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Brazil: US Confederates Find a Home


Brazil: US Confederates Find a Home

The Stanleys departed for Brazil on the rainy morning of April 6,
1876.
They left behind them
the bitterness of the Civil War and the
reconstruction. "God bless Dom Pedro," major Butler
exclaimed.
"He’s become the salvation for many of us—allowing us to get
away from the dictatorial
government at Washington City."

by:
Carlton
Jackson

Chapter One
On The Deep

Victoria Stanley leaned heavily against the ship’s railing and whispered to the sea, "I’m not going to be homesick."
She was only three days from Hilltop, her home in Alabama, but already it seemed several years from the life she’d had
there. She’d left countless boyfriends—after all, she was seventeen—but Bedford Jones of the Oak Leaves Plantation, just up
the river from New Orleans, was on board. Her family and his had been friends for many years.

She gazed at the deck of the Doubloon, crowded with mothers feeding their infants before their own meals, old men
and women lounging as comfortably as possible in the straw chairs trying to adjust to the roll of the ship and young
children scampering from deck to deck, protected from falling overboard by the wire mesh around the railings.

"Perhaps all of these—the voyage, people—are just a dream and I’ll soon wake up to the beauties of Hilltop, the
aroma of frying bacon and Mama Phillips calling me to breakfast."

The ship’s dinner gong, however, was very real. Mothers rushed hurriedly to put their babies in cribs; the ole ones
rose heavily from their chairs and the young clambered for the first seats in their section of the dining room.

Victoria was honored tonight, for she sat not only in the officers’ mess, but with Colonel Norris himself. Colonel
William Hutchinson Norris came from a proud and honored family in Alabama, and he more than anyone else took the lead in
southern colonization of Brazil after the War.

"Well young lady," said the Colonel as they sat down at the table, "you’re looking healthier today than when we left
New Orleans."

"Thank you Colonel. I’m getting used to the sea now. I walk better than I could two days ago."

"Yes." Norris furrowed his dark eyebrows, and stared straight at Victoria with his fiercely blue eyes, "This is my
sixth voyage to Brazil, and I know that the immigrants are homesick when they leave New Orleans, and then they get seasick.
But two or three days out and they come to life. You’ll be all right, young lady."

As they were speaking, Major Arthur Butler joined them at the Colonel’s table. Victoria sat silently and listened to
every word that these two former Confederates spoke.

"God bless Dom Pedro," Butler exclaimed. "He’s become the salvation for many of us—allowing us to get away
from the dictatorial government at Washington City." He raised his glass and proclaimed, "To Dom Pedro II, enlightened
emperor of Brazil!"

"Indeed" replied Norris. "He’s offering cheap land, or in some instances, free land, to any Southern emigrant who
wants to settle in Brazil, `The Land of Tomorrow.’ as it’s already being called. I’ve now led some 4,000 people to Brazil, and
I consider this to be the proudest accomplishment of my life. Southerners will resume ways of life to which they were
accustomed—with the camaradoes—either Negro or Indian—as servants—and we’ll all be happy."

But then a frown crossed Major Butler’s face.

"Perhaps you’ve heard, as I have," he said gravely to Colonel Norris, "that Dom Pedro is actually thinking of freeing
all his slaves. Surely he wouldn’t invite us here if he’s going to be another Lincoln."

"I don’t put much stock in rumor," Colonel Norris answered. "I’ve heard that story ever since I’ve been leading
colonists to Brazil—and that’s nigh on to ten years now."

Colonel Norris’s words were reassuring to Victoria. She’d had no choice about going to Brazil. Her parents had
made the decision and announced it to Victoria and to Ozell, her little brother.

When they’d been told her of their imminent departure, she’d protested.

"But, child, perhaps you don’t understand fully what’s happened. Lord knows we love Hilltop, but we can’t stay any longer."

The family stories told how her great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Stanley, had built Hilltop just north of
Montgomery, Alabama, amidst five hundred acres with meandering streams, and had planted a pecan orchard that in Victoria’s time
had grown to splendor.

"Some other people are staying," Victoria replied. "The Simpsons over at Knoll Creek—and Ernestine Thomas said
her Pa hadn’t decided yet, but probably he’d stay."

Elizabeth, Victoria’s mother, replied angrily, raising her voice.

"The Simpsons and Thomases! They’ve only been here thirty years or so. Not like the Stanley’s—we’ve been here
for over a hundred! Well before the Revolution, when Alabama was a part of Georgia! And now these Yankees come in
taking all our cotton and raising taxes on the property by as much as 200 percent during the ten years the war’s been over.
We’re not going to sell Hilltop, child. We’ll just keep praying to the Good Lord that the Northern government will someday
come to its senses. God has always ultimately answered our prayers and when He does, we might come back."

