Leaving the United States for the "land of liberty" : postbellum confederates in Mexico
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At the end of the US Civil War, thousands of former Confederates refused to live in a Reconstructed South, packed up their belongings, and left the country. The vast majority of these Southerners went to Mexico, Brazil and British Honduras. This thesis focuses on a settlement of Confederate families in Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico. By studying one settlement in depth, I demonstrate that the migrants were not all economic refugees or war refugees who uniformly returned to the United States. Instead, it shows the complex ideologies that prompted the creation of the settlement and promoted its development. The efforts of the settlers hinged heavily on race, making the settlement an important place to examine the way that race is created and utilized internationally. Accustomed to framing themselves as white in opposition to US blacks, the Southerners in Mexico had to reconstruct their whiteness in opposition their non-white Mexican neighbors. At the same time, they shaped an exoticized form of whiteness for their “Spanish” Mexican neighbors in order to prove to their friends and family in the United States that Mexico was a sufficiently civilized place.