The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism
in the Americas
the faculty of the Department of History
East Tennessee State University
In partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree
Masters of Arts in History
Melvin Page, Chair
Keywords: Manifest Destiny, Brazil, Mexico, colonization,
emigration, Venezuela, Confederate States of America, Southern
The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism in the Americas by Justin Horton
At the close of the American Civil War some southerners unwilling to remain in a reconstructed South, elected to immigrate to areas of Central and South America to reestablish a Southern antebellum lifestyle.
The influences of Manifest Destiny, expansionism, filibustering, and southern nationalism in the antebellum era directly influenced post-bellum expatriates to attempt colonization in Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, and Brazil.
A comparison between the antebellum language of expansionists, southern nationalists, and the language of the expatriates will elucidate the connection to the pre-Civil War expansionist mindset that southern émigrés drew upon when attempting colonization in foreign lands.
I would like to show my gratitude to my thesis committee for all their help. My thanks to Dr. Tom Lee for always allowing me to seek his advice on teaching, as well as providing direction with writing. I also appreciate his assistance in understanding southern culture. Thanks to Dr. William Douglas Burgess who has done more for me than he will ever know. His guidance during the writing, as well as throughout my entire graduate career has made a strong impact on me and I am indebted to him for his assistance. And finally to my chair, Dr. Melvin Page who aided me in my professional development and understood and counseled me on my personal situations. His assistance, understanding, patience, and advisement inspired me to actually sit down and complete this work. I also want to express my thanks to a good friend, JW, who helped me write and flesh out ideas late at night
ABSTRACT ................................................................................... 2
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................................. 3
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................... 5
2. MANIFEST DESTINY AND SOUTHERN NATIONALISM ..... 13
3. POST-NATIONAL CONFEDERATE IMPERIALISM ............. 33
4. THE SECOND LOST CAUSE ............................................... 44
5. CONCLUSION ......................................................................63
VITA ........................................................................................... 76
With the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865 many Confederates found themselves outnumbered in a nation ruled by their previously avowed enemies. Most remained in the south or moved west, while some – mainly ex-Confederate officers – were forced to take loyalty oaths prior to being readmitted to the Union. However, a few groups of Confederates entertained the idea of emigration, either as independent adventurers or colonists. Groups led by Jo Shelby, Edmund Kirby Smith, and Henry Price emigrated outside of the United States to Central and South America. Each of these groups – which diffused into Mexico, British Honduras, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and Brazil – met hardships. In fact, many of the Confederate expatriates returned to the United States, discouraged by disease, homesickness, and/or a reluctance to accept the native culture and to be accepted by their would be adopted societies. Only one colony survived, Americana in Brazil. Despite the general lack of success, each Confederate emigrant sought one objective: preservation of their pre-war southern culture.
The Confederate exodus was the largest emigrant movement in United States history, rivaled only by African American “back to Africa” campaigns. The exodus included three groups. The first were civil and military officials who sought to evade damning allegations levied against them by the United States government. The second group included veterans unwilling to return to their destroyed homes and plantations in the South. The last and largest group included Southerners who left because of an unwillingness to accept Yankee domination and the onset of reconstruction.1 One historian asserts that the emigration by the expatriates was not the “spontaneous action of rash men,” but instead it was a meticulously planned option. Because of American expansionism in the antebellum era, the idea of expansion southward into Central and South America was a well known fact and possibility.
Confederates led by Jo Shelby and Edmund Kirby Smith left the United States for Mexico determined to maintain their Southern way of life. Shelby and Smith also entertained the idea that Mexico could serve as a strong point for reentry if an opportunity to invade the Unites States arose. One group, composed of not only ex-Confederates but previous Union officers, went to serve in the Egyptian army, not for the purpose of colonization, but for “vindi-cation, for adventure, and for wealth.” One ex-Confederate Admiral, John Tucker, left the states and became a rear-admiral for the combined Peru-Chile fleet in the war against Spain. Tucker took other ex-Confederates with him to serve in the Peru-Chile Navy, and that group later surveyed the Amazon River. The reasons Tucker and his men left the United States are unclear, other than the possibility of being unable to find suitable work at home and, perhaps Tucker’s distaste for reconstruction.
Each of the areas that Confederates immigrated to was chosen for specific reasons. As previously mentioned, Mexico was partly selected for the possibility of another invasion into the United States. Judge Alexander Terrell noted that some French officers encouraged a recruiting station staffed by ex-Confederates, along the Rio Grande in order to build an army that would ally with the French, should the United States attempt to push the French out of Mexico. The French troops also promised that if the United States did attempt the removal of French presence, they would assist the South in another civil war.6 However, Mexico was also appealing because of the standing invitation supplied by Emperor Maximilian. Maximilian favored the South, mainly because during the American Civil War Union officials supported the Juarista government in Mexico in order to gain the support of Juarez in blocking the French-Confederate support that stemmed from Maximilian. Maximilian also offered protection for the Confederate expatriates; however, they were required to remain in Mexico as inhabitants, not as military personnel. The Emperor even proposed that the expatriates could bring laborers with them, regardless of race, thereby increasing the number of colonizers and an attempt at enticing more pro-slavery southerners to immigrate. Maximilian strengthened his offer when he established a land decree for the Confederate exiles around Vera Cruz – a total of 500,000 acres known as Carlota.
In British Honduras, Confederate exiles were encouraged to come and settle the “fertile lands.” Prior to the war, some southerners had land in the area, and because of the success they experienced in growing sugar cane, and the profits that resulted, many were attracted to the land. An article from the New Orleans Daily Picayune argued that all of the tracts of land being procured by Reverend Duval and Major Malcolm Goldsmith had a favorable climate and were fertile enough to produce large yields of coffee, sugar, and rice.9 Throughout the American Civil War British Honduras participated in blockade running and contraband trade with the South. The area of British Honduras was ripe with pro Southern sympathy, so much so that the officials encouraged recently freed southern slaves to come and settle and farm in the area as well; one could argue that this move was an attempt to entice southern slave owners to immigrate for the opportunity to require cheap labor. British Honduran authorities, as did Maximilian in Mexico, offered land deeds for plantations to the Confederate emigrants. Although in 1869 the flood of emigrants stopped, over 1,000 ex-Confederates made the area home.
For Rear-Admiral John Tucker and his group of Confederate misfits, a large tract of land was deeded to him by the president of Peru. Tucker, after his service in the allied Peru-Chile Navy, established his plantation, which he dubbed Manassas in honor of his beloved South. Tucker’s hope was that the once the plantation was up and running he could bring his family from Virginia to the new “Manassas” to live. However, before Tucker began serious work on his plantation the president of Peru charged him with the duty of mapping the Amazon.
Venezuela was chosen by Dr. Henry Price because of the large land grant he had proposed to the Venezuelan government and the fertile soils that allowed productive cotton farming. The land grant – established in a resolution signed on 13 September 1865 between Price and the Venezuelan government – stated that a Confederate colony be created in the unused lands in state of Guyana and the Amazonas territory. The contractual agreement also established precedents that stated the colonists be granted citizenship after one year of residency, no taxes had to be paid for five years, and goods could be imported and exported without tariffs or duties for up to five years. Finally, the government of Guyana released 10,000 pesos in local funds in order to assist the incoming Confederate expatriates.
Brazil was unlike any of the aforementioned areas. The emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, employed various tactics – cheaper ship fares, temporary housing for exiles, establishment of immigration offices in Washington and New York – in order to attract ex-Confederates to Brazil. Dom Pedro also offered to sell any of the land in Brazil to the Confederate emigrants, and he offered full citizenship after two years of residency. Dom Pedro’s offer fell on exhilarated expatriates who were aware of the emperor’s favorable assistance during the war; he had allowed Confederate blockade runners in Brazilian ports to avoid Union pursuers.
