The Southern Exodus to Mexico


The Southern Exodus to Mexico

Migration across the Borderlands after the American Civil War

Todd W. Wahlstrom

Borderlands and Transcultural Studies Series

232 pages
8 images, 1 map, 2 tables, index


March 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart

September 2020


$25.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2015


$25.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2015


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About the Book

After the Civil War, a handful of former Confederate leaders joined forces with the Mexican emperor Maximilian von Hapsburg to colonize Mexico with former American slaveholders. Their plan was to develop commercial agriculture in the Mexican state of Coahuila under the guidance of former slaveholders with former slaves providing the bulk of the labor force. By developing these new centers of agricultural production and commercial exchange, the Mexican government hoped to open up new markets and, by extending the few already-existing railroads in the region, also spur further development.
The Southern Exodus to Mexico considers the experiences of both white southern elites and common white and black southern farmers and laborers who moved to Mexico during this period. Todd W. Wahlstrom examines in particular how the endemic warfare, raids, and violence along the borderlands of Texas and Coahuila affected the colonization effort. Ultimately, Native groups such as the Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, and Kickapoos, along with local Mexicans, prevented southern colonies from taking hold in the region, where local tradition and careful balances of power negotiated over centuries held more sway than large nationalistic or economic forces. This study of the transcultural tensions and conflicts in this region provides new perspectives for the historical assessment of this period of Mexican and American history.

Author Bio

Todd W. Wahlstrom is a visiting assistant professor of history in Seaver College at Pepperdine University.


"A welcome contribution to the lately growing scholarship on the Confederate-exile experience that is excellently grounded in historiography."—Robert May, American Historical Review

“A well-researched study of the people, events, and ideas surrounding Confederate migration and colonization efforts in Mexico.”—C. L. Sinclair, Choice

“Should be included in any conversation about the global dimensions of southern history.”—John Mckiernan-González, Journal of Southern History

"This is an important book, and it deserves a place on reading lists for graduate seminars and Civil War enthusiasts alike. Indeed, not only does Wahlstrom add a great deal to the historiographical discussion in Civil War history, but his work also serves as a significant contribution to Southern, emancipation, and borderlands history."—Matthew M. Stith, Civil War Book Review

The Southern Exodus to Mexico is an intervention in borderlands history, in black-white-Indian history, in migration history, in economic history, and in the history of national, class, and racial identities. It is also that rare and wonderful kind of historical writing: a tale of roads not taken, of dreams not quite fulfilled. Even though most of the migrants did not achieve all that they had hoped, there is much for us to learn from their ventures. Wahlstrom shows us a dynamic borderland and the peoples who traversed it.”—Paul Spickard, author of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables    
1. Migration across the Borderlands after the American Civil War    
2. White and Black Southerners Migrate to Mexico after the American Civil War    
3. Southern Colonization and the Texas-Coahuila Borderlands    
4. Southern Colonization and the Fall of the Mexican Empire, 1866–67    
5. Southern Colonization, Railroads, and U.S. and Mexican Modernization        
Conclusion: Regions and Nations    

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