Norton de Matos, José

(1867-1955)
   One of Portugal's most important and influential colonial administrators of the 20th-century African empire, a central figure in the management of Portugal's dispatch of an army to Flanders in World War I, and oppositionist candidate in the 1949 presidential elections. Trained as an army engineer, he attended Coimbra University and became a stalwart republican. During much of the 1890s, he served in Portuguese India, where he came under the influence of the style and policies of the British Raj. During the First Republic, he held a number of important posts in the empire and in Portugal: governor-general of Angola (1912-15), colonial minister (1915), and minister of war (1915-17), during which service he was instrumental in organizing the mobilization and dispatch of Portugal's Expeditionary Force (CEP) to the western front in 1917. Later, he served as high commissioner and governor-general of Angola (1921-24) and was named Portugal's minister to Great Britain (1924-26).
   Dismissed from his London post by the military dictatorship in 1926, Norton de Matos never held an official post again and, as he opposed both the military dictatorship and the Estado Novo, he found it difficult to practice his engineering profession while in retirement from the army. However, he remained important in post-1926 colonial policies and concepts, and attempted to put them into practice after 1945. In 1949, General Norton de Matos was the oppositionist candidate in the presidential elections and opposed the regime incumbent, Marshal Antônio Óscar Carmona. Using the law, police harassment, and other means, the Estado Novo persecuted Norton de Matos's followers and disrupted his campaign. Just before the rigged election was to be held, the aged general withdrew his candidacy, rightfully claiming fraud and intimidation. A tough if liberal reformist in colonial affairs, the senior colonial authority wrote his final book A Nação Una in 1953, calling for the regime to implement his basic reform ideas and to improve treatment of Africans in labor and race relations. Norton de Matos's prescient warnings about African policies were largely ignored, while Lisbon followed his key strategic and development concepts.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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