The United States Civil War has always fascinated me especially once I discovered the high price my maternal family paid in the conflict. Living in the borderland region of Tennessee and Kentucky, my family line suffered death as well as the exploits of renegades like Tinker Dave Beaty and Champ Ferguson and overall, a general breakdown in law and order.
Another part of the War that I find interesting are the stories that have, for the most part, been removed from the history of the conflict –like this one about Americana, Brazil.
Shortly after the War ended, as many as 20,000 Confederates left the United States and an estimated 5,000-10,000 headed to Brazil (which still practiced slavery) where they hoped to create a plantation system based on a life that had left behind in the South. For nearly the first 100 years, the descendant spoke only English (with a southern drawl) before becoming more assimilated into the Brazilian society.
Historians say theirs was the only political exodus of American citizens in the history of the United States, though it is rarely mentioned in history books. In the latter half of the 1800s, thousands of Americans from all over the South left their homes and families in search of new lives in Mexico, Cuba and Brazil.
The Confederate families that chose Brazil found cheap land and the opportunity to colonize. The South American country welcomed the families because Brazil hoped to establish itself as the leader in worldwide cotton production by capitalizing on American farming techniques.
In the case of the ones that landed near present day Americana, Brazil — they maintain a connection to the Confederate South even to this day — holding an annual festival to honor their heritage.