Vicente Jorge Dias Cabral: a naturalist in the captaincy of Maranhão and Piauí
Abstract From late 1799 to early 1803, Vicente Jorge Dias Cabral led a scientific expedition that traversed 16 parishes and 956 leagues through the captaincy of Maranhão and Piauí. Cabral was born in the captaincy of Minas Gerais and studied at the University of Coimbra; in 1789, he graduated in philosophy and, five years later, he graduated from the Faculty of Law. Scientific expeditions, which had been common since the time of the minister Martinho de Mello e Castro (1770-1795), intensified with the appointment of D. Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho as Secretary of the Navy and Overseas (1795). New and old interests included extraction of saltpeter, introduction of new agricultural products such as cochineal, quinine, and indigo, and an inventory of water resources and channels capable of connecting the captaincies. Vicente Cabral’s expedition produced a variety of records and prepared him to compete for positions in the Portuguese bureaucracy. This article explores Vicente Cabral’s scientific expedition and the possibilities opened to him through appointments that subsequently allowed him to join the ranks of the learned who occupied these positions.