Then Elizabeth’s anger gave way to poignancy.

"Uncle Ezra was killed at Shilogh; then Uncle Ben—he fell with Jackson at Chancellorsville; then brother John at
Gettysburg; and your own Pa got his arm shot off defending Atlanta. And now the Yankees won’t even let Sambo and Octavia care
for the house; and if they knew Mama Phillips was still here cooking for us, why they’d put Pa in prison. Don’t you know
that, child?"

There was no way to overcome the appeals to family war-time suffering, so Victoria accepted her parents’ decision.

The family—Oliver, Elizabeth, Victoria and Ozell—Stanley departed for Brazil on the rainy morning of April 6,
l876. They left behind them—or so they thought—the bitterness of the Civil War and the congressional reconstruction that
followed. And a hysterically weeping Mama Phillips.

Chapter Two
Lieutenant Jones

Victoria was aware of his presence even before he stood at the railing beside her. Oddly, he was still wearing his
Confederate uniform, although the war had been over for slightly over a decade.

"Hello, Miss Victoria Stanley," he said jauntily. "I do hope you remember me. I am Lieutenant Bedford Jones, at
your service." He took off his hat and bowed to Victoria.

She giggled at his efforts of formality.

"Of course I remember you, Mr…that is, Lieutenant— Jones. I came with my father one time several years ago to
Oak Leaves and you and I played in that huge garden out in front of your house."

"Ah, of course! I recall the occasion. That’s when I broke my arm falling from that tree—you sure you didn’t push
me? Just kidding, of course. Your Pa, Dr. Stanley—and I was really pleased to speak to him earlier today—splinted it for
me, and he did such a good job that it’s been all right ever since." He added wistfully, "Those were happy days, weren’t
they, despite the broken arm?"

"I must’ve been only three or four at the time. The war had just started, I believe, and I’m seventeen now," Victoria
blurted out, and instantly regretted telling her age.

Bedford laughed. "That means I am some ten years your senior, Miss Stanley. Did you and your family join the
Doubloon at New Orleans or have you been here all the way from Montgomery?"

"Oh, New Orleans," she said in a matter of fact way, "but our home is in Montgomery. We came overland from
Montgomery to New Orleans to take the boat. My family and I come from Hilltop Plantation."

"I know Hilltop Plantation, or at least the fine quality of cotton that came from it. I’ve heard my Pa speak many
times about how Dr. Stanley’s produce stood out from all the rest he bought."

All of a sudden, Victoria changed the subject.

"May I be so bold as to ask why you are still wearing you uniform? I heard it is illegal to wear a Confederate uniform."

"Well, ah," he stuttered, groping for words. Then he answered, "Well, you see Ma’am, ah Victoria, I didn’t really
get into the war until the fall of Appomattox. Didn’t see much action until then. It hurts me to know that the only major
engagement I participated in saw my beloved Confederacy surrender. When I heard, at first, I just couldn’t fathom it. A trooper
came riding through the woods shouting that General Lee had surrendered to Grant. One of my fellows said, `You can’t mean
Robert E. Lee! Surely you mean Rooney, that other Lee!’ But the rider said `No, I mean Robert E. Lee.’

"Once we were convinced that it was true, the only thing to do was head for home. I took off my uniform and kept it
in my trunk until I boarded the Doubloon the other day. I mean to wear it as much as I can."

"Why?" asked an interested Victoria.

"Because the Brazilians have opened up their arms to us Confederates. We will live in peace among them, and I
think they’ll be interested in seeing a symbol of our glorious confederacy."

"The uniform though is a symbol of war not peace," Victoria retorted. "The Brazilians might fear it as much as they
value it."

"Maybe so, Ma’am," Bedford responded a bit irritably. "But am still going to keep it on, at least if there are any
special occasions I have to attend, such as meeting the emperor."

"Do you think you will?"

"Will what?"

"Meet the emperor."

"I wouldn’t be surprised. Not one bit."

Victoria changed the subject again.

"Did your family suffer during the war?" she asked softly.

"Our property was confiscated. While I was away, Pa died and I inherited Oak Leaves. By the time I got back
though the cursed Feds had taken it all, leaving me with nothing. I went out west for a few years, and then when I heard of
Colonel Norris’s colonization programs, I jumped at the chance for a new start."

A steward came up to Jones. "Message for you, Sir."

"Thank you. Excuse me, Victoria." He glanced hurriedly at the note, and a slight frown crossed his face. He looked
up at Victoria and said, "I hope you will excuse me, but I am called below for a conference. I want to continue our
conversation at a later time, Victoria—may I call you Vic?"

