Black Spaniards, Black Seminoles, African Americans, and Freedom

March 27, 2019

 

In the War of 1812, which could easily be called an “Indian” war, because of the defeat of the Creek Native Americans, known as the “Red Sticks,” American hegemony would force the native peoples westward and toward the last colonial competitor for “Indian” lands, the Spanish.  It would also be a time when most black people fought for the British and actually burned the White House down in a bid to become free. The “Red Stick” Creeks would seek sanctuary in the Florida swamplands and be called Seminoles. Their numbers would be reinforced by runaway blacks who saw Florida as a refuge against the horrors of American slavery. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi racists, armed as militias, would come to be concerned about growing black power in Florida.

          

Slave owning Americans would worry about the Spaniards in terms of their system of slavery. This system allowed blacks to win their freedom through “race mixing” or the acceptance of Catholicism.  Thus, free “Black Spaniards” existed in Florida as both African and Creek flooded into Florida. White racist attitudes would have been burning for years because of this. During this period, in May of 1814, the British utilized the situation between the “Red Sticks” and their war against the Americans by building a fort at the mouth of the Apalachicola River in northern Florida. The British organized Creeks and blacks for the war by providing arms and provisions against the advancing forces of racist kingpin Andrew Jackson. 

         

Free black people in 1683, built a settlement at St. Augustine while the Spanish were still in control of Florida. This settlement later became Fort Mose, which served as a lightening rod for slaves on the plantations of Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Though the fort would be destroyed , it was rebuilt and established a safe haven for runaway slaves. Because Florida remained on the British side when the 13 colonies went to war with England, Spain was allowed to repossess Florida thus allowing for a greater influx of slaves.  Thus, Fort Mose would serve as precedence for another fort that would come to be known as  “Fort Negro.” 

        

When the British captured Pensacola from the Spaniards during this time, people of color marched to Fort Negro with three groups: Spanish runaway slaves, American runaway slaves, and “Red Stick” Creeks. The British made an agreement with the Seminole chief, Bowlegs, and armed the inhabitants of the fort.  Because armed blacks were seen as a dangerous threat, slavers and their racist representative Andrew Jackson began to call the fort a “Negro Fort.”Perhaps no other area of colonial America presented such a threat to the single minded racist concepts of Anglo North American colonialism.  

       

 According to researcher Bruce Edward Twyman, using solid resource material, in his book “The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693-1845,” the situation in Florida became a real problem for slave owners in Georgia and other areas as blacks could escape American slavery and be free in Spanish Florida. Twyman adds that, “President Madison called a secret session of both houses of Congress. After 31 votes were taken, a resolution was passed that authorized President Madison to use military force to seize Florida.”  The method chosen was settler occupation, or what we can call colonialism. Slave owners used this method of bringing in racist settlers as a means of conquering territory. We need to think about the term “settler” in a way that shows it is meant to steal land whether it was done to Native Americans, blacks, or Palestinians in today’s world.

 

 

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