Rebellion FAQ: 1693 - present     
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spacer Overview > Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

spacer Who were the Black Seminoles?

Map of Black Seminole history spacer
You can also get an overview of Black Seminole history from this interactive map of their 19th-century odyssey. spacer
The Black Seminoles were free blacks and fugitive slaves who forged a strategic alliance with Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida during the early 1800s.[1] Their ancestors reached Florida through a variety of means, such as escape from American plantations, liberation by Spanish masters, and possibly escapes from early slave ships or exploring parties. While some individual Black Seminoles were fugitive slaves, as a community, they were known as maroons -- a term that describes free and quasi-free blacks who escaped to the wilderness in the New World to create their own societies. Maroon communities were found all over the New World, especially in Brazil and the Caribbean. The Black Seminoles were by far the most extensive maroon community in North America.[2]

"Black Seminoles" is a 20th-century term. We have no idea how the rebels described themselves in the 1800s, although outsiders used a variety of names -- maroons, Seminole Negroes, Indian Negroes, and, in the memorable phrase of one Revolutionary-era American general, "the Exiles of America."[3] In the 1850s, when the maroons relocated to Mexico, they adopted the name mascogos, a Spanish term that appeared to refer to their Muskogee-Creek origins in the Southeast. On their return to the U.S. in the 1870s, the group became known as Seminole Negroes but were sometimes called Seminoles or even Seminole Indians. Descendants today continue to use different names for themselves, but a majority of English-speakers have settled on Black Seminoles, the term adopted by modern historians.[4]

Despite the name, not all members of the community were traditionally allied with Seminole Indians. Out west and even in Florida, the community absorbed former slaves of the Creek and Cherokee Indians along with black refugees from a variety of circumstances. In Mexico over the last century, the mascogos intermarried with local residents, creating a diverse contemporary population.

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Were they Indians?

Yes and no, depending on how one defines the term. This question has a straightforward answer, based on nineteenth-century definitions, and no definitive answer at all, based on contemporary definitions.

First, the straightforward answer: In the nineteenth century, were the Black Seminoles considered Indians or negroes?

In the nineteenth century, the Black Seminoles were considered negroes, since they were primarily descendants of free blacks and fugitive slaves.

Under the prevailing customs of North America, they were considered negroes in the nineteenth century, African Americans today. This was (and is) an external definition of their ethnic identity, as opposed to the internal definition adopted by members of the community then or now. Some members of the Black Seminole community might have disputed this classification in the nineteenth century, and would now. This is often the case with external ethnic classifications. (See the answer to the next question for more on this.)

Historically, though they were identified with Seminole Indians, the Black Seminoles formed a distinct community within the Seminole confederation. That they were not considered Native Americans was made plain during the First and Second Seminole Wars (1817-18, 1835-42), when American slaveholders sought to reduce the "Seminole negroes" to chattel slavery, an honor that was not bestowed on the Indians.[5]

Legally, the group has never been officially recognized as a Native American community. Legal complications relating to their ethnicity have plagued the Black Seminoles throughout their history and continue to cause problems in Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico.[6]

The story of these legal complications leads to the more complex question of their ethnic identity today, Indians or not Indians?

Today, the Black Seminoles are sometimes described—and sometimes describe themselves—as black Indians. The concept of black Indians has historical roots in early America and was adopted by individual Black Seminoles (who often just called themselves "Seminoles") and others throughout the twentieth century. Among older Black Seminoles, for example, there remains a strong traditional sense of not being "African American." The concept of black Indianness is rooted in the historical reality that some African Americans and Native Americans intermarried, also—and this is more problematic historically—in the belief that some Africans were present on the North American continent before the arrival of Columbus.

When applied currently in the Seminole case, the concept has given rise to a major controversy over whether or not the Oklahoma Black Seminoles (known as the Seminole Freedmen) are culturally or legally members of the Seminole tribe. Intercommunal debates over Seminoleness have surfaced periodically in Oklahoma since the mid-nineteenth century.

