The Last Confederate Stand Down South, Way Down South – in Brazil
You may have heard the overly optimistic catchphrase from the thorough South, “The South shall 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 never fell. Instead they redeployed to Brazil.
In the waning days of the Civil War a good number of Confederates sought to move overseas. The two countries most favored for relocation were Mexico and Brazil. Brazil actively promoted 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 the “Reconstruction.” Those who stayed in the South were forced to assimilate into the USA. Those who fled to Brazil were not forced to assimilate into Brazil and nevertheless to this day keep the traditions and culture of the Old South alive.
Some Southerners were fervently opposed to the idea of leaving the South. Among those dissenting was Robert E. Lee. in spite of of Robert E. Lee’s protests, there was an exodus from the South near the end of the Civil War and tapering off during the Reconstruction Period.
Several Confederate settlements abruptly arose in Brazil in the 1860’s. There was Gaston’s colony at Xiririca near Iguape, The Norris colony at Santa Barbara D’Oeste, “Lizzieland” on the Rio Doce at Linhares, the Hastings settlement on the Amazon River at Santarem, and other lesser known Confederate settlements throughout Brazil. The Norris colony became the biggest and most successful of them 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. Their superior skills and knowledge of cotton paid off. The transplanted Confederates were largely responsible for the sudden rise in the production of cotton in Brazil. They brought wealth and wealth to the regions they settled in.
These settlers did not want to assimilate into the Brazilian culture. Many of the first generation refused to already try to learn the language. They hired teachers from the USA to teach their children. They attempted to change Brazil to suit them, and were slightly successful in that effort. Their educational methods were so efficient that ultimately they were adopted by the official Brazilian system.
In 1875, an important raise came to the area near the Norris colony with the opening of a aim stop, which permitted easier transportation of the cotton to the markets. In 1878, an association of Brazilian and American entrepreneurs started up a cotton fabric factory near the aim stop. This cotton fabric factory became known as the “American Village.” It became larger and more thriving and is now the city of Americana, the name method “American” in Portuguese. Americana is now a modern Brazilian city of about 150,000 in the State of Sao Paulo, about 83 miles from the state capital. Textiles are nevertheless the biggest industry in the city today.
Today the descendants of Confederate immigrants are distributed throughout Brazil but have banded together into a brotherhood, Fraternidade Descendencia Americana, which meets regularly. They have done a good job of retaining the culture and traditions of the thorough South. Brazilian youths, some of them descendants of American settlers, nevertheless practice period dances to prepare for an annual celebration of Confederate heritage in Americana, Brazil. Their costumes look like they came straight from the set of “Gone with the Wind.” The “Stars and Bars” Confederate battle flag was removed from the Americana city crest in 1999. Nowadays in Americana it is considered highly prestigious to have descended from Confederate settlers. Some people there nevertheless proudly boast of the fact that their ancestors never learned to speak Portuguese. In fact, there are a handful of keep up-outs in Americana who nevertheless speak English as their first language today. In a strange twist, English is now becoming a chic second language for some of the more affluent and well-educated Brazilians.