Aside from the emperor’s assistance and encouragement, Brazil had other assets to offer the Confederate exiles. Laura Jarnagin argues that there were six major pull factors that attracted the Confederates to Brazil. One was the benevolent monarchy under the emperorship of Dom Pedro. The second was the degree of religious tolerance for religions other than Catholicism. Thirdly, prior to immigration there were clearly established relations between American immigration officials, especially southern immigration officials, and the government of Brazil. One newspaper asserted that the southern states dispatched around twenty agents to investigate the empire of Brazil, and if favorable reports were produced around 50,000 southerners were prepared to emigrate. As previously noted, the fourth reason was the land that was available for purchase by order of Dom Pedro. The Brazilian government also promised that railroads and trade routes would go through any Confederate colonies that were established in order to promote a strong infrastructure. Finally, Brazil still endorsed slavery; however, most Confederate emigrants did not take on Brazilian slaves and those that did released them soon after acquiring them because sustaining a slave plantation system proved to financially taxing.
One overarching motivating aspect for the immigration movement remains largely untouched by existing literature. The influences of the antebellum expansionist movement – through the venues of Manifest Destiny and filibustering – spearheaded the motivation for the Confederate exodus. The eruption of the expansionist movement during the Polk administration yielded not only land to a growing nation but a mindset that transformed Northerners and Southerners alike. Instead advocating for aggressive expansionism after the war, ex-Confederates pursued colonization in order to re-institute their southern lifestyle.
MANIFEST DESTINY AND SOUTHERN NATIONALISM
At the conclusion of the American Civil War, Southern honor was at stake; in a final move of defiance some southern expatriates left the country in an effort to keep the culture and hope of the vanquished South alive. Reconstruction meant surrendering to Northern domination and to a few ex-Confederates it signaled a death to manhood and honor.16 To preserve this honor and to continue a southern lifestyle unmolested meant for many forcing a way into a foreign region to attempt to reestablish southern antebellum life. It was an extension of Manifest Destiny or rather a sort of “Southern Manifest Destiny.” By moving into Central and South America expatriates possessed the opportunity to live life unchallenged and to have a chance to prove that God still reserved providence for the fallen Confederacy. The manifest mindset that encapsulated the antebellum era directly influenced the actions of those southerners who elected to emigrate.
The possibility of living in a reconstructed South was motivation for many southerners to sojourn outside of the country; however, for some it was more than that. Honor, pride, and manhood were intertwined ideas in southern culture, and because of this blurring it was easy to impart these ideas onto larger concepts or occurrences such as manifest destiny and nationalism. Because of successful American expansion in the antebellum era, a sort of sectionalism was fostered between the North and South, since addition of new territory threatened the balance between the two parties. The North and South were at odds during the antebellum period because of major cultural differences, not necessarily because of slavery. Southerners existed in a “rural and agricultural way of life, static in its rate of change. Southerners placed a premium on the values of loyalty, courtesy, and physical courage.” The North, by contrast, started to embrace technology and as a result life became somewhat impersonal. These cultural differences gave birth to southern nationalism – which later solidified in the face of defeat. Southern nationalism, however, was constantly at odds with American nationalism because of the shared commonalities (i.e. religion and heritage) with Northern counterparts. However, regional differences distorted nationalistic pride, and southern nationalism was fundamentally flawed at its core since its roots were essentially American. Though commonalities existed between the two regions, Southern nationalism took precedent over American nationalism, especially when the balance between the two powers was thrown off by the addition of new territory.
Southern nationalism was interwoven with the southern concepts of manhood and honor; one historian has even gone so far to argue that “honor was primarily a masculine concept.” Honor as a language was rooted in slavery. Southern gentlemen were, in their own minds, the antithesis to slaves because they viewed slaves as submissive and therefore without honor. If a southern male was found to be without honor, his social status would be equated to the same level as a slave. Though honor hinged on slavery it was only reinforced through the relationships of slave versus white southern gentlemen, since it was a “white language” that illustrated one’s position in society. Honor was intertwined with “entitlement, defense of family blood and community needs.” Honor also served as the underpinnings of southern society because it fueled the institution of slavery and it upheld the social classes. There was no better test of manhood and no better test of honor than engaging in an adventure like filibustering or, even more so, war. According to Amy Greenberg, southerners “internalized the need to maintain honor even at the cost of one’s life.” So, honor and manhood were one in the same with Southern nationalism, which fueled the desire for Southern expansionism.
The Civil War generation was brought up in the bustling era of Manifest Destiny – Mexican-American War, filibustering, and, even, the Civil War as examples of expansionism – because of this a sort of “manifest mindset” was instilled in individuals. During the antebellum era growth through expansionism meant prosperity, especially when Americans looked at the empires of Great Britain, France, and Spain. In reference to prosperity, United States President James K. Polk stated that “the acquisition of California and New Mexico, the settlement of the Oregon boundary, and the annexation of Texas… will add more to the strength and wealth of the nation than any which have preceded them since the adoption of the Constitution.” John Slidell summed up expansionism the best when he stated that “the law of our national existence is growth.” Expanding the territory of the United States also guar-anteed the spread of republican democracy; it was the duty of the country to civilize the areas around her like Mexico and Cuba. Americans adopted the idea of the civilizing mission because through expansionism societies of the uncivilized would be transformed through the spread of moralistic ideals. However, the definition of Manifest Destiny in the United States was blurred because while some believed in rapid expansion, others believed in a necessity for a rigid plan for expansion. Still others believed that expansionism would secure the idea of the Jeffersonian agrarian society, so it is understandable how southerners came to transform Manifest Destiny into a form of nationalism.
“Manifest Destiny was not simply a rhetorical tool of the Democratic Party expansionists of the 1850s; in the years leading up to the Civil War it was also a deeply held belief among many Americans,” because of successful expansionist movements in the American West and against Mexico.27 Though America had finished growing, according to one historian, by the 1850s, most citizens did not realize that American expansionism was at a halt – some historians have even argued that after the Compromise of 1850 Manifest Destiny was transformed into “Southern Manifest Destiny.” However, many Americans were still swept up in the fervor of expansionism, and they began to look not only north (toward Canada) but south (toward Cuba and Latin America) for further territory to settle. Southerners especially learned of exploits in Central and South America from newspapers and sermons of individuals who traveled or filibustered to these tropical areas. Central and South America were glorified in these reports, and such coverage transformed these areas of possible future immigration into, to borrow from one historian, “utopias.”
Lawrence Hill also noted that “it is certain that southern interest in the tropics reaches back into the era of ‘manifest destiny’… [because some southern agencies dispatched] advance agents into the domains of their Latin neighbors.” Hill went on to state “indeed in this [antebellum] era the fingers of ‘manifest destiny’ pointed southward as frequently as westward… this ante-bellum interest of the South in the tropics carried over to post-war days."
Southerners saw the Pacific, the Caribbean, as well as Latin America as the new frontier. By the mid-1800s these areas became the new opportunity to thrive much like the American West. Men took up the charge of Manifest Destiny because home life was boring; also, expansionism allowed men of the South to exert their manhood and honor. As previously noted, though Manifest Destiny was partially staved off by the Civil War the idea of expan-sionism also fueled the sectional conflict.
Manifest Destiny was furthered in another form, a sort of “supra-Manifest Destiny” – filibustering. Filibusters were men or groups of men who invaded territories for the purpose of acquisition without prior approval from the American government. One writer described filibusters as “freebooter[s], freelance conquistador[s] out to build a private empire.” Robert May argued that filibustering not only shaped political elections, but it assisted in the degeneration of sectional relations that eventually led to war. Though filibustering was not that successful when examined from an expansionist viewpoint – it “tended to inhibit rather than further territorial expansion” – those who wished to see manifest destiny come into fruition quickly advocated for such aggressive expansionism. Filibusters, such as William Walker were confident that by acquiring new territories American ideals would envelope the society and infrastructure of the new area – a civilizing mission. Though politicians of the day denounced filibustering, the practice did have the appeal of adventure, preservation of manhood, and it usually yielded good fortunes for men involved. Many young southern men were pulled into the lucrative adventure because it paid well – more than army pay – and it allowed them to assert their dominance over the native populations, especially non-white natives.
