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Pedro II began to rule Brazil in 1840. Capable, liberal, and scholarly, he spent the first years dealing with rebellions, but by 1850 had established his authority throughout the country. Over the next 40 years agriculture, business, and industry expanded rapidly. With government encouragement railways were built, and coffee, sugar, and rubber production greatly increased. The population grew from about eight million in 1850 to over 14 million by 1889.

In 1854 Pedro sent a force to Uruguay to support the ruling party and increase Brazil's influence abroad. The War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) broke out when Paraguay attacked Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Brazilians to evacuate Uruguay. Many Paraguayan men were killed in the fighting.

Pedro abolished slavery over the years 1870-88. In the last years, his freeing of remaining slaves without compensation to owners turned landlords against him, and they finally forced him to abdicate. The monarchy was abolished, and in 1889 Brazil was proclaimed a republic. Pedro died in exile in 1891.

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