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Confederates in the Tropics

Confederates in the Tropics: Charles Swett's Travelogue

Sharon Hartman Strom
Frederick Stirton Weaver
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Confederates in the Tropics
    Book Description:

    Charles Swett (1828-1910) was a prosperous Vicksburg merchant and small plantation owner who was reluctantly drawn into secession but then rallied behind the Confederate cause, serving with distinction in the Confederate Army. After the war some of Swett's peers from Mississippi and other southern states invited him to explore the possibility of settling in British Honduras or the Republic of Honduras.

    Confederates in the Tropicsuses Swett's 1868 travelogue to explore the motives of would-be Confederate migrants' fleeing defeat and Reconstruction in the United States South. The authors make a comparative analysis of Confederate communities in Latin America, and use Charles Swett's life to illustrate the travails and hopes of the period for both blacks and whites.

    Swett's diary is presented here in its entirety in a clear, accessible format, edited for contemporary readers. Swett's style, except for his passionate prefatory remarks, is a remarkably unsentimental, even scientific look at Belize and Honduras, more akin to a field report than a romantic travel account. In a final section, the authors suggest why the expatriate communities of white Southerners nearly always failed, and follow up on Swett's life in Mississippi in a way that sheds light on why disgruntled Confederates decided to remain in or eventually to return to the U.S. South.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-995-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-50)

    In 1868 Charles Swett, a forty-year-old former Confederate from Warren County, Mississippi, published a badly typeset pamphlet of his essay and travelogue,A Trip to British Honduras and to San Pedro, Republic of Honduras. Son of a Vicksburg hardware merchant and the owner of a small plantation about six miles east of Vicksburg, Swett owned seventeen slaves until emancipation, served as an officer in an artillery unit during the Civil War, and then participated in Mississippi politics as Reconstruction began.

    Charles Swett used the device of a day-by-day diary to describe a trip he had recently taken with “several friends...

    (pp. 51-110)

    As we have stated in “Prefatory Remarks” that we were opposed to emigration to Honduras, it may be necessary for us to say that we have, in the following account, given a description of what we saw, faithfully, and as far as possible without prejudice.

    It was our intention to publish “Prefatory Remarks” at the time the article was written, (October 7, 1867,) but we reserved it for publication in connection with what we should see in Honduras, which is done without altering a word, or the erasure of a single line.

    Warren Co., Miss.

    April, 1868. CHARLES SWETT


  6. Part III Community Failures, Black Migration, and Charles Swett after 1868
    (pp. 111-123)

    Overall, Charles Swett’s pamphlet gave good advice. The vast majority of the colonies created by former Confederates did not work out. We have described Vila Americana in Brazil, Toledo in British Honduras, and the Coleman family in Honduras. That is not much to show for the scale of many Confederates’ initial aspirations.

    Why was there such dramatic and unrelenting failure? There were some common structural features of the entire endeavor that condemned most of the colonies to failure. The two most important of the Confederates’ problems revolved around race and labor. But even apart from these issues, many of the...

  7. Appendix A Documents Concerning the Settlement of Medina, Honduras
    (pp. 124-135)
  8. Appendix B Facts, Figures, and Travel Tips
    (pp. 136-145)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 146-159)
  10. Selected References
    (pp. 160-164)
  11. Index
    (pp. 165-169)