The current wrangling has a new edge, however, since 2002, when the federal government awarded a $56 million settlement to the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. This settlement has clouded the already complex historic questions of cultural, legal, and ethnic membership in the tribe.

The basis for inclusion of the Black Seminoles as Seminoles or Seminole Indians is primarily due to several factors: the occasional historical incidence of intermarriage between blacks and Indians; the Black Seminoles’ adoption of Seminole cultural practices; and, perhaps most importantly of all, the ongoing political and social participation of Black Seminoles in the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Based on these factors, and on modern anthropological definitions of ethnicity, there is no reason not to accept individual Black Seminoles' self-identifications as black Indians today, or Seminoles. Ultimately, deciding these questions falls to individual ethnic groups and government agencies, parties that are by no means certain to agree; definitions of ethnicity, particularly thorny ones like the Black Seminole-Seminole question, are often issues that no one can settle definitively. In the Oklahoma debate over the $56 million settlement, different political players advance different claims; the courts have reached a procedural decision, and future courts could conceivably even rule on the definition of tribal status. And yet such judgments are legal and procedural, not the basis of true ethnicity.

Recently, DNA analysis has been brought to bear on the question, with some on both sides of the issue seeking DNA evidence as a basis for establishing Seminole status. This is a very unfortunate turn. Anthropologists long ago realized that ethnicity is never a strictly biological form of identity. Strict biological definitions of ethnicity are in fact more properly associated with eugenics and racism than with the subtleties of ethnic identity. Osceola, the most famous Seminole Indian chief in history, appears to have been predominantly Anglo-Saxon in his "blood" or alleged biology, and yet none would deny his Seminoleness.

It could be viewed as unfortunate that some Seminole Indians today who gladly embrace the heritage and political legacy of Osceola, and whose community benefited historically from the military actions of Black Seminoles like John Horse, now seek to use pseudo-biological evidence to deny Seminole Freedmen access to a major financial settlement. It could be viewed as equally sad that some individual Black Seminoles seek inclusion in the settlement for themselves (and implicitly, exclusion for others) on the basis of the same psuedo-biological evidence.

The dispute could also be viewed as just another instance of the ongoing tension between Black Seminoles and Seminole Indians, two groups that since 1800 have partnered when it was to their mutual advantage and parted ways when it was not.

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So they were African Americans?

Yes, in the prevailing cultural terms of the United States and North America, they were African Americans in the nineteenth century. And even if one accepts the idea of the Black Seminoles as black Indians, they remain significantly African American.

Because their ethnicity is central to Rebellion's point that the Black Seminoles were the first black rebels to defeat American slavery, the answer deserves some explanation.

Their external definition in the United States

A person's ethnic identity is never fixed in stone, and it is always defined from at least two perspectives -- the internal perspective someone has as a member of a community and the external perspective ascribed by the world that they live in. These two perspectives sometimes conflict. Native Americans of the 1600s, for example, thought of themselves as members of hundreds of distinct communities. They did not think of themselves as "Indians." Only gradually did they embrace a pan-Indian identity. Does this mean that they were not Indians? Of course not, it just means that they were Indians from one perspective, Lakotah, Dineh, and Timucua from hundreds of other perspectives. The same exercise works in reverse on the Europeans who colonized their land.

Although we have no idea how the Black Seminoles of the nineteenth century described themselves, we know that the world they lived in then, and now, defined them as African Americans, following long established customs of American society.

The United States has always defined the ethnic identity of African Americans, blacks, or Negroes according to the "one drop of blood" approach. Under this approach, anyone who appears to have "one drop of blood" of African ancestry is called an African American. This may offend people and it may seem confusing at times. It may also be changing in post-Tiger Woods America, but for now -- and for centuries -- this has been the American system.[7]

What about their own sense of themselves?

