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In 1865, at the end of the American Civil War , a substantial number of Southerners left the South; many moved to other parts of the United States, such as the American West, but a few left the country entirely. The most popular country of Southerners emigration was Brazil.

Following the American Civil War, Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil wanted to encourage the cultivation of cotton and offered potential immigrants subsidies on transport to Brazil, cheap land, and tax breaks. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee advised Southerners against emigration, but many ignored their advice and set out to establish a new life away from the destruction of war and Northern rule under Reconstruction.

Many Southerners who took the Emperor's offer had lost their land during the war, were unwilling to live under a conquering army, or simply did not expect an improvement in the South's economic position. In addition, Brazil still had slavery (and did not abolish it until 1888). Most of the immigrants were from the states of Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina.

No one has determined how many Americans immigrated to Brazil in the years following the end of the American Civil War. As noted in unpublished research, Betty Antunes de Oliveira found in port records of Rio de Janeiro that some 20,000 Americans entered Brazil from 1865 to 1885. Other researchers have estimated the number at 10,000. An unknown number returned to the United States when conditions in the South changed, as reconstruction ended and the Jim Crow-era began. Most immigrants adopted Brazilian citizenship.

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