TO: Media of Belize, Central America
FROM: Donald Simmons, Jr. Ph.D.
(Please feel free to email me at [email protected].com if you have any questions)
DATE: May 26, 2001
THE CONFEDERATE SETTLEMENTS OF BELIZE
McFarland & Company of North Carolina has just released an insightful and provocative book, titled Confederate Settlements in British Honduras, that rescues from oblivion a little known episode in the history of Belize. Written by author and historian Donald C. Simmons, Jr., with foreword by William F. Winter, former Governor of Mississippi, the book tells the story of thousands of Confederate soldiers and sympathizers, most of whom were from Mississippi and Louisiana, who left the southern United States to seek exile in British Honduras during the American Civil War and immediately following the conflict. Evidence suggests that more Confederate soldiers went to British Honduras, presently known as Belize, than any other single site outside of the present-day United States.
“I am just pleased to have contributed to the written history of a country and people that I have come to know and love,” stated Dr. Simmons at the announcement of his book’s release.
“I could not have written a word without the assistance of the people of Belize and the Archives of Belize, and that is why I intend to personally deliver a copy of my book to the Belize Archives later this year.”
Dr. Simmons also expressed his willingness to speak to schools and organizations about his research during his upcoming visit to present his book to the Archives.
Confederate Settlements in British Honduras, is an in-depth look at the eleven settlements established by former Confederates--what lured them to Belize, what the trip from Pascagoula, New Orleans, and other southern United States ports was like, and what life was like for immigrants in New Richmond and the other settlements in the interior of the British colony. Also included are lists of arrivals at the hotels and passenger lists from ships that were important in identifying prominent Confederates who sought refuge in British Honduras. The final chapter of the book addresses reasons why Mississippians and Louisianans overwhelmingly chose to settle in British Honduras instead of Brazil, even though slavery had been abolished in British Honduras but was still practiced in Brazil.
“Most people in Belize were aware of the settlement near Punta Gorda,” states Dr. Simmons. “But I found very few who knew about the other settlements.”
Previous works by Dr. Donald Simmons, Jr. include the highly acclaimed Latin America and the Caribbean in Transition (Troy State University Press, 1995), which he co-edited with Dr. Robert Watson of University of Hawaii-Hilo. Dr. Simmons has served as a contributing author for numerous publications including The Historical Dictionary of the Modern Olympic Movement (Greenwood Press, 1996), Ready Reference: American Justice (Salem Press), and the Reader’s Guide to Women’s Studies (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998).
Dr. Simmons has served on the faculty of the College of St. Francis, East Mississippi Community College, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, and Troy State University. He has been a finalist for the Engalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and was the recipient of the Association of Third World Studies Presidential Award in 1997. He currently serves as assistant director of the Mississippi Humanities Council.