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Bento de Jesus Caraça Biography

Bento de Jesus Caraça was born in Vila Viçosa on April 18th, 1901. His parents were peasants and worked in Herdade da Casa Branca, in Redondo.

As he showed great easiness in learning, the wife of the owner of the farm where his parents worked, decided to pay for his studies. Bento de Jesus Caraça kept on studying in Vila Viçosa. Then he went to Santarém and finally to Lisbon.

After finishing high school with top marks he enrolled on the Superior Institute of Economic and Financial Sciences. One year later and with only 18, Bento Jesus Caraça was nominated 2nd assistant by his teacher Mira Fernandes. He graduated in 1923 and in 1924 became 1st assistant. In 1927 he became professor and in 1929, cathedratic professor.

Bento de Jesus Caraça was not only an important teacher. He was also the responsible for the foundation of the Portuguese Popular University, an institution created to give working class people the chance of studying. He founded Gazeta da Matemática, the first Mathematics magazine in Portugal and Biblioteca Cosmos, a publisher which for more than 8 years focused the most significant cultural and scientific achievements of the century. He introduced methods of Econometrics in Portugal and published his most famous book in 1941 “Os Conceitos Fundamentais da Matemática”. He gave a famous conference entitled “A Cultura Integral do Indivíduo – Problema Central do Nosso Tempo” and participated in several magazines and newspapers, such as Seara Nova, Técnica, Vértice, O Diabo or even Jornal Globo.

He was a man of courage, spirit of sacrifice, exceptional merit and greatness on defending his ideas. He was not indifferent to the situation lived in Portugal and imposed by a brutal dictatorship. Having the culturalisation of the individual and the defence of major democratic values as his main values and objectives he became an enemy to the government. He was persecuted by the government’s police and imprisoned in the prison of Aljube, being expulsed from his university teaching post, in 1946.

After this he faced economic hardship and severe health problems. He died on June 25th 1948. Crowds of people, surveilled by the police of the government, accompanied his funeral in a deep silence, showing an immense respect for this great personality.