"You may call me Victoria," she said, frowning slightly.

The young Lieutenant bowed and took his leave.

For the next several minutes a light-hearted Victoria peered across the waters at the dim outline for the Dry Tortugas
while the moon cast slivers of light upon the waves, until her mother called her and she went below.

Chapter Three
Rio Bay

For the next several days Victoria waited expectantly for Lt. Jones to seek her out. But he failed to make his
appearance as promised. When she did see him, it was only at a distance. He was always in the company of a small group of men
who seemed to be engaged in serious talk.

The Doubloon steadily steamed its way to Rio de Janeiro. On the thirtieth day out of New Orleans, she heard excited
voices outside her cabin. When she went to the rail, she saw the sea had taken on a reddish caste. A sailor drew up a bucket of
water and showed it to her. It was liberally sprinkled with twigs.

"We’re nearing the mouth of the great Amazon," he said. "`Bout sixty miles."

She saw porpoises "dancing" through the rough waters, and black fish jumping in front of the ship, just as though
they were the official welcoming party for the Doubloon. She had, of course, seen porpoises before, but never in such
athletic and acrobatic mettle. Victoria thrilled at the sight.

As Victoria gazed at Rio bay, she was spellbound by the exquisite beauty of her new home. Silhouetted by the
silver moonlight, Sugarloaf Mountain rose majestically in the distance and as the land swept down toward the sun, Victoria
could even discern where the timberline ended and sparsely settled areas of houses began. The smaller foothills were dotted
with gas-lamps which marked the location of a number of villages. The soft breeze, the crashing of the Atlantic at her back,
the scent of sale water and sand all mingled together to create an image the young woman would never forget. A grand
beginning to a brand-new life.

The first thing on schedule, Victoria knew, was for Colonel Norris to give a speech to all the emigrants. Along with
the others, she listened intently:

"Brave Confederate men, women, and children!" he began. "You have now come a distance of fifty six hundred
miles—braving the hazards of the deep—to recapture a gentle life of charm and dignity.

"Alas for our native country! It is, sad to say, on the verge of anarchy! But you can forget all that—all the sufferings,
the loss, the indignity, and look forward to your new lives in this golden country of Brazil!

"As you know, the great emperor, Dom Pedro II wants us. Welcomes us. He desires our talents, our advanced way
of civilization. That is why he has been so generous in allotting inexpensive and in some cases, free, land to us. Once we
leave the ship, the head of each household should go at once to the Government Land Office where you will be given
information on which area you and your families will be granted land.

"Whether it be in the Doce, Santa Bárbara, Limeira, Rio Claro, Jundiaí, Pirassununga, Fazenda Funil, or Americana,
I know that each of you will put your heart into your work and new life. You will suffer hardships—all colonists have
suffered them—but you will experience new joys too, and, I am sure, thank God for His many blessings."

Chapter Four
Government House

Victoria sat in the chair and watched her father slowly fill out the multitude of forms in the Land Office and quietly
answer the questions put to him by the official. Oliver could purchase all the land he wanted. He had brought enough money
with him to buy five hundred acres of land. At two
réis a braça, as Victoria quickly figured it, the price was less than thirty
cents an acre, cheaper than anything the family had ever seen in America.

Victoria would never be able fully to comprehend the fierce pain and horror her father had experienced when he’d
lost his right arm. Although he seldom talked about the war, one story he had shared was this one: With the burning sun
blistering the buildings and grounds around the bombed-out Atlanta train station, Oliver had worked like a man possessed, trying
to save as many lives as possible. The air, clogged with dust and the cries of the dying, had seemed scarcely breathable and
the sound of bursting shells and rifle fire only added to the chaos.

It had been there, on what might’ve been a long, lazy summer’s afternoon had not the war interrupted their lives.
Oliver had bent over the body of a soldier and reached for the saw that would sever the boy’s arm. The lad’s eyes were wide as
he looked at the doctor and Oliver tried to soothe his panic with carefully chosen words.

He nodded once to his assistant who turned the young man’s face away from the shredded flesh of his arm, stuck a
stick between his teeth and instructed him to bite down hard. While the soldier was momentarily distracted, Oliver cut
quickly, knowing that after the initial impulse to jerk away, the boy would pass out from the pain.

But he never got to finish his job.

A shell, fired from one of Sherman’s many cannon positioned all around the ruined city, whistled through the sultry
air and burst, scattering red hot fragments of shrapnel in every direction. One particularly large piece sliced clean through
Oliver’s cutting arm. As he fell toward the dusty ground, his last thoughts were for the boy.

Now, as Victoria watched her father struggle to sign the papers put before him by the land official, she felt a surge of
love and pride.

