Gad Humphreys

As an Indian Agent, Colonel Gad Humphreys was an individual authorized to interact with Native American tribes on behalf of the U.S. government. Congress maintained a position of accountability for the protection of Indians from non-Indians. An Indian Agent’s job was to prevent conflicts between settlers and Indians, monitor and report violations of the law, and maintain cooperation with the U.S. Army. They were also responsible for distributing money or goods from the federal government to tribes and coordinating the relocation of tribes to the reservation.

In May of 1822, Colonel Gad Humphreys was appointed agent to the Florida Indians. He was not the first Indian Agent in the Florida territory; however, he was the first to receive a permanent Indian Agent position and his later assignment to the Agency near Fort King is relevant. 

He arrived in Florida, fresh from military service and ready to assume the role as Indian Agent responsible for negotiating hostilities between Indians and settlers. During his service, he would often find himself entangled in the politics of slave claims and frequently found himself at odds with his superiors who did not share his position that the Seminole could be rightful owners of slaves. Slavery was in fact a key component in the Seminole Wars and slave disputes became a bitter power struggle that would eventually incapacitate the Indian Agency and ultimately cause Colonel Humphreys to be removed from his post in 1830. 

Colonel Humphrey’s Indian Agency was positioned on the edge of the Indian reservation in present day Ocala. Shortly after the Agency house was constructed, and after much convincing by the Florida Governor, General Duncan Clinch recognized the need for a military presence in the area and ordered the construction of the nearby “Cantonment King” in 1827. This later came to be Fort King.

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