Internally, the Black Seminoles, like most communities, have a more fluid and diverse sense of identity. For one thing, the group includes many African Americans who consider themselves Black Cherokees or Black Creeks, because their ancestors had primary associations with these tribes, either before or after moving to Oklahoma. Black Seminoles who remained in Oklahoma traditionally referred to themselves as Seminole Freedmen, reflecting their status after the U.S. Civil War. In Mexico, the Black Seminoles traditionally referred to themselves by a completely new name, los mascogos, but this is gradually changing, perhaps vanishing.

On a wider scale, in recent years a number of African Americans whose ancestors were associated with Native Americans have taken to calling themselves "Black Indians." There are several interesting Web sites on this topic, which can also be explored in William Loren Katz's historical primer, Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (1986).

The historical questions raised by black Indians are quite fascinating. Early white American settlers enslaved both groups, and in fact the traffic in Native American slaves was more prominent in the early 1600s, and remained the leading industry in the Carolinas through most of the 17th century.[8] Even after the enslavement of Native Americans was banned, planters found creative ways to define "Indians" as "Africans," which allowed for their enslavement.[9] Naturally, under such circumstances interesting ethnic arrangements took place.

As a result, the Black Indian movement has a lot to tell us about American history. And there is no reason to question, on historical grounds, the perspective of people who assert that they are black Indians. They are, after all, asserting their internal identity, based on cultural realities that are every bit as valid as the "one drop of blood" approach.

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Where do they live today?

Link to the maps section
See maps for guides to the present-day communities and Black Seminole heritage sites.
spacer Off-site resource 
  Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association

Today, the descendants of the nineteenth-century Black Seminoles are widely dispersed. The communities with the strongest, ongoing identities are in three areas: the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma constellated around Wewoka; the vicinity of the South Texas towns of Brackettville and Del Rio; and the common lands of los mascogos, the Mexican Black Seminoles, in Nacimiento, Coahuila.

The Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association in Brackettville is the center of the community for American Black Seminoles and their descendants. The association maintains a cemetery for the Scouts and their descendants, who gather in Brackettville each September to remember the dead and celebrate their heritage.

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Who knew about the Black Seminoles in the 1800s?

They were not widely known, but they were well known to many prominent Americans, especially government and military leaders. 

Southern Americans had been dealing with free blacks and fugitive slaves in Florida since the early 1700s, and so their existence was no mystery to slaveholding political leaders of the time. Ten of the first twelve presidents argued or made crucial policy decisions on the status of the Black Seminoles.[10]

Many of the country's military leaders became acquainted with the Black Seminoles either in Florida during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) or in the Indian Territory, after 1838. Famous generals who dealt with them included Winfield Scott, Thomas Sydney Jesup, Zachary Taylor, and the civil war heroes William Tecumseh Sherman and William Belknap. Out west in particular, many officers had positive experiences with the maroons and came to see the maintenance of their liberty as a matter of national honor.[11] It is quite likely that the experiences of the white officers helped predispose them to accept the incorporation of African Americans into the armed forced during the U.S. Civil War.

A third group of Americans who became familiar with the Black Seminole story, though not with the rebels themselves, were antislavery leaders. Interest peaked in the 1840s and 1850s, when Joshua Reed Giddings published his Congressional speeches on the Black Seminoles and then published the first history of the community, The Exiles of Florida (1958), a polemic that was heavily influenced by antislavery views. Giddings' legal arguments on the Black Seminole rebellion also appeared in antislavery pamphlets that influenced Abraham Lincoln, who was a strong admirer of the Ohio Congressman.

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John Horse spacer

Some John Horse links

1812: His world at birth.

Gopher John: His entry into history.

Captivity: His brief confinement during the Florida war.

Assassination: Attempt on his life that sent him to Washington.

Homeland: His final journey.

All John Horse slides: Track all the story panels on John Horse


Who was John Horse?