Supporters of filibustering painted Central and South America as paradises that could be secured by any man, even if he had encountered various hardships in America. Southerners and pro-southern Democrats favored filibustering because the acquisition of new territory meant more power over the North; but more importantly southerners realized that there was a need for land in order to foster a sovereign territory. For Chatham Wheat, an ex-Confederate officer, filibustering was necessary “from a patriotic purpose, i.e., to maintain the equilibrium of the States by strengthening the South… In the coming sectional strife… he and his friends fondly believed that the acquisition of Cuba as a new slave State would enable the South to withstand the further aggressions of Northern fanaticism, and maintain her rights under the Constitution.” Territorial expansion united southerners and enriched their sense of nationalism because new territory meant the preservation of southern culture - and later it would mean the promise of a sovereign Southern Confederacy.
As tension built within America over sectionalism, the South began to distance itself further from the North. The Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the acquisition of California and the Southwest Territory left the South infuriated because these territories offset the balance of power. David Potter, in reference to the California and Southwest Territory, argued that it was “an ironic triumph for ‘Manifest Destiny,’ an ominous fulfillment for the impulses of American nationalism. It reflected a sinister dual quality in this nationalism… the very triumph itself was subjecting their nationalism to internal stresses,” that eventually pulled the country into civil war. Southern Democrats who proposed extending the American territory were usually resisted by Northern politicians, while the supporters of states rights advocated that the nation should be extended by a sort of bi-continental version of sea to shining sea. The South used the “doctrine of Progress” and manifest destiny “to give ethical justification to imperialistic designs upon the Caribbean.” For instance southern acquisition of Cuba would have been two-fold. On one hand, it would strengthen the overall security of America; on the other, it would balance the territory, since California was admitted as a free state in 1850. Expansion into the Caribbean was necessary many southerners believed, so they would not become the minority among the powerful North.
In defense of the rights of the South to expand, Robert Toombs of Georgia advocated in the House of Represen-tatives on 13 December 1849 that “if by your legislation you seek to drive us from the territories of California and New Mexico, purchased by the common blood and treasure of the whole people, and to abolish slavery in this District, thereby attempting to fix a national degradation upon half the States of this Confederacy, I am for dis-union.” Toombs concluded his fiery recitation by charging the North with the responsibility to find an honorable resolution, but he noted that if the North did not listen to the pleas of the Southern states and “restore tranquility to the country… [then] let discord reign forever.” Toombs also argued that the Southern states did not oppose that California chose to be free-soil – “it was her right” – but Toombs objected that “the South has the right to an equal participation in the territories of the United States.” He continued stating, “give us our just rights, and we are ready… to stand by the Union… Refuse it, and for one, I will strike for Independence.”
An article by the late author and publisher, J. D. B. De Bow illustrated that “North Americans will spread out far beyond their present bounds. They will encroach again and again upon their neighbors. New territories will be planted, declare their independence, and be annexed! We have New Mexico and California! We will have Old Mexico and Cuba!” Though De Bow was advocating for the expansion of America, his article – as well as his journal – was directed toward the South specifically. In an article written by Samuel Walker, he contended that, “the safety of the South is to be found only in the extension of its peculiar institutions, and the security of the Union in the safety of the South… the great beauty of our system of government is in its power of expansion.” Walker argued that to secure the safety of the South, Cuba needed to be acquired like Texas, through annexation. He also stated that Cuba would sustain the growing populace of America, and, once occupied, it would take on the cultural characteristics of the South. In the eyes of Walker, “Progress [was] King.”
By the end of the 1850s, however, expansionist mindset and sectionalism had erupted in the South. An 1860 editorial in the Charleston Mercury elucidates southern opinion on expansionism on the cusp of civil war. The unsigned article argues that California was admitted to the Union as a freesoil state without consideration of Southern rights as a prospect of colonization. Because the new states that were admitted – Kansas, Nebraska, California, and the Southwest Territories – were claimed as free-soil, the South no longer had an opening for expansion. The article went further to assert that the constitutional right of the South to colonize was being infringed upon:
We frequently talk of the future glories of our republican destiny on the continent, and of the spread of our civilization and free institutions over Mexico and the Tropics. Already have we absorbed two of her States, Texas and California. Is it expected that our onward march is to stop here? Is it not more probable and more philosophic to suppose that, as in the past, so in the future, the Anglo-Saxon race will, in the course of years, occupy and absorb the whole of that splendid but ill-peopled country, and to remove by gradual process, before them, the worthless mongrel races that now inhabit and curse the land? And in the accomplishment of this destiny is there a Southern man so bold as to say, the people of the South with their slave property are to consent to total exclusion, or to pitch their tents, by sufferance, only along those narrow strips of inhospitable country where the white man cannot live, and where contact with squatterdom [sic] cannot reach us? Is all the rest to be given up to the aspiring, enterprising and indomitable people of the Northern States?... In the decision of the institutions to be established on this continent, the territorial rights of the people of the Southern States are of vital import. They will never consent to yield by ignoring them before the denial of the stronger section. They will repudiate those who give such counsels… If there is a terrestrial paradise on earth, it is Mexico… bordering on the Southern States, the natural course of extension would cover it by the enterprising population of the South… But the North has the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress. They can pluck and eat the “forbidden fruit” just when they please; for Mexico stands helpless and ready for absorption by the United States. Is it meant that Mexico shall be “forbidden fruit” to the South but not to the North – and that, by our consent, the North shall stretch forth around the Southern States in boundless expansion, whilst the South shall remain stationary, with a daily increasing weakness and helplessness, from her comparative inferiority? It is exactly that which the Abolitionists first broached in Congress when California was admitted into the Union.
The Review of Charlottesville Virginia on 25 January 1861 further illustrated the resilience and honor of the South in the face of American expansion. “Let our slaves be lost; let our fields be desolated; let our blood flow; never – never, with our consent, shall the free, proud spirit of this Commonwealth be humbled – never shall this brave people yield that most precious of all earthly possessions – their feeling of self-respect.”
When sectional tension finally erupted into civil war in April of 1861, southerners advocated for a sovereign Confed-eracy with every intention of expansion. In her diary Mary Boykin Chesnut stated that “we separated North from South because of an incompatibility in temper. We are divorced because we have hated each other so.”James Mc-Pherson asserted that much like the American patriots of 1776 who separated from the British Empire, “Southern patriots” separated from the “tyrannical Yankee Empire.” The South sought to defend their homes, family, and land from the Yankee oppressors. This was more than an exertion of manhood and honor, but preservation of the territory that was then the Southern Confederacy. In an article from the Southern Historical Society Papers written after the war Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter asserted that the South had no other option aside separation. He argued that colonization in the new territory acquired from Mexico would not come under the Missouri Comp-romise thereby pinning in southern expansionism. “She was threatened with being wiped out and annihilated by the superior resources of her antagonist.” Hunter continued “had the South permitted… her constitutional rights and her liberties [to expand and colonize] to be surreptitiously taken from her without resistance… would she have not lost her honor with them?” One historian asserted that once the Confederacy was firmly in place Southern nation-alism intensified so much so, that “there was a revival of the old spirit of Manifest Destiny, but with a Confederate twist. God had ordained the Confederacy… therefore he must have preordained that it would be come the next empire of the western world.”
