Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes (August 16, 1746–-April 21, 1792,was a leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement known as the Inconfidência Mineira whose aim was full independence from the Portuguese colonial power and to create a Brazilian republic. When the plan was discovered, Tiradentes was arrested, tried and publicly hanged. Since the 19th century he has been considered a national hero of Brazil and patron of the Polícia Militar de Minas Gerais (Minas Gerais Military Police).
The plan of Tiradentes was, in a day of derrama (when the sentiment of revolt among Brazilians would be stronger), to take the streets of Vila Rica and proclaim the Brazilian Republic. The movement, however, was denounced to the governor, who canceled the derrama scheduled for February 1789 and ordered the imprisonment of the rebels. The person who denounced the movement was Joaquim Silverio dos Reis; he was a participant of the movement, and betrayed the group in exchange for waiving of his due taxes.
Tiradentes fled to Rio, where he tried to reorganize the movement. Not knowing who had denounced the group, he went to meet Joaquim Silverio dos Reis in Rio; Tiradentes was arrested on May 10, 1789. The trial lasted almost three years. Tiradentes assumed the entire responsibility for the movement. Ten members of the group were sentenced to death; all of them – except Tiradentes – had their sentences, by mercy of the Queen, commuted from death to degradation.
On April 21, 1792 (today the date of a national holiday in Brazil), Tiradentes was hanged in Rio de Janeiro, in the plaza today named Praça Tiradentes. His body was quartered into several pieces. With his blood, a document was written declaring his memory infamous. His head was publicly displayed in Vila Rica and pieces of his body were exhibited in the cities between Vila Rica and Rio to terrorize the populace and those who had sympathized with Tiradentes’ ideas of independence.