Few Americans know his story, but the Black Seminole warrior John Horse (1812-1882) was probably the most successful black freedom fighter in U.S. history. His accomplishments were amazing, despite his obscurity. In Florida, he rose to lead the holdouts in the country's largest slave uprising. For forty years afterwards he led his people, the African allies of Seminole Indians, on an epic quest from Florida to Mexico to secure a free homeland.[12]

Over a long life he defeated leading US generals, met two Presidents, served as an adviser to Seminole chiefs, a Scout for the US Army, and a decorated officer in the Mexican military. He defended free black settlements on three frontiers, and was said to love children, whiskey, and his noble white horse, "American." In 1882, he fulfilled his quest for a free homeland with the final act of his life, securing a land grant in Northern Mexico. His descendants live on the land grant to this day.

The life story of John Horse structures the trail narrative (although the narrative covers a wide range of other topics as well). To get as complete a biography of John Horse as possible, see Kenneth Wiggins Porter's Black Seminoles or Kevin Mulroy's Freedom on the Border, which adds some details to Porter. Both resources are described under selected books. As these books demonstrate, the known facts of John Horse's life are scarce, barely filling one or two chapters in all. To document his life, therefore, Rebellion draws on archival images and an evocation of his world to create an authentic portrait of his life and times.[13]

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Did all of the Black Seminoles follow John Horse?

No. After 1837 John Horse became the de facto leader of the community, but there is no evidence that the Black Seminoles ever formally selected a leader. Several individuals were prominent in Florida and the West.

spacer Negro Abraham

Some Abraham links

One-page intro, 1826

The Diplomat: Abraham negotiates for peace in 1836

All Abraham slides: Track all the story panels on Abraham.

In 1835, at the outset of the war in Florida, Abraham was recognized as the head of the maroon community, as he had been since the 1820s. Another prominent warrior was John Caesar, the historic ally of the Indian chief King Philip. With Philip, Caesar was credited with organizing the slave uprisings outside of St. Augustine in 1835-1836. The U.S. Army killed Caesar during the war.[14] Abraham, meanwhile, became the Army's leading hostage. After working with General Jesup, he later fell into disfavor with other Black Seminoles for reasons that have never been entirely clear, but that may have been related to his history of intrigues, some to the benefit of slaveholding parties in Florida and out west.[15]

As Abraham fell from grace, John Horse rose through his daring and uncompromising actions during the Florida war. By the climactic Battle of Lake Okeechobee (1837), he led the vanguard of black militants among the Seminole allies.

Out west, he represented the Black Seminoles in two trips to Washington, and the army recognized him as principal spokesman for the community. From 1850 to the mid-1860s he was the primary leader of the Black Seminoles in Mexico, although it should be noted that almost half of the community remained in Oklahoma, where they retained their own leaders. By the 1870s, younger Black Seminoles were following new leaders in Texas. John Horse retained a patriarchal status and appears to have remained the leading figure in the Mexican community until his death in 1882.[16]

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What did John Horse and the Blacks Seminoles accomplish?

Here is a summary of major accomplishments.

The Black Seminoles:
  • Founded over a dozen black settlements in Florida before 1840.
  • Created the largest haven for fugitive slaves in the Southern U.S.
  • Survived two major U.S. wars and slave raids (1816-1821, 1835-1838).
  • Inspired and led the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history (1835-1838).
  • Fought the only maroon war in U.S. history (1835-1838).
  • With Seminole Indians, fought the U.S. Army to a standstill in the largest and most expensive "Indian" war in U.S. history, the army's only non-victory prior to Vietnam.
  • Won the only emancipation of rebellious African Americans prior to the U.S. Civil War (1838).
  • Supplied antislavery congressmen with key arguments for overturning the "gag" rule in Congress (1836-1844).
  • Pioneered a role for blacks in the U.S. armed forces, working closely with leading officers in Florida and the West (1838-1850, 1872-1914).
  • Led the largest mass exodus of slaves in U.S. history, from Oklahoma to Mexico (1849-1850).
  • Defended Mexican settlers from border Indians (1850-1856).
  • Through the legacy of their rebellion, offered a legal precedent for Lincoln's emancipation of the southern slaves in 1863.
  • In Texas after 1872, served as U.S. Army scouts, playing a key role in the final, major Indian conflicts on the Texas frontier (1872-1876).
  • Established enduring communities in Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.
More specifically, John Horse:
  • Helped renew the resistance in the Second Seminole War with two dramatic escapes (1837).
  • Led the black forces at the climactic Battle of Lake Okechobee (1837).
  • After 1838, served as a U.S. Army Scout in Florida, helping negotiate the surrender of more than 500 Indians (1838-1842).
  • Twice traveled to Washington to petition the president on behalf of the Black Seminoles (1844-1846).
  • Led the largest mass slave escape in U.S. history, from Oklahoma to Mexico (1849-1850).
  • Founded free black settlements in Oklahoma (1849) and Mexico (1851).
  • Rose to the rank of colonel in the Mexican military (1860s).
  • Served as an adviser to the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts in Texas (1872-1876).
  • Survived numerous battles and at least two assassination attempts (1835-1876).
  • Either through his direct influence or his legacy,* secured communal title for the Black Seminoles to their land grant in Mexico, where descendants still live to this day.

