In the years after the Civil War ended, thousands of defiant and disillusioned Confederates fled Reconstruction-era Dixie and headed even farther south to Latin America. Some settled in Mexico and Venezuela, but the lion’s share sailed for Brazil, a former Confederate ally and one of the few countries in the Americas where slavery was still legal. Brazil’s Emperor Dom Pedro II first began luring the colonists in 1866 with newspaper ads and promises of land subsidies. Despite being publically urged not to go by the likes of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, some 10,000 disgruntled Southerners eventually took him up on his offer. Tropical diseases and primitive living conditions saw may of them call it quits and return home, but a few put down roots and began cultivating cotton, sugar and coffee. Settlements sprang up with names like “New Texas,” and their unreconstructed residents became known as “Confederados.”
The Confederados eventually learned Portuguese and intermarried with Brazilian natives, but they also entrenched themselves in rural outposts with Protestant churches, English-language schools and Southern cooking and culture. The most successful settlement was located near Santa Barbara d’Oeste, where a group led by former Alabama Senator William Norris forged a thriving farming community and established a nearby town called Americana. Descendants of the Norris colony and other Confederate exile groups remain in Brazil to this day, and they still celebrate their unusual heritage with an annual “Festa Confederada.” A few even kept their Southern drawl. When future President Jimmy Carter visited the Santa Barbara d’Oeste region in 1972, he was astonished to find that many of its residents spoke English with a South Georgia accent.