During the war sentiment about the Confederacy, as well as expansionism through immigration, can be found in the letters and diary entries of Edwin Fay as well as Mary Chesnut. Fay, a rather well educated rebel sergeant, wrote home frequently to his wife and children to express his distaste for war, hatred of Yankees, and his desire to seek a new home abroad. On 16 December 1862, Fay told his wife that he had no faith in a victorious Confederacy, and that he would never remain in the south under Yankee domination. He urged his bride to think of new homes outside of America.53 As the war waned Fay again wrote to his wife in early September of 1863, stating that he was disgusted with war and he wished that they had moved to “some country where there was no war.”By the middle of September of the same year, Fay noted that he was not fighting for patriotism; instead he was fighting because of his “absolute hatred of the infernal Villains.” In the same letter the sergeant noted that he was ready to escape the war-torn Confederacy. His most provocative letter was penned to his wife on 23 October 1863, as he confided that he was “willing to sacrifice part of my happiness for my Country’s sake but not all of it. I think his family is a man’s first care and 2d his Country.” Fay continued to elaborate that because of the devastation and the turn of events by late 1863, confessing to his wife that he believed the war would continue for another ten years, and that he would rather leave and emigrate with her to Mexico to escape Yankee occupation.
Mary Chesnut’s comments, though brief, illustrate the willingness among Confederates to emigrate and the unwillingness to surrender. On 15 April 1862, Chesnut, after a conversation, wrote that her husband hoped that the war would soon end. Mr. Chesnut, as noted by Mary, continued to elaborate by stating that he wanted to leave the country for Mexico, which Mary outright objected. However, Mary Chesnut’s opinion changed once the South surrendered and she noted a conversation with a gentleman on 23 April 1865, in which the young man stated “we are not conquered. We are on our way to Maximilian in Mexico.”
In the face of bitter trials and tribulations, even some Confederate military officials reached out to foreign lands, especially General Edmund Kirby Smith. Smith was the commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department and insisted on contact with Mexico even after the formal surrender by Generals Lee, Early, and Johnston seeing it as an area for emigration and possibly a staging area for a re-invasion of the Union. In correspondence with advance agent Robert Rose on 2 May 1865, Smith wrote:
Having entire confidence in your patriotism and experience, I have deemed you a suitable person to present to His Majesty the Emperor certain views as to the future interests of the Confederate States and of the Empire of Mexico. As the military commander of this department, I have no authority to appoint diplomatic agents or to initiate negotiations with foreign powers. Yet in the present condition of our national affairs I deem it highly important, in a military point of view at least, to place myself in communication with the Government of Mexico. While, there-fore, you will expressly disclaim any authority from the Confederate Government to act in a diplomatic capacity, you may give assurance that there is every probability that our Government will be willing to enter into a liberal agreement with the authorities of the Mexican Empire, based upon the principle of mutual protection from their common enemy… Nor can it be denied that there is a probability of still further losses to us. It may even be that it is the inscrutable design of Him who rules the destinies of nations that the day of our ultimate redemption should be postponed. If then, final catastrophe should overwhelm our just cause, the contiguity of Mexico to us and the future designs of the United States must naturally be a subject of the deepest solicitude to His Imperial Majesty.
A few officers in Kirby Smith’s entourage, including Judge Alexander Terrell, considered Mexico as an area for colonization, because they believed that reconstruction would be “an era of oppression” for the people of the South. However, before settling on immigration Terrell and other officers entertained the idea of seizing a chunk of Mexico along the Rio Grande by armed force and using it as a peace offering to the United States government. Though Smith outright objected to the idea, the proposition illustrates the old filibustering mindset of aggressive expansionism and additional glory to the empire.
The antebellum era was supercharged with expansionist rhetoric and actions, and because of those circumstances southerners imprinted the values of rapid and aggressive expansionism onto the idea of immigration in order to avoid the death of honor and manhood. Once many southerners accepted the fact that the war was lost, many pursued the effort to maintain the preservation of their southern customs by entertaining colonization as a way to further their antebellum lifestyle, which included the expansion of the southern culture. The language of the rapid pro-southern expansionist, as well as the hardened southern veteran, bled over into the Confederate exodus as the leading impetus that fueled the immigration movement as a quest for cultural imperialism.
POST-NATIONAL CONFEDERATE IMPERALISM
Once the Southern Confederacy was defeated, numerous southerners rose up in a final act of defiance and emi-grated to Central and South America – with the two most popular and famous areas being Mexico and Brazil. The Southern exodus was inspired by a want to find adventure in the tropical paradises ex-Confederates heard or read about prior to and after the war. One historian asserted that it was not just adventure or defiance, but “Southern pride and honor dictated an exodus.” A popular advocate of Latin America, Matthew Fontaine Maury recorded many of his travels to the areas in the antebellum era. As early as 1853 Maury published an article in De Bow’s Review that elaborated upon the richness of the Amazon River valley. The commodore made the valley appear to be an untouched paradise that drained into “gold and diamond country” – playing on the desires of filibusters, as well as other aggressive expansionists, for adventure and riches. Maury also went as far to compare the Amazon River to the Mississippi. The former Confederate commodore not only exposed southerners to the possibilities of colon-ization in Mexico and Brazil, but he later headed the Mexican colonization society as charged by Emperor Maximilian.
The relationship between antebellum expansionism and post-bellum expatriation can be found in the language of the émigrés and various newspaper articles that covered the movement. The Charleston Daily Courier carried two articles on Brazil and Honduras that illustrated the desire to emigrate and colonize in 1866 and 1868, respectively. In the first article concerning Brazil, the author paralleled the Anglo-Saxon race with migratory birds, stating that all Americans were “migratory in their character.” The author continued to discuss the arrival of General William Wallace Wood. Upon the general’s arrival, according to the author of the article, Wood advocated for citizenship rights for the émigrés, including freedom of press and religion. Wood also charged the Brazilian government to allow any colonies established to develop an infrastructure in a southern antebellum form, which the Brazilian government agreed to. The second article opened with the statement that “we have left our homes, and with our families have surrendered the ties which once bound us to the land we love, to carve out a new destiny in this country.” J.M. Reynaud continued to expound, “for those who wish to recuperate their fallen fortunes, there is no country [British Honduras] that offers such inducements like this.” Reynaud made certain to note that he wrote this article to denounce the falsehoods of failure noted by the press about the settlement; instead he wanted to illustrate that post-Confederate expansionism into Honduras was a success – though later it did fail.
Newspaper coverage concerning Mexico, however, was more ubiquitous because of emigrant published newspapers in the area. Henry Watkins Allen, ex-governor of Louisiana, immigrated to Mexico after the end of the war in order to escape persecution. In June of 1865, Allen wrote to the citizens of Louisiana and stated that he had to go into exile. Allen made clear that he did not go into exile because of defeat, instead he went to preserve “pride and vigor of manhood, unconquered, unsubdued [sic].” While in Mexico, Allen became the editor of the Mexican Times, an English paper for Confederate expatriates. Allen noted in his paper that the purpose of the periodical was to provide a weekly publication printed in English, “which expresses the ideas and direct genius, labor and capital of a very large portion of the civilized world.” The Times also advocated for the immigration movement to Mexico and it promoted the growth of a solid infrastructure in the budding ex-Confederate colonies. Not only did the paper advocate for immigration, but it also illustrated the bitter emotions the expatriates held against the United States. Allen argued that “territorial expansion was never favored by those whose ideas now control our national policy,” and he advocated for “a strong, united, and free people” that would allow the expatriates to accomplish their task to “recover, maintain, and strengthen the unity of our States.” – a reflection of the southern take on Manifest Destiny. Allen’s rants continued on 7 October 1865 and 24 March 1866. The editor stated that once defeated southerners laid down their arms in the face of defeat, the ex-Confederates were willing to call on their “genuine patriotism and true manhood” in order to ensure peace, but because of the unfair treatment of reconstruction the choice to emigrate was clear and necessary so that the expatriates could escape “tyranny and oppression.” On Christmas of 1865, Allen wrote in his paper, “God bless the exiles… with grateful hearts thank all who have been kind to them in the land of the stranger.” Allen penned a letter home on 16 March 1866 while in Vera Cruz, noting that Southern emigrants were arriving quickly; he continued to say that “there is enough land [in Mexico] for all of the South.” Allen’s frequently writings home – some were articles reprinted from the Mexican Times – encouraged southern emigration to Mexico, so that his fellow ex-Confederates could share in a relocated southern lifestyle unmolested. In defiance, the ex-Louisiana governor asserted that “emigration will go on… it will prosper – it will thrive, and God will bless it… there are thousands yet coming whose noble aspirations are above the miserable and narrow minded… I say to all in the States who desire to retrieve their fortunes, who wish to live in peace and quietude under a good government – come to Mexico.”
