Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FERREIRA, Alexandre Rodrignes (ferray'erah), Brazilian traveler, born in Bahia, Brazil, 27 April 1756 ; died in Lisbon, Portugal, 23 April 1815. He studied at Coimbra, where he became professor of natural history in 1770. In 1778 he was appointed by the Portuguese government to make researches into the geography and natural history of the region known under the general name of Amazonia. He went to Lisbon, where his instructions awaited him, but his departure was delayed five years, on account of various missions in which the government employed him. The Academy of sciences of Lisbon admitted him to membership on 22 March 1780. Having completed his preparations, Ferreira embarked at Lisbon, and landed at Santa Maria de Belem on 17 October 1783. He began his labors by the exploration of the Island of Marajo or Joannes, and returned to the mainland in 1784 to follow up the great tributaries of the Amazon. He subsequently penetrated into territories that had been completely unknown, and traversed the Sierra de Cuamuru, the MattoGrosso, the district of Cuyaba, and many other regions to which names had not been given on the imperfect maps of the time. He also made the Indian race a study from a physiological and ethnographical point of view. Discussions had arisen between the cabinets of Lisbon and Madrid concerning the boundary line of their respective possessions in South America, and Ferreira received orders to decide the question. He spent nine years from 1783 till 1792in his investigations, and, after reestablishing the original boundary, continued his labors, suffering the greatest hardships.
He returned to Belem in July 1792, and in March 1793, to Lisbon, where he was employed in the ministry of marine. He was named in 1796 administrator of the royal cabinet of natural history at Lisbon and of the botanical gardens attached to it, which he established. But he felt the confinement of this new mode of life, his health failed, and he died suddenly in 1815. The Portuguese government had spent large sums of money in designs and engravings for the works of Ferreira on the Amazons. His death put a stop to their publication, but during more than half a century ethnographical designs taken from his manuscripts continued to appear. Almost all the maps and several of the memoirs, prepared by Ferreira himself, are now lost. His manuscripts, deposited in the archives of the Academy of sciences of Lisbon, have been stolen. The published engravings and maps of his travels now form a part of the collection made by Dora Pedro II., emperor of Brazil. Ferreira is often called the " Brazilian Humboldt." His memoirs include " Descripcao da gruta do Inferno, feita em Cuyaba" ; " Propiedade e posse das terras do Cabo do Norte pe la CorSa de Portugal" memoria escripta no para em 1792"; and "Viagem a gruta das Ongas."
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