Victoria remembered how desperately her father had tried to keep up his medical practice back at Hilltop, and also
to restore its cotton growing capacity to what it had been before the war. But with his lost arm and new government, his
spirits were finally broken. Victoria gazed around the room, and considered that Oliver’s act in coming to Brazil was one of
bravery—not of cowardice, as some had said.

"Senhor Stanley," the land office official said in heavily accented English. "Your total allotment comes to five
hundred acres. Since this is purchased through a special offer from the Brazilian government, you understand that we maintain
the right to assign you wherever we think desirable and necessary?"

"Yes, I understand."

The official nodded. "You and your family will go to the Rio Doce area, above Linhares, in the State of Espírito
Santo, to a village called Juparaná. American settlement there has not been as rapid as in other colonies, and we do not wish
the imbalance to continue. The area, though quite beautiful, is more rugged than others. But with patience and perseverance,
we are sure you will succeed. Here is your authorization for claiming your land. Just show it to the
fazendeiro upon arrival." He paused and looked at the paper before continuing. "You say here that you wish to resume your practice of medicine."

"Yes. Once I’ve got my family settled on the plantation, I intend to come back to Rio Bay and set up a practice."

"Senhor," the agent said, tactfully looking at the place where Oliver’s right arm should have been. "You think you
can do it?"

"I can still diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications. I’ve still got my brain,
Senhor, and that’s the most important thing for a doctor. Besides, my funds are getting low and we can’t depend on the plantation making us a living yet."

"Well, it is agreed," said the government man. "Your area of settlement is approximately three hundred miles north
of Rio Bay. You will wait here at Government House until transportation is provided for you and your family."

Preparing for the trip to the Doce, memories of Hilltop began to fade into the background. The promise and
fascination of a new life in a new country began to thrill Victoria.

I am an early American colonist, she fantasized. Today I am Anne Bradstreet, writing a poem about early
Massachusetts. Tomorrow I will be Pocahontas, seeing to the needs of my husband, John Rolfe. Victoria had always liked to write, and
she sensed that her new life in Brazil would give her bountiful opportunities to put pen on paper.

What will we encounter on the way to the Doce? she wondered. Will we face as many hazards as our own early
American colonists did? Probably so, she answered herself and was not in the least troubled by it. Maybe they would traverse
crocodile infested streams, run out of drinking water, experience floods, and even meet man-eating natives—there was a surge of
daring, competition, and hope. Despite still missing Hilltop, she began to look forward to the dangers and trials on the way to
the Doce.

On the eve of the family’s journey to the Doce, Victoria sat in the swing on the wide veranda of Government House.
As she swayed gently back and forth, listening to the nightlife around her—primarily crickets chirping and frogs in a
near-by pond croaking_she had company. It was "Lieutenant" Bedford Jones.

"Well, Victoria," he said jauntily, sitting down beside her, "so you’re leaving tomorrow and I’ll never see you again,
I guess."

"Aren’t you colonizing yourself, Bedford? Where did they assign you?"

"Oh, I’m staying here in Rio Bay. I’ve got business to conduct here in the city, and elsewhere throughout the country."

Victoria stifled an impulse to ask him what kind of business.

"Later on, though, I will be coming up to Linhares to the jousting tournament."

"Jousting tournament? I haven’t heard of that."

"As I understand, the American community in this part of Brazil sponsors a medieval jousting tournament every year
at Linhares. People come hundreds of miles, either to participate or observe."

"Why does the American community do that?" asked Victoria, quite interested.

"To represent our old ways of life in the American South. You know we were the closest personification to medieval
chivalry to be found anywhere on the North American continent until the Yankees ruined it."

"Oh yes," Victoria said somewhat sarcastically, "we were full of knights and maidens, weren’t we?"

Ignoring her disparagement, Bedford said, "the tournament will be in six months or so, and I want to see you there."

"Why?"

"I’ve grown fond of you."

Bedford, as though quite embarrassed by what he had just blurted out, left the verandah before Victoria could
respond to his statement.

These are excerpts from the unpublished book
Window on the Wood – A Novel about Brazil

 

My name is Carlton Jackson. I am a University Distinguished Professor of History (that’s my official title) at
Western KY University in Bowling Green. I have 19 previous books, two of them novels. My books include
Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel, Allied Secret: The Sinking of HMT
Rohna, and Kentucky Outlaw Man. I can be reached at 270-526-6045 (home) and 270-745-5730 (off). My fax is 270-745-2950. I would be pleased to
send the entire manuscript to any publisher who would seriously want to consider it. It is 224 pages long, and about 70,000
words. I would deeply appreciate any feedback that readers might have.

My Email is
carlton.jackson@wku.edu  and also
bedamahi@bellsouth.net

 

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