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Introduction The Confederados Cyrus B. Dawsey andJames M. Dawsey A curious event occurs at a site a few miles outside of the town of Santa Barbara, Brazil. As often as four times a year, people from throughout the country gather at a small chapel and cemetery situated amid the sugarcane fields, where, dressed in costumes of nineteenth-century America, they sing old Protestant revival hymns and listen to a sermon. After the worship service , the people share a traditional dinner on the grounds, which includes biscuits, gravy, and Southern fried chicken. Some of those eating do not look Brazilian. They have red hair, freckles, and blue eyes. The older ones spend the afternoon in conversation, catching up with news of family and friends. They talk, not in Portuguese, but in a quaint English dialect. The younger ones dance, play, and listen to the oft-told stories of their elders. The periodic gatherings are reunions of the confederados, descendants of Americans from the South of the United States who, dissatisfied with the outcome of the Civil War, packed or sold their belongings and moved to Brazil in the 1860s and 1870s. Although the saga of discontented Confederates sailing to new homes across the seas has been told before, there is much concerning this event that remains obscure. Details of the story have faded with time, and some aspects are clouded by romantic attachment to the Southerners or by misperceptions concerning the emigrants' motives. Oftentimes, American and Brazilian visitors to the Campo (field) cemetery at Santa Barbara search for familiar names among the tombstones. Among those buried there are Carltons, Cobbs, Greens, Moores, Norrises, Owens, Smiths, Steagalls, and scores more-all common names in Alabama , Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. Inscribed on the headstone of one of the founders of the community are the words "Soldier rest! Thy warfare o'er. Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking, Days of toil or nights of waking." Nearby, another marker claims that an early settler "died in perfect peace." Who were the ancestors of these people who still speak English and gather periodically near Santa Barbara? Where did they come from? Why did they leave the United States? And what led them to settle in that particular region of Brazil? 2 C. B. Dawsey & J. M. Dawsey Tombstone of a Member of the Steagall Family at Campo, Santa Barbara (Photograph by Cyrus B. Dawsey) Certainly, the pride, courage, and stamina of the rebel emigrants and the adventure of their quest have done much to stimulate both fanciful imagination and scholarly curiosity. Novels, magazine articles, newspaper accounts, historical papers, and referenced academic publications, with varying degrees of accuracy, have recounted elements of the story. And yet, there is much about the nineteenth-century migration and settlement that has not been fully examined. Although there are many questions to be answered concerning the historical context and the event of the migration itself, two topics related to the Southerners who moved to Brazil stand largely unexplored by the academic community. One concerns the cultural impact that the confederados, as they came to be called, exerted on their host country. Many descendants of the Americans state that their ancestors, though a tiny fraction of all those who immigrated to Brazil in the late nineteenth century, introduced innovations that transformed the rural economy. More important, the Americans are said to have marked educational and religious institutions in Brazil with an influence that has persisted to the present. A second topic that remains virtually unexamined by scholars concerns 3 Introduction the ways in which the original settlers and their descendants fit into the larger Brazilian society. Most immigrant nationalities that arrived in Brazil were quickly absorbed by the surrounding culture. Though they numbered but a few thousand and appeared earlier than most of the groups from other nations, the Americans maintained very distinctive traits, and some descendants still speak English as a first language. Why has this group held on to many of its ways while others, though larger, have not? This volume explores these and other topics related to the notable fact that descendants of Southerners who have lived in Brazil for approximately 125 years continue to see themselves as a distinct people. The book consists primarily of essays written by some of the principal scholars working in this area. The genesis of the book took place at a special conference held at Auburn University, Alabama, in July 1992, sponsored by the university's Institute for Latin American Studies and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817389024
Related ISBN
9780817309442
MARC Record
OCLC
45730752
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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