After the conquest of the independent South in 1865, some Southerners fled to Brazil rather than suffer US occupation. These folks were invited by Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil and had a very positive relationship with the Brazilian government. They became known as Confederados. They settled mostly in the south of Brazil, primarily in the State of São Paulo. These Confederados established the village of Americana. They brought their Southern culture with them, including their religion, cuisine and language. Some aspects of their culture were absorbed into the broader Brazilian culture while others (such as the English language) have largely faded away over time. The settlement they founded, Americana, grew from a small village to a large city over time, thanks in part to a great deal of European immigration:
Heavy Italian immigration at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth reduced the proportion of residents of Confederado descent to a mere ten percent or so of the current population, and only about a dozen English-speaking families remain in the area.
Around three hundred of the Confederados are members of the Fraternidade Descendência Americana (Fraternity of American Descendants). They meet quarterly at the Campo Cemetery.
The city was known as Vila dos Americanos (“Village of the Americans”) until 1904, when it belonged to the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste. It became a district in 1924 and a municipality in 1953.
In 1972 Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter visited Brazil and met with descendants of the Confederados and had his picture taken at the Confederate monument in Americana:
In the wake of then-Governor Jimmy Carter’s visit to the region in 1972, Americana incorporated the Confederate flag into the municipal coat of arms (though the largely Italian-descended population removed it some years later, reasoning that descendants of Confederado now comprise but a tenth of the municipal population). While in Brazil, Carter also visited the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste and the grave at the Campo of a great-uncle of his wife Rosalyn. Her relative was one of the original Confederados. Carter remarked that the Confederados sounded and seemed just like Southerners.
Despite being well-assimilated into Brazilian society at this point, the descendants of the Confederados maintain a connection with one another and in recent years ties have been re-built between them and their kinsmen in Dixie:
The descendants of the Confederados are mostly scattered throughout Brazil. They maintain the headquarters of their descendant organization at the Campo center in Santa Bárbara D’Oeste, where there is a cemetery, chapel and memorial.
The descendants foster a connection with their history through the Associação Descendência Americana (American Descendants Association), a descendant organization dedicated to preserving their unique mixed culture. The Confederados also have an annual festival, called the Festa Confederada, dedicated to fund the Campo center. The festival is marked by Confederate flags, Confederate uniforms and hoop skirts, food of the American South with a Brazilian flair, and dances and music popular in the American South during the antebellum period. The descendants maintain affection for the Confederate flag even though they identify as completely Brazilian. Many Confederado descendants have traveled to the United States at the invitation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an American descendants’ organization, to visit Civil War [sic] battlefields, attend re-enactments, or see where their ancestors lived.