Another take on Mexican emigration can be found the language between two ex-Confederate soldiers. One letter from Benjamin Crowther to J. Calvin Littrell illustrates the desire to immigrate and remain in Mexico. Crowther said that he chose Mexico over the “God-forsaken land of the so-called United States – [because] as you are well aware that the word united is only a name and not a fact.” This is a powerful statement as it reflects Crowther’s unwillingness to recognize the reunification of the country. It also shows that Crowther believed that God had retracted His divine benevolence toward the United States and that it was instead reserved for those who were displaced from their southern homes.
Brazilian immigration was covered by a large number of American papers since many of them tried to denounce the immigration movement while others attempted to advocate for such a plan. An article in De Bow’s Review asserted that a large number of Southerners would most likely immigrate to Brazil because no one could “urge them to remain in a country where Justice, if not dead, sleepth [sic], where Liberty is bound in chains, where might is right, and Law a mockery.” Joseph Abney, the president of the Southern Colonization Society exalted that the purpose of the society was to aid individuals seeking immigration to Brazil. It was for those who were “heartily sick of our unutterable woes,” and he asserted that together the émigrés would “build up, in the heart of Brazil, a noble flourishing commonwealth, with a government, and institutions of our own formation.” An article printed in a southern newspaper argued that the reasons for expatriation were strong because “the political power which they [the South] wielded for self-protection, [was] ruthlessly wrestled from them.” The writer ensured that Brazil was compared to states like California and Texas, but neither of those could surpass the superiority of Brazil when it came down to climate, soil fertility, and individual rights.
The argument for Brazilian emigration was strengthened by the post-war book, Brazil, a Home For Southerners, which the Reverend Ballard Dunn confessed he had “written for such Southerners as are seriously contemplating expatriation for manly motives.” Dunn advocated that southerners should not be subjected to a country mired in reconstruction; where one would find that there was “neither present, nor prospective, security, for life, liberty, and property.” A letter written on 24 August 1886, M.F. Demaret also revealed that he had “seen enough of Brazil to convince me that my removal to this country was a fortunate one.” Two other accounts from Dunn’s book illustrate the appeal of emigration. The first account, written by Dr. H.A. Shaw and Major Robert Merriwether, noted that Brazil had “the most fertile soil in the Universe, and more cheap land to allure the emigrant than any other nation under the sun.” In the second account, William Scully contended that “foreigners are welcomed in Brazil… a life of more prosperity and of greater ease awaits.” However, the prose in one letter stands out above the rest. A letter written on 2 June 1866 from W. Frank Shippey to Reverend Ballard Dunn:
Here [Brazil], the war torn solider, the bereaved parent, the oppressed patriot, the homeless and despoiled, can find a refuge from the trials which beset them, and a home not haunted by the eternal remembrance of harrowing scenes of sorrow and death. This portion of Brazil, I firmly believe, to a great extent than any other, offers induce-ments to emigrant, and in particular, to those of our unfortunate countrymen, whose feelings or interests rend a longer stay in the Southern State, undesirable or impracticable, while the liberal policy of the government [Brazilian]… can be maintained without fear of intrusion or arrest.
Dunn’s compellation not only reinforced the idea of expansionism, but it also supported the ideas of preservation of manhood and honor – those strong southern ideals which fueled secession, war, defiance, and then emigration. Much like Dunn, James Gaston recorded his inspection of the empire of Brazil to aid those desiring to immigrate. Gaston’s record is very similar to Dunn’s because they both cover the climate, agriculture, and land of Brazil – though one historian argues that the surveys of the area were superficial because of the elation of the men conduc-ting the assessment. However, it is how Gaston concludes his work that elucidates the want to preserve southern ideals as well as his opinion of the perfection of Brazil. He states “to our Southern people the empire of Brazil embodies the character and sentiment among the better class of citizens, very much in keeping with our standard of taste and politeness. It has grown out of the consciousness that worth makes the man.” This statement appeals to the idea of honor that southerners held so high in the antebellum era and it inspired sojourners to avoid surrender through choosing to emigrate. Gaston continued “there is a dignity and a hospitality among these people that correspond in many respects to the lofty and generous bearing which characterized the Southern gentlemen in former times.”
Frank McMullen, another ex-Confederate colonizer in Brazil, reported to the New Orleans Times on 24 January 1867 that anyone that wished to settle on the lands guaranteed by Brazil would have to prove their “southernness.” McMullen’s article continued to report that if prospective colonizers wished to settle on the land grant he acquired, they would have to “give satisfactory references that they are Southern in feeling, pro-slavery in sentiment, and that they have maintained the reputation of honorable men.” The article ended with a promise of open arms “from friends of those of their own ‘sort’” if they proved themselves as true southerners.
Mrs. Sarah Bellona Smith wrote of Frank McMullen and her father as opponents of reconstruction. She stated that her father voluntarily chose emigration because of the fears of a Yankee dominated South, while McMullen stated that he would never bow to Yankees and “nigger rulers.” However, it was Smith’s prediction about Brazil that stands out as ironic and provocative. She argued that because of the benevolence of Emperor Dom Pedro and his predi-lection for immigration – especially toward immigrants from the South – that Brazil would be transformed into “the richest and most powerful nation in the world.”
Because of the aggressive American expansionist movement in the antebellum era, southerners – and northerners alike – were enamored by a “manifest mindset” that bled over into the post-war years. Though many Confederate expatriates returned to their old homes in the vanquished South – few went north while some did go west – concepts of honor, manhood, pride, and nationalism inspired the defeated to continue their lives outside of the United States. The reports of advance agents, the rhetoric of expansionist politicians, and newspaper coverage of filibustering transformed life abroad in Central and South America into a paradise ready for the taking. The language used prior to and after the war illustrates that “Southern Manifest Destiny” was still unfolding in the minds of many Confed-erate expatriates. Though little impact was left by the majority of the expatriates, manifest destiny pushed them toward a final move of defiance in the form of emigration and gave one last breath of life to a fading Southern nationalism.
THE SECOND LOST CAUSE
While nationalism and expansionism were powerful impetuses to spur immigration, each of these colonized areas had unforeseen troubles. An article written by Julius J. Fleming to the Charleston Courier on 8 March 1866, gives an overall synopsis of why the difficulties overwhelmed the ex-Confederates: “Americans are a migratory people, and constant motion prevents stagnation; and while not unmindful of the question of profit, they sometimes dash into a venture for venture’s sake, even though it may fail to pay.” In Mexico the Confederates had to deal with the oppo-sition posed by the Juarista government. On the march into Mexico, Jo Shelby’s troops encountered heavy Juarista resistance. The Juaristas opposed the Confederates, as well as Maximilian, because the Juaristas saw the recent emigrants as threats to Mexican heritage and culture. The Juaristas expressed a sense of what could be called “100% Mexicanism,” a twist on the idea of 100% Americanism that was experienced at the turn of the 20th century in the United States. Comparably, the American officers, both Union and Confederate, who went to serve in the Egyptian army in the late 1860s and early 1870s, experienced a sort of “100% Egyptianism.” Both of these groups vehemently resisted any change to their way of life and did not support the idea of incorporating any Western ideas.
