Tuesday, November 11, 2008

History Making Florida

With the all excitement over Barack Obama playing out across the nation, here in Florida I'm reminded that our state has played a pivotal role in history as it pertains to African Americans. That's right, I'm talking about Fort Mose.

Fort Mose was the first free African American settlement in America. Today, it is a National Historical landmark on the Florida Black Heritage Trail. You can find it (if you're lucky) just north of St. Augustine. It's not very well marked.

More than a century before the Emancipation Proclamation, British slaves were granted freedom in Florida . . . if they proclaimed their allegiance to the Spanish and the Catholic church (yea, that's right, there was a catch). In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered Fort Mose as a settlement for freed Africans. The settlement, located in the Florida marshland north of the Spanish fort, the Castillo San Marcos, was home to 100 free African Americans (or would that be African-Spanish-Floridians?) who grew their own food, built homes and joined the Spanish in defending their freedom from British invasion.

And you thought we were just a battleground state!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was really interesting - I didn't know this about St. Augustine -- fascinating.

On a similiar topic, I read a great book a few years back about Anna Kingsley - read it if you get the chance - "Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner." Wow. Talk about making the best of your circumstances - Anna Kingsley kicked ass.

--This is Lliba, I'm too lazy to look up my password.