Saturday, 15 September 2007

Return of Colonists

In about 1868 John Savin, his wife and three children with a large number of families from NewYork, Pennsylvania and some of the southern states, led on by glittering promises of the agents of the Brazilian Colonization Society, assembled in New York and emigrated to Brazil. They were given to understand, on leaving for Brazil, that each man was to be presented, on his arrival at his destination, with a tract of land and a small house, and that all would be furnished with steady and renumerative employment.

After three weeks delay in Rio Janerio they were forwarded to the colony of St. Catherine, 150 miles from the city of that name. On reaching the end of their journey they found that no provision had been made for them and that all was a wilderness. The agents appointed by the Brazilian government to superintend the affairs of the colonists were employed at nine dollars a month, neglected their duties, gave very little labour to the colonists and so grossly mismanaged affairs that great want and suffering prevailed from the first establishment of the colony. It was useless to cultivate sugar cane or any other product for the market, as that was 150 miles distant, with no means of comunication, except by launches on a treacherous river, and as there was no employment to be had the colonists were reduced to the extremities of want.

Finally, after enduring their hopeless circumstances for two seasons, in which time many left for other parts of South America, most of the colonists abandoned the wilderness and set out for home. In coming down the river their launches were capsized, resulting in the loss of nearly all their baggage. On reaching St. Catherine's the American Consul procured transportation for them to Rio, Where, after some delay, they were placed by the Brazilian government on board the British steamer "Rakaia", chartered for the purpose, and sent to New York. They reached this city utterly destitute, and the Commissioners of Emigration declining to have anything to do with them, they gathered their bundles and boxes together and slowly dispersed. About fifty people are left at the colony in Brazil, who will leave as soon as possible.

Source: The NewYork Herald 23 Feb 1870

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