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Confederados forge new cultural identity
Another wrote, “The war worn soldier, the bereaved parent, the oppressed patriot, the homeless and despoiled, can find refuge from the trials which beset them, and a home not haunted by the eternal remembrance of harrowing scenes of sorrow and death.” Although slavery still existed in Brazil at the time, the great majority of Southerners who emigrated were pleased simply to have found comfortable new homes.
They became known as Confederados and quickly gained a reputation for honesty and hard work. They adapted and set up communities, including those known today as Americana and Florida. Those communities have frequent gatherings and celebrations, including some in which women dress in antebellum gowns and men in gray uniforms similar to the type worn by their ancestors.
Many Brazilians still carry names such as Lee, Jefferson and Washington. The Confederados learned Portuguese but often continued to speak English at home and at gatherings with other emigres. Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter visited in 1972; both he and his press secretary remarked how the Confederados sounded and seemed just like Southerners.
c Paul N. Herbert is the President of the Historical Society of Fairfax County and author of “God Knows All Your Names.”
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