Once the Mexican-based Confederate expatriates established themselves in Carlota there was an outcry for further immigration because more colonists ensured the possible success of the settlement. However, land speculation drove up property prices and discouraged colonists, especially when land was so cheap in the western United States. The colonists in Carlota attempted to maintain a southern way of life by growing southern crops, holding picnics and dances, and organizing social societies for men and women. The Hotel Confederate in Cordova served as a central hub where Confederate expatriates could mingle and engage in southern traditions. However, the hotel never caught on as a cultural nucleus and the picnics and societies were not enough to maintain a southern colonial presence in Mexico. Many Confederate emigrants were dissuaded because of disease, robbers, lack of employment, the refusal by Maximilian to allow ex-Confederate soldiers into the military, lack of interest in farming, and the culture clash with the French and the Juaristas; all these factors inspired many emigrants to return to the United States. Many expatriates also felt homesickness, and a good example can be found in the recollections of Alexander Terrell. Terrell, after he returned to the United States, remembered that “the human mind is so constituted that when all the ties that bind us to home and country are rudely severed – when the purse is empty, and nothing is left to strive for amid old field of effort, we are easily led astray by Utopian schemes in the hope of bettering our condition.” Terrell also noted that “the exile’s heart turns instinctively to the distant home where his loved ones are.”
Maximilian still wanted Confederate emigrants so that he could reinforce his position in war-torn Mexico. Maximilian contracted Matthew Fontaine Maury, ex-Commodore of Confederate Navy, to draw up a strong immigration proposal that was supposed to attract craftsmen and laborers from the United States, as well as Europe. Maury, while serving as Imperial Commissioner of Colonization, attempted to found “New Virginia” in hopes of attracting 200,000 immigrants. Maury offered, as both Maximilian and Dom Pedro in Brazil had previously, land titles, exemption from taxes for a year, exemption from military service for five years, and citizenship after a land grant was established. Maury’s plan flopped (Southerners were not convinced), and because he did not deliver the Southern immigrants that Maximilian was relying on to support the imperial state, the French puppet government began to collapse. The final blow came on 19 June 1867, when Maximilian was killed by a Juarista firing squad, and the possibility of a self-sustaining Confederate colony in Mexico vanished. Most of the Confederates returned home, although a few ventured south into Venezuela or Brazil, because chances in the vanquished South under the auspices of reconstruction were better than staying in Mexico and trying to survive the Juarista government.
British Honduras as a locale for possible Confederate colonization was mostly a failure from the beginning. British Honduras was troubled with a foundering economy and a small population base. Wayne Clergen argues the American Civil War gave the area the opportunity to flourish because involvement in contraband trade with the South “ultimately proved to be the greatest single influence for the internal development of British Honduras.” As previously noted, British Honduras endorsed the idea of attracting Confederate expatriates and recently freed slaves, but the purpose for doing so was twofold. The first reason was to attempt to stabilize the decline in population. The second was the hope that these two groups would promote agriculture through the cash crop cotton and boost the Honduran economy through cheap labor. However, once in Honduras the Confederate expatriates were quickly dissuaded. Southerners were stuck with a deed to a small tract of unfertile land, unable to cultivate any crops. The ex-Confederates were also dissuaded because the majority of requests for assistance made to the native government went unanswered. By 1869 Southern immigration to Belize diminished, and most emigrants returned to their homes in the United States. Clergen argued the main reason for their return, aside the aforementioned problems, was homesickness – a sense of one does not know what they have until they lose it.94 Instead of attracting more southerners to the area, the poor crop yields and lack of funds created a reversal of immigration, and the expatriates returned to the United States.
In Peru, John Randolph Tucker and his aides spent the majority of their time mapping the Amazon, on the orders of the Peruvian president. Tucker was placed in charge of the Hydrographic Commission of the Amazon in mid-April of 1867 and began cataloging the area by the end of May. After Tucker and his men completed their mission of cataloging the river, the group attempted to rebuild their lives in Peru. Tucker’s own plantation fell apart, as did the other land grants his men attempted to establish. Much like the Confederates who left Belize, Tucker’s group grew homesick. Slowly they realized that Peru could never support a southern way of life. All of the men Tucker persuaded to come to Peru to assist him, including Tucker himself, returned to the United States.
In Venezuela, Dr. Henry Price led or arranged six groups of Confederate emigrants to the Price Grant – the name for the land grant he established with Venezuela prior to emigration. The first expedition – which sailed without Price because of his other responsibilities – discovered that the land grant was not as large as the resolution originally spelled out. The first expedition fell apart because there were few colonists, and after learning the grant was not as promised many went in search of their own land or for gold prospects – diminishing the cohesion of the possible colonial population. The next five attempts were met with the same failing properties: no money, disease, a small number of potential colonists, refusal by the Venezuelan government to deliver the lands promised, and refusal by the state of Guyana government to aide the expatriates in supplies, goods, and money. In addition to these problems, the Confederates found – again like those in Belize, Mexico, and Peru – that the land was distasteful and nothing like that of the American South. Alfred and Kathryn Hanna argued that the Price Grant was doomed to fail because Dr. Price never organized the movement, there was no money to fund the migration, and there was a fundamental lack of leadership.
In Egypt Americans who served in the Egyptian army did not go to establish a colony, though they encountered similar troubles. The major problem for these Americans was an unassailable cultural rift – the same problem that the exiles in Mexico and Venezuela faced head on. The Americans, similar to their counterparts in Central America, refused to understand Egyptian culture. Protestant beliefs did not mesh with the Moslem faithful who surrounded them, especially since the Egyptians were not as tolerant toward religion as the Brazilians proved to be. Although this group of Americans was made up of Union and Confederate officers and soldiers, they lived rather well together; since they were in a foreign land the connection as Americans unified them in a desire to maintain American customs and traditions. Unlike their compatriots in Latin America, the Americans in Egypt garnered further hatred from the natives because of their increasing ability to fall into debt – granted part of the increasing indebtedness was because the Egyptian government did not pay the soldiers on time or in full for services rendered. Because of the idea of “100% Egyptianism” and an unwilling reluctance on the part of the Americans to assimilate into the native culture, the soldiers returned home to the United States.
Brazil stands as the only exception, a place where Confederate émigrés established successful colonies since they found fertile land, a benevolent government, and religious tolerance. Though the empire had recently suffered an economic downturn because of the abolition of slavery, the Southerners in Brazil were able to successfully incorporate farming techniques that had brought them success in the American South.The Confederate exiles in Brazil also kept open communication with their respective families in the United States, thus mostly helping in overcoming any lingering homesickness.
According to C. B. Dawsey, it was the flourishing community center at Campo that contributed to the overall success of the Brazilian colonies. Near Santa Barbara, Campo evolved as a virtual community center, because it was the central point between four Confederate colonies (Retiro, Santa Barbara, Funil, Estacao). Campo attracted southern doctors, lawyers, and pastors in one place that promoted the preservation of southern culture. There ex-Confederates consumed an accustomed southern cuisine, spoke their native tongue, listened to Baptist or Methodist sermons, and found a myriad of other ways to interact with other expatriates. Dawsey, however, does not mention the cultural center of Hotel Confederate in Mexico, and why Campo maintained southern culture when Hotel Confederate was unable to do so.
Though only a few of colonies in Brazil survived, all of the Confederate expatriates arrived in their respective regions with one goal in mind; preservation southern culture. For example, in an interview with the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Virginia Fenley remembered her early life in Brazil after emigration. She stated that every night – after working all day in the fields with her father and brothers – her mother gathered all the children around the kitchen table to learn, study, and practice English. Fenley stated that her mother felt it was necessary to study their native tongue because her mother “was determined to perpetuate the Southern way of life.”101 It can be argued that the exiles – like Fenley and her family and those who immigrated to other areas of the empire – were cultural imperialists, prepared to impart their culture on another without accepting the native society that surrounded them. However, the Brazilian expatriate colony, Americana, survived because the Confederates who remained there (called confederados) understood that for southern culture to survive they had to be accepting of the civilization that enveloped their own.
