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Return to Alabama – Dissatisfied Emigrants to Brazil

August 10, 1867

There arrived at the Central Hotel last night a party of ladies and gentlemen who left Brazil last month, thoroughly, totally, heartily disgusted with their new homes among the hybrid masses in the overrated, well-flattered country of Brazil.  The party is composed entirely of Alabamians, among whom are MESSRS. JOHM M. HARRIS, W. J. DeBERRY, G. E. JONES, THOMAS McCANTS, T. A. McELROY, JOHN STANFIELD, D. W. BRAZIELL, and eighteen other gentlemen and their wives and children. They give affecting and pitiful accounts of the sufferings of many hundreds of deluded Southerners who were lured away from their friends by the tempting offers of the Brazilian Government, and the tales of wild and impulsive American adventurers.


They represent that there is no regularly organized Government in Brazil–there is no society–but little cultivation among the inhabitants–no laudable ambition–no ways of making money–the people scarcely know the meaning of the word “kindness”– the American citizens live about in huts, uncared for–there is general dissatisfaction among the emigrants, and the whole Brazil representation is a humbug and a farce. The American Consul is in receipt of numerous and constant applications from helpless American citizens to assist them in getting back to their true, rightful country. CAPT. JACK PHELAN, who is so well known and admired in Montgomery, has, we learn, left with a large number of other young men, to make California their home.  The advice of the gentlemen with whom we conversed is to dissipate the idea that Alabama is not still a great country – to cause dreaming over the unhappy past–say nothing that will assist to keep up political troubles, stay at home, but work, work, work, and Alabama will yet be, what she ought to be, and can be, a great and glorious country.

The long-deferred abolition of slavery in Brazil is to be hastened. A recent law releases all slaves after two years, and they are to receive wages during this period.  Brazil is the last country laying claim to civilization that still maintains slavery.  It is not sixty years since slavery was abolished in the British colonies, and less than half that time since this country rid itself of the evil.


New York Times, Aug. 15, 1867

Reprinted in the The South Alabamian, Jackson, Alabama, October 1, 1887

From :

The McCants Letters


....John McCants and his brother, Thomas, came from South Carolina from the Darlington District about the year 1800 and settled in the lower edge of Wilcox County on the land now occupied by Mr. Daniel J. McCarty, a ruling elder in this church. At this time John McCants had a son, Thomas, who was about four years of age, destined late to be a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian church for a year. Near their home in or before the year 1816 a hewn log house was built for a church,in which they worshiped until about the year 1819. Probably in the year 1819 a discussion arose as to the ownership of the ground on which the log church was erected, originally settled by Thomas McCants, Sr., which was not legally entered by him. A neighbor, Peter McArthur, procured government titles to the property and thus brought on a dispute. Tradition states that the church session met to determine the true ownership of the land where upon Peter McArthur secured his claim. This judgment so angered Thomas McCants that he withdrew from the Presbyterian Church and united with the Methodist Church......

.....There were eighteen members in the reorganized body, with Dr. William Jenkins, Mr. Thomas McCants and Mr. David H Packer as Ruling Elders.....

.....As the old church records up to 1888 were burned, probably in the old Hunt Hotel in Brewton, Alabama, these items of history are necessarily pieced together from tradition and the records of South Alabama Presbytery. It appears that Archibald McDuffie, grandfather of Hon. John McDuffie, Congressman from the First District of Alabama, was one of the Elders during the war period along with Thomas McCants, William Jenkins and David H. Packer. Mr. David H. Packer married Miss Mary McNeill, a school teacher. The school fund was in debt to Miss McNeill for services. As the Magnolia Academy was about to be sold for mortgage on this account Mr. Thomas McCants took up the debt. When he sold out to go to Brazil, like so many others Southerners, disheartened from the ruin of the South, he deeded the property to the Presbyterian Church. The ceremony of receiving the property was public, Rev. Paul C. Morton, noted evangelist, conducted the dedication service......

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