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When did their slave rebellion take place? Was it really a rebellion or a maroon war?

The Black Seminole slave rebellion took place from December of 1835 to April of 1838 in central Florida during the first half of the Second Seminole War.[17]

Technically, it is a matter of debate whether or not the Black Seminoles themselves should be counted as direct participants in the slave revolt, since most of the Black Seminoles were considered maroons -- Africans who had lived in the wilderness long enough to establish a quasi-free status, albeit one unsanctioned by white society. Regardless of how the Black Seminoles are classified, however, there is no question that they led and inspired hundreds of plantation slaves who rebelled over this period, fleeing their masters to join the Seminole ranks.

spacer War Erupts, story panel from trail narrative

War erupts: Follow the allied Seminole forces in fifteen story panels charting the dramatic events that began the Second Seminole War.

Except for a few specialists, historians have generally had a hard time dealing with the ethnic complexities of the Second Seminole War. As a result, they have often conflated the maroon warriors and the plantation-slave rebels, ascribing all of the black aspects of the war to the Black Seminoles while overlooking the role of the 385-plus field slaves. 

This confusion, coupled with ideological trends in American history, has led scholars classifying American slave rebellions to overlook the Florida rebellion for more than one hundred and fifty years.

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Was it really the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history?

Absolutely. To date, only two historians, Canter Brown and Larry Rivers, have suggested this, and yet a careful examination of the historical record clearly demonstrates that the country's largest slave revolt took place in conjunction with the joint maroon-Indian conflict in Florida over 1835-1838.[18]

For a factual comparison, see the table of major U.S. slave revolts in this site's original essay, The largest slave rebellion in U.S. history, or see Rebellion's tally plantation slaves in the rebellion. The information toolkit on the rebellion includes quotations, sources, and additional details for skeptics. This site is the first source to substantiate with numbers and sources the claim that the Black Seminole slave rebellion was the largest in U.S. history.

Aside from a few regional specialists, American scholars have generally been inattentive or ignorant regarding the role of plantation slaves in the Second Seminole War. 

Should we let historians off the hook because the war's ethnic dimensions were so complex? Or because the war appears to have been a minor event?

Absolutely not. For one, the war was anything but a minor event. It was the largest and most costly Indian war in U.S. history -- more expensive and deadly than all the famous Indians wars of the American West combined.[19] The war was not forgotten because it was minor, but because it was humiliating for the U.S. Army, and in particular for the American South, whose vaunted white yeomen and gentry could not defeat the black allies of the Seminoles.

Secondly, the ethnic dimensions of the war were not so complex that trained historians should have missed them. Alliances between maroons and slaves were not unusual in the Americas, but in fact were typical of many of the largest slave rebellions. From Jamaica to Brazil, maroons provided leadership and inspiration for some of the New World's largest revolts.[20] The U.S. generals who prosecuted the Second Seminole War were very mindful of these examples as they planned their military strategies. If the generals knew the facts, so should the scholars. Scholars of American slavery, therefore, especially those who have written about the foreign rebellions, have no excuse for having missed the facts on the Black Seminole rebellion.[21]

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Who knew about the rebellion at the time?