Not all expatriates in Brazil led such perfect lives. There was a lack of transportation between the colonies as well as within the colonized areas. For southern agriculturalists, the extremely unreliable ox cart was the only form of transportation, and there was no form of an American wagon. Farmers had difficulty in finding laborers for their plantations because of the abolition of slavery and little income – which occurred because the expatriates had little money to start with and because transportation of crops was difficult – did not allow the employment of salaried workers. Also, southerners were not able to fully establish their own self-governed infrastructure as hoped. The previously mentioned schools and churches belonged to Villa Americana, but the other Confederate colonies lacked these establishments thereby hindering their social cohesion and growth. Homesickness struck the émigrés in the failed Brazilian colonies, Julia Keyes wrote in her diary on 22 December 1868, that her mother and sister received letters from the United States and that to read them caused her great grief because “Brazil is so different from my native land.” Keyes also noted on 5 April 1869 that the family discussed returning to the United States, but they feared the “war” between whites and blacks and reconstruction. She stated, “it may be best after all if we remain in Brazil and try to crush the longing that we may often have, for the land of our birth and the loving and loved friends we have left.”These difficulties, many of which were published in American papers, hindered further immigration and the growth of the failed colonies.
Aside the respectively aforementioned hardships, the expatriates in each of the areas had two major marks already against them. The first was the lack of money amongst all of the emigrants, because wealthy ex-Confederates chose not to emigrate because they still had legitimate claims in the vanquished South. Secondly, the press coverage in America denounced immigration movements. Three articles from the New York Herald in 1865 reported that Mexico was a bad choice as a site for colonization because of the ensuing war between President Juarez and Emperor Maximilian. The Herald also asserted that the reports made by Imperial Commissioner Matthew Fontaine Maury were lies and that fortune did not await those who elected to emigrate. Another article from the Herald stated that potential immigrants needed money in the pocket and must possess a strong work ethic, and if they did not have those two characteristics then they should remain in the states where they can lean on the assistance of their neighbors. Letters to the Charleston Courier between 1867- 1868 not only discouraged immigration because of the dangers of Mexico, but it also printed letters that illustrated the failures of the Mexico colonies and how many expatriates returned home. Southern papers, like the Charleston Daily Courier, usually neglected publishing any good news from the colonies and instead reprinted coverage from northern papers. More importantly, southern papers did not want to promote immigration because the southerners who chose to remain in the South understood that they needed all ex-Confederates to remain in the vanquished region to survive the onslaught of reconstruction. Because of this desire to keep ex-Confederates in the South, one editorial stated that, “we want all of our young men here in our own state. Let them look around and they will soon realize the fruits of a spirit that is not ashamed of perseverance.” The editorial concluded by stating that no individuals should partake in the unpredictable colon-ization schemes of Mexico and Brazil, but instead they should remain in their respective state and reestablish a true southern lifestyle.110 An article in DeBow’s Review also reiterated the importance of remaining in the United States. The article noted the possible hardships in the areas chosen for colonization and encouraged southerners to stay and help in resisting reconstruction.
Andrew Rolle argued that the cultural impact of Confederate migration to Mexico was nominal to non-existent. He noted that all of the towns that were constructed are no longer present, the emigrants made no real impact on the land, and they did not make a lasting impression on the country or the inhabitants. Much like Rolle, the Hannas did not find any lasting affects imposed by the scant number of Confederates in Venezuela. There were too few expatriates who migrated to Venezuela to make a great impact; however, the Hannas fail to make such a conclusion. In British Honduras the exiles influenced agriculture, specifically the sugar industry; beyond that, Wayne Clergen did not offer any other possibilities.
It is undeniable that Tucker and his men had quite a lasting effect in Peru. While rear-admiral of the combined Peru-Chile Navy, Tucker employed various tactics and strategies that he learned during his tenure as a naval officer for the United States and for the Confederacy. He introduced torpedo-boats, naval manuals were printed in Portuguese, and he encouraged the establishment of a Peruvian naval training school. Before his tenure as head of the Hydro-graphic Commission, he introduced the plow to Peruvian farmers. Tucker introduced specialized boats that could navigate the waterways of the Amazon, having them specially constructed for such a purpose. His greatest contri-bution was the mapping of the Amazon River, since the maps Tucker and his crew created were the most detailed to date.
The Americans who served in Egypt left many Western ideas behind in the form of schools, science, and surveying. General William Loring introduced American military tactics and organization to the Egyptian Army, and army schools were established to train officers. Americans also introduced engineering and surveying to the Egyptians. Surveying teams engaged periodically around Egyptian borders, as well as within the depths of Egypt, to map uncharted areas. Engineers helped strengthen the Egyptian infrastructure by designing and building roads, bridges, and railroads.
Because the expatriates in Brazil succeeded in establishing their colony and solidifying their presence in the region, the affects they imposed on the surrounding area are more noticeable when compared to the influences made by the previously mentioned groups. The confederados introduced Western ideas in the form of Protestantism, missionary schools, farming techniques, southern cuisine, and the English language to the area in southern Brazil. By the third generation of confederados railroads were in place, MacKenzie University and Confederado Teachers College opened, houses began to take on the look of old plantation mansions and Protestantism prospered.116 The expatriates introduced southern farming techniques that included the use of the plow and the buckboard wagon, while cultivating crops like cotton and watermelons.
Because of the influx of Baptist and Methodist missionaries Western ideas in the form education took root. The missionaries introduced Western ideas in the form of “philosophy and ethics which influenced Brazilian economic and political structures.” Baptists established missions for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the heathens of Brazil, but mainly to ensure the gospel was available to the Southern emigrants. Baptist education focused on educating the young, but Methodist education breached the cultural gap by translating hymns into Portuguese, thereby providing one of the first stepping stones to integration with the Brazilian society that surrounded the confederados.
Though the confederado town of Americana still exists, most of the southern culture, including the English language, has faded away because of integration and European immigration. Of the two, European immigration truly inhibited lasting cultural impacts of the confederados. Europeans, mainly Italians, continued to immigrate to Brazil, while southerners did not; because of a small number of confederados they were overwhelmed by European influences, over their own.120 Between 1879 and 1930 the Confederate colonies in Brazil suffered from a sharp economic downturn. For some the areas they settled did not have fertile soil, and since life in the jungle was too difficult, many sold their land and crops to get money to survive or try and pay for the journey back home. The few who remained, mainly at Americana, either worked for or blended into native society, erasing their own southern presence.
The Confederate expatriate movement was eclipsed by setbacks in the colonies, a native negative attitude toward colonization, and the European immigration movement. In combination with lack of funds, deaths, disease, and lack of solid leadership to continue to encourage emigrants, the aforementioned problems doomed the Confederate colonization attempts. Fundamentally the ideas of southern nationalism and “Southern Manifest Destiny” were American at the roots and were unable to stand on their own as a southern colonial ideal, hindering the ideals the movement hinged upon. One need only look to the example of post-Civil War Egyptian military service as the solidification of nationalism at its basic level. Union and Confederate officers set aside respective nationalistic pride and relied on their commonalities as Americans to survive the nationalistic bias of Egypt. It can be argued that from the outset the Confederate colonization movement stands as the second lost cause – doubly defeated while working to preserve a southern way of life, which had already been defeated following General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
Common themes resound from this study into the Confederate exodus. Scholars have elaborated that Confederates left their homes because of Yankee rule and freed slaves and fears this would strangle southern culture. The Confederates attempted colonization in Central and South America to preserve their way of life; however, most did not succeed because of homesickness, lack of funds, lack of leadership, and native opposition. Brazil stands apart from the other attempts because of the degree of tolerance of the Brazilian government and society, as well as a willingness to assimilate by the confederados. Nevertheless, there are still numerous research possibilities on this topic, including: regional opinions on Confederate colonization; long-term influence of Western ideas as introduced by Protestant missionary schools; assimilation of the confederados into Brazilian culture; personal and individual motivation to immigrate; and the influence of cultural centers as a way to maintain southern traditions, just to name a few.
