Pereira de Melo, António Maria Fontes

(1819-1887)
   Major 19th-century political leader, engineer, and mastermind of the Regeneration era (1851-80). Trained in the armed forces as an engineer, Fontes Pereira de Melo participated in the suppression of the Maria da Fonte uprising by Saldanha's forces and, in 1851, was called to Lisbon to assume various key posts in several ministries (Navy and Overseas; Treasury; Public Works; Commerce and Industry). In 1858, he assumed leadership of the Regenerador Party and was instrumental in directing and guiding the economic and industrial process known as the Regeneration after 1851. He became prime minister, too, and received many honors and much recognition.
   Realizing that Portugal lagged in economic development and industrialization, he initiated a program of building the necessary transportation infrastructure. During this era, Portugal acquired a basic network of railroads and roads and the beginnings of industrialization and participation in various export markets with Portuguese products and resources. Fontes Pereira de Melo's programs marked the onset of modern economic development in Portugal and represented the apogee of political stability and financial accomplishment during the constitutional monarchy.

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

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