Most of the country knew about the Second Seminole War, at least as an Indian conflict, since it was widely reported in national newspapers from 1835-1842.

The black portion of the conflict, however, was not widely known. It was occasionally reported in the national press, but rarely in any detail, and almost never in direct language. The southern press had long specialized in a form of euphemistic reference to servile insurrection, a sort of code that managed to alert slaveholding citizens to danger while avoiding statements that might inflame slaves to rebellion.

Over this same period, southern historians were rallying around the notion that national history could be a weapon in the political conflict over sectional interests, principally slavery.[22] Overall, this created an atmosphere that stifled open information on the black dimensions of the war in Florida. The ruling class of the South saw no interest in circulating the fact that black rebels were successfully challenging their allegedly superior masters. Southern lawmakers were also not anxious for northern taxpayers to learn that the federally funded army was suppressing a southern slave rebellion, attempting to return fugitives to their owners.

In the aftermath of the bloody slave uprising led by Nat Turner in 1831, the southern press became even more reluctant to report insurrections in a straightforward manner, and slaveholders tended to view all dissemination of such knowledge as an act of treason. Under such circumstances, slaveholders countenanced various forms of censorship from 1835-1842 -- the same years that the war in Florida was taking place. These included censorship of the southern mails and implementation of the notorious "gag rule" banning all debates of slavery in the U.S. Congress.[23]

These controls effectively kept knowledge of the Florida slave rebellion from the general public, at least until 1842, when Congress debated the issue. Most Northern members of Congress appear to have been unfamiliar with the slave dimensions of the war until the 1842 debates, which took place four years after most of the blacks had surrendered.[24]

The dynamics of the war were better known early on within the inner circles of the military. In 1836, commanding general Thomas Sydney Jesup wrote to the Secretary of War, "This, you may be assured, is a negro, not an Indian war; and if it be not speedily put down, the south will feel the effects of it on their slave population before the end of the next season." Jesup was the most successful commander of the war, and not surprisingly the one who understood its ethnic dimensions the most clearly.[25]

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Why isn't it in most history textbooks?

There is no simple answer to this question, which is essentially an academic mystery. The answer to the previous question addresses some of the reasons that the country overlooked the rebellion in its day -- namely, censorship, a racist sense of white supremacy, and southern fears that news of slave resistance would fan the flames of general rebellion. After the U.S. Civil War, white supremacy continued to dominate mainstream historical accounts of slavery, tending to minimize all realistic depictions of the South's peculiar institution. 

None of this is a mystery to students of history. The mystery, however, is how scholars continued to miss the facts right up until the present day.

The whole topic is the subject of an original essay on "The buried history of the rebellion." Amazingly, as that piece and its accompanying essay make plain, the pieces of the puzzle that establish the size of the uprising have been available to scholars for decades. They are relatively easy to piece together even from secondary sources, which makes the failure of the historians all the more interesting. See the essays for more.

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Why aren't the Black Seminoles themselves better known?

Like the previous question, this one is something of a mystery. Without a doubt, however, America's legacy of racism has played a major role in the oversight.

Had a community of white pioneers accomplished half of the feats that the Black Seminoles accomplished in the 1800s, they would have easily entered the national consciousness. Had a white man accomplished half of John Horse's feats, he would have certainly become a legend -- and in fact several white frontiersmen, like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, did become such legends, on slimmer resumes than John Horse.[26]

Societies always crave heroes. Nineteenth-century America craved frontier heroes, men like Boone and Crockett who could embody the country's desire to move west and even, to a certain extent, market that opportunity. In the 1800s, however, America did not crave heroes who were armed and black. America wanted black Samboes, not black freedom fighters. The existence of the Black Seminoles threatened North and South alike -- and threatened, more importantly, the perilous unity between the North and South that white citizens were striving to regain in the difficult years after the Civil War. As often occurs, the extreme efforts at unity came at the expense of truth.

