Confederates in Brazil

Here are some ideas if you can not find an ancestor who lived in the Southern States during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The southern states lost the war and the destruction of farmlands and towns, so many Southerners wanted a new start, they traveled to the western frontier territories and states. It is amazing where some moved to.

A good number of Southern Americans moved out of the country to Canada, Central American nations or to European countries. Yet, there was another overseas location that many selected to move to that people just did not know about. In the nation of Empire of Brazil in the 1860s, slavery was still legal (was not outlawed until 1888). The Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II offered American immigrants passage to Brazil, cheap land (22 cents an acre) and tax breaks, especially for growing cotton. This looked like a golden opportunity for those Southerners who had lost the land in America and really wanted a fresh start. The leaders of the Confederacy such as President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee, tried to discourage Southerners from making such a moved, instead wanted them to stay and rebuild the South, but many selected to leave.

The American immigrants settled in several different areas, mostly to the north of Sao Paulo. One of the first to arrive was the Colonel William H. Norris of Alabama, as well as a state senator, who also had some 30 Confederate families follow him to Brazil in December 1865, into 1866. Norris purchased 500 acres of rolling hills and soil that was reddish, similar to Alabama. Besides white Americans also came many newly freed black families to Brazil.

Without exact records, it was estimated that about 10,000 to 20,000 Americans came to Brazil between 1865 and 1885. Most were middle-class citizens with professions such as teachers, machinist, farmers and doctors. Most who returned were homesick. The number of how many returned to America years later is also unknown. Those who stayed also took on Brazilian citizenship. One town created of former Southerners was named ‘Americana’.

It was a good blend of the Southern culture with those natives of Brazil. The Americans knew good farming methods and introduced southern food dishes such as fried chicken, chess pie and vinegar pie. The established Baptist churches in Brazil.

Over the decades with a great deal of intermarriage, Portuguese became the common language spoken. Yet the Confederate flag is still proudly flown in those regions populated with the descendants of the American Confederates.

Check if you had an ancestor who moved either to the western USA, Central America or Brazil.

Photos: Brazil-Confederates; William Norris; Vila-Americana and 1800s slave auction in Brazil.

Related Blogs:

Service Records for Confederate Soldiers

Museum of the Confederacy

State Archives

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