The Negro Fort and Fort Gadsden
Military map, 1818, National Archives.
After the War of 1812 between the U.S. and England, Spanish Florida
remained a haven for free blacks and fugitive slaves. By 1815,
hundreds of African Americans had taken up residence in the vicinity
of the "Negro Fort," a heavily armed fortress on the Appalachicola River in
western Florida. American slaveholders considered the fort a dangerous
menace to their way of life. In 1816, U.S. General
Andrew Jackson ordered a brutal assault to destroy the fort and reduce
its inhabitants to chattel slavery.