And so, despite their accomplishments -- or some might say, because of their accomplishments -- John Horse and the Black Seminoles did not become legends, heroes, or the subjects of dime-store novels. Instead they became mere footnotes to history.

Times change. Today, with a longer-term perspective on American history, it is clear that the Black Seminoles were pioneers on a number of frontiers -- geographic, ethnic, social, and political. Regardless of whether or not they are viewed as heroes, on the merits of their accomplishments, these rebels deserve a much more prominent place in American history.

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Why does any of this matter?

For a complete answer to this question, see Why read their story? Here are a few thoughts:

  • History matters, and it should be accurate.
  • It makes a difference to know that your ancestors fought for freedom and won.
  • Americans would be outraged if the country had somehow forgotten the true history of its most successful white freedom fighters -- and in fact pundits like George Will are routinely outraged when our countrymen forget far more minor details than this from American history.
  • America never was the lily white nation of Pat Buchanan's dreams, as this story makes clear.
  • The American past was as much an unfulfilled experiment as the American present, requiring the ongoing and at times self-sacrificing actions of people who believe that freedom is worth fighting for.
  • Though people seeking power and short-term gain often appear to rule the world, those who pursue justice sometimes win out in the end, especially when they pursue it with faith and perseverance.

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Are there history books on this?

Yes. Histories dealing with the Black Seminoles have been in print since 1848, with three excellent additions since 1993. See selected books for a guide to these resources, which are available through online booksellers and in most university libraries. The Florida Heritage collection has also placed one of the principal nineteenth-century sources online, Joshua Reed Giddings' The Exiles of Florida, with eventual plans to add Lt. Sprague's history of the Florida war.

An expanded version of the material on this Website may also one day be available in print as an illustrated history.

Interested researchers should also see the essays & articles section for a list of journal and newspaper articles available online.

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Are there other Web sites on this?

Yes, many. See the list of Web resources for a directory of sites on the Black Seminoles, Seminole Indians, the Seminole wars, and related topics. Especially notable is Bennie McRae's site Lest We Forget, which includes a number of original articles on the history of the Black Seminoles in Mexico and Texas (and many other topics relating to black history).

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How can I  link to this site from my own?

Just create a link to and please use the complete title for the site or one of these abbreviations: "Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles" or "John Horse and the Black Seminoles." Here is html code for a complete link to the site:

<a href="">Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery</a>

If you use descriptive language, try the wording on the home page under the banner or on the home page under the Trail Narrative heading.

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How can I learn more about the production of this Web site?

To learn more about the production, check out other links in this overview section, such as:

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Are there plans for a book or documentary film?

I am very interested in collaborators to produce a documentary film based generally on the story as outlined in the Trail Narrative and the arc of John Horse's life, with alterations for television. I have a background in film and a story treatment for a television documentary more or less at the ready. I would also like to adapt the material used on this site into a pictorial history of the subject. If you would like more information, contact me, J.B. Bird, via email or phone.

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How can I support this project?

Support is needed -- to complete the Web documentary, develop the book, and produce a television documentary.

To learn how you can support completion of the final segments of the Web site, see sponsors & funding, which explains how tax-deductible donations can be made by individuals or organizations. 

If you cannot give money, the project is also seeking in-kind contributions. I am open to creative ideas, especially for the development of educational materials.

Plain old encouraging emails are also always welcomed.

If you are interested in supporting development of the book or television documentary, contact me, the writer-producer, directly. These two projects could use development support now, and the documentary will eventually require major public or private funding.

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Site intro
Slave rebellion intro
Toolkit on the rebellion
Story Synopsis
Why learn their story?
Purpose of this site
Project info
Sponsors & funding
Navigation help
Also see:
Picture tour

Picture tour: a summary of the story in 32 images.