Manuel Teixeira Gomes
Born on 27 May 1860 in Vila Nova de Portimão. Son of José Libânio Gomes and Maria da Glória Teixeira Gomes.
A wealthy landowner, his father was also a large-scale dried fruit trader, a much travelled man, who had been educated in France and witnessed the 1848 revolution, he had republican leanings and had been Belgian Consul in Algarve.
Teixeira Gomes married Belmira das Neves, of a modest fishing family and they had two daughters.
He died on 18 October 1941 in Bougie, Algeria.
Taught by his parents until he went to São Luís Gonzaga School in Portimão.
At the age of ten and as was customary in contemporary wealthy families he was sent to Coimbra Seminary, where he studied with José Relvas.
At the age of fifteen he enrolled at the Coimbra Faculty of Medicine but then, against his father’s wishes, gave it up and moved to Lisbon. Here, he attended the National Library and became friendly with João de Deus and Fialho de Almeida.
After completing his military service he moved to Oporto where he became friendly with Sampaio Bruno, Basílio Teles, Soares dos Reis and others. With Joaquim Coimbra and Queirós Veloso they publish Gil Vicente, a theatrical newspaper. He also wrote for Primeiro de Janeiro and Folha Nova.
Tired of dissipation he returned to Portimão and became reconciled with his family.
Meanwhile, in 1891, his father and other partners had set up a company called "Sindicato de Exportadores de Figos do Algarve" (Algarve Fig Exporters Union), which lasted three years. Manuel was told to find markets in France, Belgium and Holland. He travelled extensively, toured Europe and lingered in Italy. He extended his cultural horizon by wandering through North Africa and Asia Minor.
The company was closed but father and son continued the business on their own. Soon their success meant that they had to enlarge their market to new areas that were familiar to them, North Africa and the Near East, but meant that Manuel had to travel nine months of the year, returning to Portugal only during the fig picking season.
After 1895 he established new contacts with the literary circles of Lisbon. Through Fialho de Almeida he met Marcelino Mesquita, Gomes Leal and others. Alfredo Mesquita, Luís Osório and António Nobre encouraged him to publish his first book, O Inventário de Junho, which came out in 1899.
Calmer now, and with more time, as his father’s advanced age forced him to spend longer periods in Portimão, he published Cartas sem Moral Nenhuma e Agosto Azul, in 1904, Sabrina Freire in 1905, Desenhos e Anedotas de João de Deus in 1907 and Gente Singular in 1909.
A democrat and a republican from an early age, he worked closely with the daily newspaper A Luta, belonging to his personal friend Brito Camacho.
Following the implantation of the republic he was invited to be Portuguese Minister in London. In April 1911 he travelled to England and presented his credentials to King George V on 11 October.
The fact that he was replacing the Marquis de Soveral and also that the Portuguese royal family lived in England did not augur well for the start of his career but through appropriate diplomatic action Teixeira Gomes won the trust and friendship of the British authorities.
One should highlight his actions concerning the problems of the Anglo-German negotiations on the division of the Portuguese colonies and his collaboration with the Portuguese governments with regard to Portugal joining the war at the request of Great Britain. This collaboration made him hated by the anti-war faction, one such being Brito Camacho, and he was sacked during the time of Sidónio Pais.
In 1919, following Sidónio’s death, he was Portuguese Minister in Madrid but was soon reinstated in London.
In 1922 he was appointed Portuguese delegate to the Society of Nations, and also became vice-president.
On 6 August 1923 he was elected President of the Republic and takes office on 5 October.
ELECTIONS AND PRESIDENTIAL PERIOD
Manuel Teixeira Gomes was elected President of the Republic at the session of Congress of 6 August 1923, following a hardly fought battle in which the final result was only known after the third ballot.
During the first ballot with 197 congressmen, the following results were obtained:
Teixeira Gomes 108 votes
Bernardino Machado 73 votes
Duarte Leite 3 votes
Augusto Soares 2 votes
Magalhães Lima 1 vote
Blank votes 10
In the second ballot with the same 197 congressmen, the result was as follows:
Teixeira Gomes 114 votes
Bernardino Machado 71 votes
Augusto Soares 2 votes
Duarte Leite 1 vote
Blank votes 9
As none of the candidates had obtained the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution, there was a third ballot with 195 congressmen, 121 of which voted for Teixeira Gomes, only 5 for Bernardino Machado and 68 cast blank votes.
The new President of the Republic took office on 6 October of that year, having sworn fidelity to the Constitution before Congress.
Initially, and in order to become acquainted with the problems, he asked António Maria da Silva to remain in the Government but invited Afonso Costa at the same time. When the latter finally declined, the dance of the governments began.
Ginestal Machado’s government lasted one month and three days, that of Álvaro de Castro six months and nineteen days, that of Alfredo Rodrigues Gaspar four months and eleven days and fell on 22 November 1924 and creating a general crisis that only ended with the fall of the I Republic. The two months and twenty-three days of José Domingos dos Santos, the four and a half months of Vitorino Guimarães, the thirty-one days of António Maria da Silva and the four and a half months of Domingos Pereira only served to confirm the existing climate of disturbance.
Faced with political, social and military upheavals, strikes and attempts at takeover such as the military events of 18 April 1925, Teixeira Gomes, feeling that on the one hand the republican forces were increasingly isolated and on the other that he had insufficient powers to intervene within the framework of the Constitution, resigned on 11 December 1925.
On 17 December he left on the Greek packet boat Zeus, and did not return to Portugal during his lifetime.
In 1931 he settled in Bougie in Algeria, where he lived the last ten years of his life. From here he continued to write for the newspaper O Diabo and the magazine Seara Nova.
He died, as mentioned, on 18 October 1941 in Room 13 of the Hotel I'Étoile and was buried in Bougie Cemetery.
At the request of his family, his remains were taken on 16 October 1950 from there to Portimão cemetery on board the destroyer Dão.
During the ceremony the former President of the Republic was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of the three Portuguese Military Orders, the Legion of Honour and the highest British decorations.
In addition to the works already cited, mention must be made of those produced in his Algerian retreat: Cartas a Columbano, 1932, Novelas Eróticas e Regressos, 1935, Miscelânea, 1937, and lastly Mana Adelaide e Carnaval Literário, 1938. They are an excellent reflection of the author’s thirst for justice and his desire to do good. They also express his love for sensuality and his acknowledgement that each human being has the right to a life lived to the full, in short describing his great humanism and aestheticism.