What’s A Confederate to Do?


Last week, we attended the Confederate Festival in Santa Barbara Oeste.

I mean, really, how could we not? While I don’t claim any Confederate loyalty, nor do I believe my ancestors were among those that hung around the South, a small town Northwest of São Paulo that was going to be celebrating the losing side of the American Civil War was something I had to see. And I was not disappointed.

Many might be surprised to discover that a group of Confederates fled the States after the war and headed to the state of SP. They settled in Santa Barbara Oeste, eventually forming their own city called Vila dos Americanos (Village of the Americans), which eventually became the municipality of Americana. With them, they brought their cotton weaving skills and developed a textile industry in the area.

How nice, you might think, as you walk through the festival admiring all the transplanted patriotism.

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That is, until you run the timeline through your head and realize that the Confederates didn’t come to this country for the caipirinhas. They came for the slavery, which was still legal in Brazil at the time, and which apparently they greatly missed.

The festival was held adjacent to the Confederate cemetery, which was filled with familiar surnames and many freemasonry markings.

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Had I acknowledged the actual event slogan…


…I might have hesitated in attending. Was the encouragement of the local to stop hating a recent campaign? Was everyone really on board? Did they really know the difference between a Confederate and a Yankee? Or those of us midwesterners who fall somewhere in between? However, I’m glad I hadn’t been discouraged. For despite the typical Brazilian chaos, which included waiting in line for 2 hours for fried chicken (I did not do this), or waiting in line for 30 minutes for a hot dog only to discover they had run out (I did do this), plus no parking plan…


… it was a pleasantly surreal event. Especially because of the curious amount of kilts in the crowd:


And the sudden appearance of a drone.


I definitely plan to hit up their Museum of Immigration and the city of Americana sometime in the near future.

As usual, you never know what you are going to find on a Brazilian adventure.


Gallery | This entry was posted in Brazilliant, Crazy Adventures, Culture Conflicts, Expatriate Info & Advice, Foreigner Insights, Living in Sao Paulo, Tourist Info, Travel, What the h*ll is that? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to What’s A Confederate to Do?

  1. Malvina says:

    hah. this is crazy! you can’t be too surprised at the Brazilians overlooking the underpinnings of confederism–heck, how many Americans conveniently forget it was all built upon slavery? Love the kilts.

  2. Ray says:

    The Museum of the American immigration is definitely worth a visit. You will learn about things these Americans brought into Brazilian culture such as watermelons, corn bread, and fried chicken! I haven’t visited the festival yet, but plan to do it some of these days! How cool that you guys made it!! Thanks for sharing your awesome pictures and experience!!


  3. tropicalsmog says:

    This is so bizarre and disturbing. I remember seeing a truck here in Sampa with a Confederate flag sticker and was utterly bewildered.

    • HA. Well, now you know why. But do the locals really know why?

      • C.W. Roden says:

        Having met a good many of those same locals I certainly believe they do and that they take pride in the positive aspects of that heritage. They do not forget slavery or the negatives, but like their American-Southern cousins, they do not choose to let those negatives define the whole.
        Sadly there are far too many in the US of A that still believe that the negatives of certain aspects of history outweigh the good qualities and virtues of that same heritage.
        I believe in telling the full truth, the negatives as well as the positives and not stereotyping people based on their views.
        In this case I suppose its hard to stereotype people who are mixed-blooded who honor Confederate heritage….of course I guess its good enough for you to claim they’re ignorant of all its aspects.

        • I didn’t claim anything, just wondering. Different.

        • SHN says:

          sorry but this is crap–
          positive celebration of the Confederacy is equivalent to positive celebration of Nazi Germany.
          It was a backward feudal economy based on slavery and a huge majority of poor white serfs–led by a tiny TINY super-rich dictatorial brutal elite.
          Confederates were terrorists who conducted terror campaigns in the North and plotted to assassinate Lincoln–which they succeeded in doing.
          Your post is pathetic.

          • I get your nazi comparison. We were discussing the same while we were there.

          • Levi says:

            Nothing in your post is remotely true.

          • Really? I do have photo evidence that the event took place. Not sure what your debate is…

          • William Shelton says:

            I find your post disturbing for a variety of reasons.

            1) In the early 90s, while living in Sampa, I spent a lot of time with these folks. I’ve read (and have on hand) most of the books and magazine articles written (in both English and Portuguese) about the original Confederate immigrants and how they adapted to and became part of their new country, without forgetting where their families originated. We allow everyone else the right to celebrate where they came from and their culture. Why would we object to these people doing so?

            2) I am a Southerner. Our history and culture are not summed up by — and, consequently, cannot be summarily dismissed because of one word: slavery. Does the South — and the US, as a whole — still have to reckon with the true history and legacy of slavery. Absolutely, but that is not all we are. Besides, the fried chicken and the biscuits served at this festival are the best I’ve ever had outside the South…

            3) When you talk to these people and ask them about racism and the supposed racist connotation of the Confederate flag, you will initially get a quizzical look. They simply do not understand the question because it has no relationship to their thinking. Those who ask it have brought their cultural understanding, right or wrong, from the United States and have applied it to a group that has fully integrated itself into Brazil. These people consider themselves Southerners and Brazilians. We, those from north of the Equator, are the ones who can’t wrap our heads around the idea that you can simultaneously be two things, from two cultures, and celebrate and honor them both. Brazilians have no problem with that.

