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The Last Confederate Stand Down South, Way Down South – in Brazil
You may have heard the overly optimistic phrase from the Deep South, “The South will rise again.” There is no doubt about the fact that the South fell with the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War. But some of the Confederates did not surrender and were not defeated, and in fact they never fell. Instead they redistributed in Brazil.
In the waning days of the Civil War, a good number of Confederates sought to move overseas. The two most favored countries for relocation were Mexico and Brazil. Brazil actively encouraged Confederate immigration before the end of the war with offers of financial assistance in transportation, land ownership, and settlement to come and establish new homes in a country that needed their skill
After the defeat of the South, much of the culture of the Confederacy was swept away during “Reconstruction.” Those who stayed in the South were forced to assimilate in the USA. Those who fled to Brazil were not forced to assimilate in Brazil and even to this day maintain the traditions and culture of the Old South.
Some southerners were fervently opposed to the idea of leaving the South. Among those who dissented was Robert E. Lee. Despite the protests of Robert E. Lee, there was an exodus from the South near the end of the Civil War and it decreased during the Reconstruction Period.
Several confederate settlements appeared in Brazil in the 1860s. There was the Gaston colony in Xiririca near Iguape, the Norris colony in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, “Lizzieland” on the Rio Doce at Linhares, the Hastings settlement on the Amazon River in Santarem, and other lesser-known confederate settlements throughout Brazil. The Norris colony became the largest and most successful of all.
These new settlers were the cream of the crop from the Old South. Among them were probably the best cotton experts in the world at that time. His superior skills and knowledge of cotton paid off. Transplanted Confederates were largely responsible for the sudden increase in cotton production in Brazil. They brought wealth and prosperity to the regions where they settled.
These settlers did not want to assimilate into the Brazilian culture. Many of the first generation refused to even try to learn the language. They hired teachers from the United States to teach their children. They tried to change Brazil to suit them, and they partially succeeded in that effort. His educational methods were so effective that they were eventually adopted by the official Brazilian system.
In 1875, an important boost came to the area near the Norris colony with the opening of a train station, which allowed the easier transport of cotton to the markets. In 1878, an association of Brazilian and American entrepreneurs started a cotton fabric factory near the train station. This cotton cloth factory became known as “American Village”. It became bigger and more prosperous and is today the city of Americana, the name means “American” in Portuguese. Americana is now a modern Brazilian city of about 150,000 in the State of Sao Paulo, about 83 kilometers from the state capital. Textiles are still the biggest industry in the city today.
Today, the descendants of the Confederate immigrants are scattered in Brazil, but they have gathered in a brotherhood, Fraternidade Descendencia Americana, which meets periodically. They have done a good job of maintaining the culture and traditions of the deep South. Young Brazilians, some of them descendants of American settlers, still practice period dances to prepare for an annual celebration of Confederate heritage in Americana, Brazil. Their costumes look like they came straight off the set of “Gone with the Wind.” The Confederate battle flag “Stars and Bars” was removed from the crest of the American city in 1999. Today in America it is considered very prestigious to be descended from the Confederate settlers. Some even proudly boast of the fact that their ancestors never learned to speak Portuguese. In fact, there are plenty of hold-outs in Americana who even speak English as their first language today. In a strange twist, English has become a chic second language for some of the wealthiest and most educated Brazilians.
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