Portugal Decrees That Jewish And Dutch Settlers Have Three Months To Leave Brazil

According to the terms of the capitulation protocol of January 26, 1654, Portugal decreed that Jewish and Dutch settlers had three months to leave Brazil.

Approximately 150 Jewish families of Portuguese descent fled the Brazilian city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. By September, twenty-three of these refugees had established the first community of Jews in New Amsterdam.

Known as Sephardim (Jews of Spanish-Portuguese extraction), theirs was a complex saga. In December 1496, King Manuel I of Portugal decreed that all Jews leave Portugal by October 1497, causing many to flee to Holland where a climate of acceptance prevailed. From there, some migrated to Pernambuco, a colony of the Dutch West India Company in modern-day Brazil. The community flourished until the Dutch eventually surrendered Pernambuco to the Portuguese and the Sephardim were again forced to flee.

The Inquisition responded to the Jews' prosperity in Dutch Brazil angrily. The Jews were accused for turning in Brazilian property for the Dutch "heretics". They were accused for being the utmost responsibles for the Portuguese political disaster during the Dutch regime in Brazil. Also, the rapid growth of the Jewish population in Pernambuco worried the Portuguese Christians. They wrote a letter in 1637 to the government requesting the immediate suspension of Jewish migration to the Captaincy. They called for the expulsion of all Jews and even accused some four "infamous" Jews of plotting a revolt of slaves. Even before the Portuguese regained the Dutch lands, many limitations have been imposed on Jews, "banning intermarriage, the building of new synagogues or charging more than 3 percent interest on loans." After the Portuguese got back the Dutch lands, in 1654, Jews fled to many other places. The New Christians, however, mostly stayed in Brazil and moved to the countryside, particularly into the the area which is now the State of Paraiba, to avoid the re-activation of the Inquisition in Recife. Nonetheless, inquisitors arrested and condemned many of these New Christians living in Northeast Brazil. Among the Jews that fled to the Caribbean and North America, 24 Jews arrived to New Amsterdam, which later became New York City, becoming the first Jews to arrive in the United States.