The southern attempt at colonization was nothing more than a romanticized idea of cultural imperialism. Confederate expatriates believed in a still thriving antebellum southern lifestyle – which in some ways was also romanticized. The grandiose plan of colonization was flawed at its core because expatriates relied on a dream that possessed no solid foundation – infrastructure – to ensure success.
In the antebellum era slavery was fundamental to southern industry and society. Though slavery was not prerequisite for Confederate colonization – especially since Brazil was the last to outlaw slavery in 1888 – it is possible that some expatriates planned on re-instituting the system like William Walker in Nicaragua in the antebellum era. However, colonization plans were not universal. Stubborn pride mislabeled as honor was superimposed on expatriation in an attempt to successfully reestablish antebellum life. Because of a lack of commonality among colonization groups or societies on how antebellum life was truly structured, the end product of colonization devolved into nothing more than a vagary of perception.
The major abounding theme is the transformation of Manifest Destiny into “Southern Manifest Destiny” and how the aggressive expansionist mindset influenced the expatriate movement. Inspired by filibustering campaigns and surveys of tropical paradises, southerners transferred their expansionist mindset into a quest for cultural imperialism – an attempt to reestablish their antebellum lifestyle. The language of the pro-southern champions of Manifest Destiny, when compared to the articles and diary entries of the expatriates illustrate the transformation of the “manifest mindset” as it applies to immigration as a form of defiance. What southerners failed to recognize was the fact that Manifest Destiny had come to a halt in the antebellum era and “Southern Manifest Destiny” was incapable of solidifying the aggressive expansionist movement in order to maintain a southern antebellum lifestyle as hoped. The lack of a Confederate infrastructure or the lack of an established expatriate colonial infrastructure in the southern antebellum style combined with a lax immigration movement destroyed the possibility of a southern cultural imperialistic conquest. It is also important to note that part of the reason for the failure of Confederate colonization was the reliance on Southern nationalism. Southern nationalism at its core was American, and it could not be separated from its American nationalistic roots and stand on its own.
Although the works discussed have expounded upon the Confederate Exodus, there is little extant literature on the subject - when compared to other aspects of the American Civil War and the history of its aftermath; therefore, there are numerous questions left untouched. Many of these works examine the influence of the Confederate expatriates from a Confederate point of view while ignoring regional works that could elucidate how the respective areas view Confederate migration and impact. Andrew Rolle’s and Alfred and Kathryn Hanna’s works briefly and inadequately discussed the possible impact left by the Confederate exiles in Mexico and Venezuela. Further research in possible influence left behind by the expatriates in these two areas – while drawing on regional sources – could illustrate the spread of Western ideas into these areas during the period of Confederate residency and immediately following the expatriate departure. The same could be said for the few Confederates who immigrated to British Honduras, since the only lasting influence that Wayne Clergen noted was in agriculture.
Eugene Harter’s book, The Lost Colony of the Confederacy, leaves readers with many questions about Confederate colonization in Brazil; however, Cyrus and James Dawsey’s work fills many of those gaps. The Dawseys have contributed greatly to the scholarship that surrounds the Confederate exodus by focusing on the reasons for immigrating to Brazil, how the Confederates influenced Brazilian culture, and how the confederados assimilated into the native society. The book also offers possibilities for future research. Celia M. Azevedo argues that Confed-erados authors do not mention the southern immigrants who left Brazil in the 1880s to return home, as did many of their fellow expatriates who migrated to other areas of Central and South America. The Dawseys and their contributors illustrate how the rise of Protestantism, education, and the cultural center at Campo preserved a southern way of life, and also how they contributed to the assimilation of the confederados; however, they do not fully show how those themes are intertwined.
Further study could illustrate just how the confederados have almost completely assimilated into the Brazilian culture; with one question being: did cultural imperialism succeed in the Brazilian colonies? Success was in part because of the confederados willingness to integrate with the Brazilian society; however, more research in this area is necessary because to leave it with such a simple answer would be a fallacy of reduction, especially when one considers the tremendous influx and impact of European immigration.
The contributors to Confederados have drawn from the primary sources of various confederados; however, they have not examined works by Brazilian scholars and how they view the contributions that have been identified by the authors. Cyrus Dawsey boasts that the failed colonies did not have a cultural center like Campo; however, unless Dawsey is referring to the failed Brazilian colonies, there was the Hotel Confederate in Mexico. Research about the similarities and difference between Campo and Hotel Confederate could illustrate why Campo succeeded in maintaining southern culture and unified the expatriates, while Hotel Confederate did not.
The possibilities for research from a Mexican, Venezuelan, or Brazilian point of view are rich. It is still unclear why the Mexican government under Maximilian, and why the Venezuelan government, were hesitant in aiding the Confederate emigrants they endeavored so hard to attract. One might also ask why Dom Pedro II offered such generous terms to the Confederate expatriates; granted Maximilian offered similar provisions, but only Dom Pedro was able to fulfill his promise. Lastly, understanding the background of each of these areas could elucidate why they were opposed, hesitant, or accepting of the Confederate emigrants who found their way into the respective Latin cultures.
Another research possibility is to define what exactly the “Southern Way of Life” meant to the émigré and how the ex-Confederates attempted to maintain such a lifestyle. Granted all of the scholars quoted here have identified elements such as agriculture and hints of aristocracy, there is no clear explanation for a “Southern Way of Life” when compared to the characterized “American Way of Life.” This suggestion carries over into the idea of cultural imperialism how it differs from imperialism, and how any form of imperialism needs an established infrastructure to succeed. While the Confederate expatriates were trying to establish colonies, the United States moved to engage the world market in an “outward thrust” of manifest destiny. America was successful in such an economic imperial thrust; however, the Confederates lacked the developed infrastructure that America had, thus making the expatriate cultural imperialist movement difficult to impose.126 Misguided, misdirected, and misinformed Confederate sojourners failed at their second attempt to expand under the ideas of the civilizing mission and preservation of southern ideals and rights.
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Numerous antebellum and post-bellum papers were helpful to this work, including: The Mexican Times, The New Orleans Daily Picayune, The Charleston Daily Courier, The Mobile Daily Register, The Edgefield Advertiser, The New York Herald, DeBow’s Review, and The New Orleans Times.
Other sources may yield further information to this topic, especially two sources that are in Portuguese, which are: Frank Goldman. Os pioneiros americanos no Brasil (educadores, sacerdotes, covos e reis). Sao Paulo: Ed Pioneria, 1972, and Norma Guilhon. Confederados em Santare´m : saga americana na Amazonia. Belem: Conselho Estadual de Cultura, 1979.
JUSTIN G. HORTON
Date of Birth: 25 July 1983 Place of Birth: Mt. Airy, North Carolina Marital Status: Single
B.A. History, Radford University, Radford, Virginia 2005 M.A. History, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee 2007
Graduate Assistant, East Tennessee State University, College of Arts and Sciences, History Department 2005- 2007
30 September 2006 “David Hackett Fischer’s Philosophy of History” at the 2006 Tennessee Conference of Historians at the Nashville Public Library – Nashville, Tennessee. 20 October 2006 “The Unintended Consequences of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938” at the 2006 Ohio Valley History Conference at East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, Tennessee. 14 January 2007 “The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism in the Americas” at the 2007 UNC-Charlotte Graduate History Forum – Charlotte, North Carolina.
Phi Alpha Theta Pi Gamma Mu