Most of us think that after the Civil War, the South simply accepted defeat and went on to become model citizens of the new America…the one without slavery. That was not the case, however. First of all, there were a number of plantation owners in the South, who just didn’t tell their slaves that they were free now. Finally, after being forced to do so, the announcement came, a whole two months after the effective conclusion of the Civil War, and even longer since Abraham Lincoln had first signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Nevertheless, even after that day, many enslaved black people in Texas still weren’t free. That part was bad enough, but that wasn’t all there was to it.

We have heard people say that if this or that president gets into office, they are leaving the country. People have also left the country because they didn’t want to fight is a war. However, I had never heard that approximately 20,000 Confederates decided to actually leave the country. They went to Brazil after the Civil War to create a kingdom built on slavery. These people were so set on their lifestyle that they were willing to pull up stakes and start over in order to keep their slaves and their slavery lifestyle. The reality was that after four bloody years of war, the Confederacy virtually crumbled in April 1865. Nevertheless, a rather large group of the Confederates were not ready to accept defeat.

Instead, as many as 20,000 of them fled south. They relocated to Brazil, where a slaveholding culture already existed. There, they hoped the country’s culture could help them preserve their traditions. Once there, they cooked Southern food, spoke English, and tried to buy enough slaves to resurrect the pre-Civil War plantation system. These people, known as Confederados, were enticed to Brazil by offers of cheap land from Emperor Dom Pedro II, who had hoped to gain expertise in cotton farming. Initially, most of these so-called Confederados settled in the current state of São Paulo, where they founded the city of Americana, which was once part of the neighboring city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste. The descendants of other Confederados would later be found throughout Brazil. They were very happy with their decision to leave the United States, and very happy that they could continue to keep slaves. Nevertheless, their “victory” was not without loss too. They had to give up their citizenship in the United States, and I have to wonder if their lives have turned out as they hoped they would, or if they are living in much poorer conditions in Brazil. Nevertheless, they stayed, and to this day, the so-called Confederados gather each year to fly the Confederate flag and celebrate their lost heritage.

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