Sunday, June 10, 2012

The South Has Risen Again...Sorta

"The South Will Rise Again!" was the slogan used after the Civil War by pro-Confederate supporters, but what if the south never really fell? What if, after the Civil War, some Confederates continued on? No, I am not talking about Black Codes, Jim Crow, or segregation. I am referring to the Rebels living and still flying the stars and bars. You must think I am talking about some back woods land that time forgot down in Mississippi, but that is not so. The Civil War may have ended in 1865 but the Confederacy lived on and in all places, Brazil.

A few things that come to mind when people think of Brazil are: soccer, the Amazon, favelas, Christ the Redeemer, a beautiful coast line, and supermodels. The last thing that comes to mind is the Confederate States of America, but after reading this it will be right up there with Gisele Bundchen. But first, why and how would the Confederacy continue in Brazil? The reasons involve cotton, angry Rebels, and the Emperor of Brazil. The Confederates may have lost their way of life in America, but they were offered a second chance to keep Dixie alive in Brazil.

The last shot of the American Civil War was fired on June 22, 1865 by the CSS Shenandoah and the war was over. It was now time for the North and South to patch the country back together and move beyond the horrors of the Civil War. However, some former Confederates were not to happy with those damn Yankees coming down to Dixieland. Those disgruntled citizens moved further west into the American West but others had a different plan. They chose to head further south, as in South America. The main destination choice for these folks was Brazil and no, it was not for the beautiful beaches or scantily clad women either. Rather, these people went to Brazil because they saw it as a place they could preserve their way of life and culture.

Enter Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil. The Emperor was looking to expand Brazil's economy and he saw how cotton was in high demand. He offered former Confederates, land, low taxes and subsidies on cotton crops. The Emperor targeted southerners who had lost everything during the war and those who refused to live under the rule of the North. Slavery was still legal but this was not a factor for these Confederates. Some historians have found that the first Confederates to settle in Brazil only had about 66 slaves as they were the poorer of Confederate society. It is also estimated that somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand Confederates immigrated to Brazil from 1865-1885.  It is quite evident that Brazil's legalization of slavery had nothing to do with the migration, but was the chance to preserve southern culture and move up the economic ladder.

The first settlement of the "Confederados", as they became known as, was in Americana, Sao Paulo. Yet the Confederados did not all settle in one place. They established settlements across Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Santarem, Parane, and the areas around Sao Paulo. The first recorded Confederado was Colonel William H. Norris from Alabama (whose home is pictured above). The area around his home was known as the Norris Colony. With the Confederado colonies established, the Rebels got right to work. The immigrants were seen as a great influence on Brazil. They were known for being working hard and as honest businessmen. They also brought with them modern American technology and agricultural techniques. They grew cotton, watermelon, pecans and other southern crops. They shared their knowledge of farming with the local Brazilians. But farming wasn't the only thing the Confederados imported to Brazil as they also kept their cultural practices. The Confederado colonies were known to establish Baptist Churches, continued to use tradition dishes and practiced the culture of Dixie. The one main difference was that those who did have slaves educated them and other black freedmen in local schools, which was much different to their counterparts that remained in America.

No, this is not a tailgate party outside a county fair in Georgia, but is in in Brazil at the "Festa Confederada". As in the case of any and all immigrants, it is only time before there is mixture into the general population. The original settlers stuck mainly to themselves, the second generations intermarried with each other and as the third generation came along they intermarried with Brazilians. Today, only a handful of Confederdo descendents live on their families original land, most spread throughout Brazil. The Confederado descendents still connect to their history through the Associação Descendência Americana. The ADA, links past with present in order to preserve this unique piece of history. They also hold the annual  Festa Confederada which is a celebration of Confederate culture in Brazil. During the festa the stars and bars are proudly flown, people dress in tradition southern clothes (Confederate uniforms for the men and hoop skirts for the ladies) and antebellum period music is preformed and danced to all with the influence of Brazilian culture as well.

The Confederados today are also linked to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Some travel to America to see Civil War sites and the areas in which their ancestors come from. But does these mean we have to worry about The South actually rising again? Do we now have to fear this super breed of Confederate/Brazilian people coming to take down the Union? Probably not. I  think the Confederados and their pride in the history is a good thing. Sure its easy for some to say, "I am a proud American because my grandfather fought in WWII" or "yeah, I am a proud Englishman because my granddad was in WWI" or whatever people say that they're proud of their ancestry for. Here in the states we remember the horrors of the Civil War and of the institution of slavery which is why we demonize the Confederate flag and everything else linked to the Confederate States of America. But in Brazil, the Confederadoes remember their ancestors as hard working, honest and family focused people. They see their past free from history and take pride in their origins. It is important to remember between 10 and 20 thousand Confederates went to Brazil and all took 60 some odd slaves. It is even more important to remember that wars are not by those who start them but by average people who feel the need to defend their way of life, culture or what have you. In every war there is always a loser and that losing side has to carry a burden for the rest of history, but in Brazil, in the Confederados, they have no reason to be ashamed of their history.

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