
In 1800 he was appointed professor of geology at Coimbra, and soon after inspector-general of the Portuguese mines; and in 1812 he was made perpetual secretary of the Sciences Academy of Lisbon (Academia das Ciências de Lisboa). Returning to Brazil in 1819, he urged Dom Pedro I to resist the recall of the Lisbon court, and was appointed one of his ministers in 1821. When the independence of Brazil was declared, Andrade was made minister of the interior and of foreign affairs; and when it was established, he was again elected by the Constituent Assembly, but his democratic principles resulted in his dismissal from office, July 1823.
On the dissolution of the Assembly in November, he was arrested and banished to France, where he lived in exile near Bordeaux till, in 1829, he was permitted to return to Brazil. But being again arrested in 1833, and tried for intriguing on behalf of Dom Pedro I, he passed the rest of his days in retirement at Niterói.
José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva was an important figure in the Brazilian intellectual circles, participating actively in the movement towards the independence of Brazil as D. Pedro l's counselor. This office gave him the cognomen of "Patriarca da Independência" (Patriarch of the Independence). He was also the author of the abolition project in Brazil presented to the Constituent Assembly in 1823. José Bonifácio spent part of his life in Europe. Graduated in Law and Natural Philosophy in Coimbra, he joined the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (Science Academy of Lisbon).
In his trips around Europe he studied chemistry and mineralogy with other scientists. He collected data, made scientific experiences and discovered 4 new minerals and 8 types of unknown species. The mineral andradite is named after him. Among his other discoveries was Petalite, a lithium-containing material, first discovered by Andrada toward the end of the 1700s on a trip to Sweden, and it was in this mineral Swedish chemists first discovered lithium. He also was the first to discover another important lithium-containing mineral spodumene from the same source, an island near Stockholm.
In 1819, he travelled back to Brazil where he continued to conduct scientific research. A talented man having an unquiet temperament was also headed towards politics and participated actively in the activities concerning the independence of Brazil. He was appointed to be the head of the Ministry for Kingdom and Overseas Affairs.
His relationship with the prince became incompatible and he decided to join the opposition. In 1823 he was exiled and went to live in Bordeaux where, in 1825, come out his "Poesias Avulsas" (Sundry Poetries). To publish them he used the pseudonym Américo Elísio. José Bonifácio came back to Brazil in 1829. In 1831 when Dom Pedro I abdicated from the throne, he was appointed by the former Emperor to be the tutor of the Emperor's sons. Since he did not agree with the confused Regent's government he tried to reestablish the Empire. In 1833 he lost his duties of tutor and was accused of being a traitor, but he was eventually pardoned. He died on April 6, 1838 in Niterói.
José Bonifácio had also been engaged in Literature. His work Poesias Avulsas that come out in Bordeaux were republished in Brazil, in 1861, by the publisher Laemmert. In Brazil it received the title "Poesias" (Poetries) and the publication had the coordination of Joaquim Norberto de Sousa. In 1942 Afrânio Peixoto prepared another issue through the Brazilian Academy of Letters. This work, prefaced with a text by Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, was also published in a collection, as Volume I, idealized by the "Instituto Nacional do Livro" (The National Book Institute), appearing in 1946 with the title Poesias de Américo Elísio [Américo Elísio's Poetry]. His poetry shows a naturalistic pantheism that expresses his intellectual character and scientific curiosity.
His Scientific, Political and Social works are published in Volume III, compiled and reproduced by Edgar Cerqueira Falcão with the title Obras científicas, politicas e sociais de José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva. Its third edition came out in 1963 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Patriarch of the Independence. José Bonifácio is the Patron of the 40th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.