            4). I am descended from a large number of Confederate soldiers (and a few Union soldiers). I have researched their lives and grew up hearing their stories, as passed down by their children and grandchildren. The stories I have heard told at the Country Cemetery, where this event is held, are the same stories I heard growing up — and the tellers often spoke the same English that I do. (When I was hanging out there, many of the grandchildren of the original immigrants were still living, including Judith McKnight, who you should learn about.) We have all moved on since the 1860s. You seem unable to grasp that.

            5) Your knowledge of history – with your claims about Nazism, terrorism and such – seems to be lacking. It also smacks of the same hysteria and lack of understanding that we hear so often today in the US regarding the so-called “war on terror” and heard during the Cold War regarding the “Reds”. (I’m old enough to remember that very well. History does have a way of repeating itself. That includes the cycles of fear-baiting so frequent in US history.)

            6) Although I haven’t been to this festival for many years, I recently returned to Brazil to live. I was unable to go to the festival this year, the first held since 2011 for a variety of reasons, I certainly plan on going next year. I feel at home there, among those people. I would suggest that you go and get to know them before condemning them again. It is obvious you have no idea who those people really are. You are lumping them into a baseless and meaningless stereotype. You should know better.

  4. Despite the extremely unsavory issue of slavery it is interesting and ironic that settlers of Americana stopped engaging in it upon noticing that paid labor was actually more cost-beneficial that owning a slave in Brazil. Regardless, slavery is a blemish that will forever tarnish the “new world” methinks. On a positive note the confederados insisted on educating all women of their community, nonwithstanding social strata. I think they were the first group to espouse this attitude Rita Lee (artist – born: Rita Lee Jones)) and Ellen Northfleet (former Brazilian Supreme Court Judge being the first female to be appointed and to later preside said court) are both of confederado origin. Great post btw, shame about the fried chicken line though.

  5. Off topic: why do so many women dig men in quilts? Not that I think it´s wrong for men to wear them (so don´t accuse me of being anti-quilt dear haters) but I just don´t understand the female fascinating toward the attire.

  6. William Shelton says:

    Thank you for writing this. I planned on going this year but was unable to do so. (I won’t get very verbose here, as I was rather long-winded responding to another post above.) For anyone who is interested in the history of this group, I have a lot of material on them, much of which is out of print. Everyone should try this festival at least once, given the opportunity.

    • You are welcome. History is history people. Culture is culture. Let’s face it – at various points in time, our ancestors were both barbarians and victims. You’ll find it if you look far enough back, or pay attention to current events. I poke fun at this a bit because it is rather surreal for me, as an American, to stumble upon this celebration and think about the events that brought these people to Brazil. But all the locals in attendance and in performance were super nice and certainly enjoying themselves. No one was asking to bring slavery back. Nor were they looking to obtain white serfs. It is what it is. Heritage not hate.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to write about the event. I am a civil war history buff who lived in SP for about 4 years.. When I read of this place’s existence, I had to visit. So, with my then Brazilian girlfriend (and now wife), we headed to Santa Barbara even though most of our friends in SP city thought we were crazy. While no festival then was taking place, for historical reasons, I am glad we made the trip. As all students of the Civil War know well, and thinking more about these Brazilian confederates, the conflict did indeed provide a bountiful supply of colorful characters which no casting director could have ever conceived.

  8. Gentlemen, some years ago I went to Americana-Santa Barbara. I talked to the Associaçao (Confederada) and to the Sons of Confederate Veterans there. I pronounced a speech at the gathering they perform every 3 months in the Museum of Santa Barbara (Casa da Memoria). They invited me to their homes, and weeks later I attended their annual Confederate celebration at Cemeterio do Campo. I read everything on the Confederates in Brazil, in English and in Portuguese, then I wrote an essay that was published by our nationalist political organisation, the League of the South, and very acclaimed. My conclusion was that these men in Brazil are doing excellent labour for preservation of our Heritage, but being descendants of 4th or 5th generation, they are not as involved as we are in the current fight for Independence of the Confederate States of America, and the consumation of our secession from a foreign invader that has occupied our nation for the last 149 years. Dixieland for ever !

    • Anderson Gusmão says:

      Hi CSS Dixieland! This is Mr. Anderson. I am trying to contact you by your e-mail, but i have no success, a unreachable message is going back. Please, send me e-mail.

  9. amaharini says:

    Reblogged this on Modern Nomadic and commented:
    This is crazyyyy to see actual pictures of the place and events, incredible!

  10. Pingback: Confederate Families Exit The U.S. To Colonize Brazil | Charlie R. Claywell

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