Charles Darwin’s infl uence stretches far beyond the frontiers of biology. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his theory of evolution by means of natural selection had expanded beyond Europe, controversially infl uencing disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and economics. In order to examine the reach of evolutionist ideas in this period, this essay focuses on Brazil, a former Portuguese colony whose international intellectual importance has only recently begun to gain recognition. Politically liberated between 1808 and 1822, Brazil gained independence as a constitutional monarchy. Peter I, the fi rst Brazilian emperor and heir to the previously reigning dynasty, showed no will to industrialize the fl edgling state; instead he maintained allegiance to an upper class dependent on the perpetuation of black slavery to supply the export plantation economy-a system that persisted into the 1880s.