Descendants of American Southerners wearing Confederate-era uniforms pose for pictures at a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War in Santa Barbara d'Oeste, Brazil, April 26, 2015.
At the time, 25% of white Southern households owned slaves. That means the people interested in moving to Brazil in the 1860s disproportionately represented a relatively small, slaveholding slice of the free Southern population.
Because the exact number of Confederate families that migrated to Brazil is unknown, it is impossible to state with certainty how many rejoined the slave trade upon arrival. Silva’s research finds records of 54 Confederate families that purchased, in total, 536 enslaved Africans in Brazil.
In one, an American named Charles Gunter wrote about his desire to purchase enslaved people in Brazil at a lower price than he could in the U.S. Another Confederado, James Gaston, expressed disappointment that he couldn’t bring recently freed African Americans to Brazil.
Despite these historical records, many descendants of the Confederados dispute that slavery brought their forefathers to Brazil.
Either way, thousands of white southerners made Brazil their new home after the Civil War. In São Paulo state, they established a somewhat closed and culturally homogeneous community that maintained its southern traditions for generations.