The Black Seminole

The role that slavery played in the Seminole War cannot be overstated. Before the Seminole War, slavery had been abolished in Spanish Florida and the territory was a safe haven for runaway slaves. Many black refugees and free blacks found themselves in Florida and allied with the Seminole against their common enemy – the white man. Some of them joined with the Seminole tribes voluntarily; some had come to Florida purchased by the Seminole as slaves; and others formed their own communities near the Seminole. Many of them, having worked on plantations, were skilled at planting and caring for crops and livestock so they had obvious value to the Seminole. As a community, these blacks were known as maroons – a term that describes free and quasi-free blacks who escaped to the frontier to create their own societies. The Black Seminole were by far the most extensive maroon community in North America.


Many blacks, and some Seminole, took refuge at or near the “Negro Fort,” an abandoned settlement and military installation along the Apalachicola River that had been left in their hands by the British several years after the conclusion of the War of 1812. Amidst complaints from southern slaveowners and the pressure from General Andrew Jackson, the Spanish Governor of Florida authorized the destruction of the fort by U.S. forces and their allies, the Creeks. The Battle of Negro Fort was the first major engagement of the Seminole Wars Period and Andrew Jackson’s conquest of Florida. It was destroyed when a cannonball was fired into the powder magazine, creating an explosion that destroyed the entire fort.

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