Confederados: The Confederate Loyalists Who Fled To Brazil After The Civil War

By | July 7, 2020

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(Unknown photographer/Wikimedia Commons)

After the Civil War, Southerners who couldn't stand to live in a world without slavery slipped away from the United States and—just as the Nazis would do in the final days of World War II—fled to Brazil. It wasn't just a handful Confederate soldiers who left the United States forever: Their numbers were somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000. Known as the Confederados, some of these men returned to the States following the Reconstruction, but many of them stayed in South America to build a life and a haven for some of the worst people in existence.

Going South

Fearing recrimination for fighting alongside the Confederate Army during the Civil War, many Southerners left the South in 1865. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee pleaded with Southerners to stay put, but many of them refused to stick around and see how things worked out in ashes of the Civil War, so a mass immigration was soon underway. Some of them fled west to the western territories, but many former Confederates just went even souther. They couldn't imagine a world where a land owner wasn't also allowed to own people, and slavery was still legal in Brazil, so it seemed like a natural fit.

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(History Channel)

Why Brazil?

Of course, there were plenty of countries where slavery was still legal in 1865, but Brazil wasn't just chosen at random. At the time, Brazil's cotton industry was just beginning to pick up steam, so Emperor Dom Pedro II offered tax incentives to anyone from the American South, known for its cotton plantations, who wanted a change of scenery. Eager to jump back into the fluffy white fray, Southern expats who had lost their land accepted the invitation by the thousands.