Rebellion Selected books: 1848 - 2000     
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spacer Resources > Selected books

These books represent the best starting points for research into the Black Seminoles and related topics.

Contemporary books

The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People (1996) by Kenneth Wiggins Porter, edited by Thomas Senter and Alcione Amos. Culminating five decades of research by Porter, this fascinating book, edited and released after the scholar's death, relays the epic history of the Black Seminoles from Florida to Mexico. The book is the starting point for all current research on the group, and it features the best treatment in print of the maroon aspect of the Second Seminole War.

Freedom on the Border (1993) by Kevin Mulroy. This well-written complement to Porter offers an overview of Black Seminole history with much original research on the western period. Mulroy places the story within broad historical and anthropological trends, producing a work of interest to students in many disciplines.

Africans and Seminoles (1977) by Daniel F. Littlefield. When it appeared in 1977 this was the first historical work exclusively on the Black Seminoles since the Giddings history of 1858 and Foster's dissertation of 1935. The thorough, well-researched book remains the most authoritative document about the Black Seminoles in the Indian Territory.

The Black Seminole Legacy and North American politics, 1693-1845 (1999) by Bruce Edward Twyman. Rather than narrate the history of the Black Seminoles, Twyman analyzes them as a political force within the American hemisphere from 1693-1845. His original work underscores the relevance of these "marginal" black rebels to the society that tried to deny their existence.

The Second Seminole War, 1835-1842 (1967) by John K. Mahon. This engaging, well-written, and still-definitive account is the starting point for any historical research into the war. In either its original or revised (1985) editions, this book will be of interest to all students of American history.

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19th-century works

Note: All of these works are available in facsimile reprints or current editions. Editions can be found at many large, public libraries.

The Exiles of Florida (1858) by Joshua Reed Giddings. The inaccuracies are as interesting as the facts in this first account of the Black Seminoles. Written as a polemic against slavery, this work by abolitionist Congressman Giddings serves as both a primary resource and an historical artifact. Dramatically written, the book will thoroughly engage anyone interested in slavery and 19th-century America.

The Origin, Progress, and Conclusion of the Florida War (1848) by John T. Sprague. The first history of the war was the definitive account until Mahon (1967) and remains of great interest to scholars, containing many primary documents and eye-witness accounts, elevated by Sprague's fine prose.

Journey into Wilderness: An Army Surgeon's Account of Life in Camp and Field During the Creek and Seminole Wars, 1836-38 (1967) by Jacob Rhett Motte. Motte was an ascerbic, Harvard-educated doctor who enlisted in the war as an Army Surgeon. His entertaining, first-hand account includes closely written observations of the principal actors, a detailed description of Osceola's capture, and colorful accounts of the scenes and scenery in Florida.

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Related books of general interest

Slavery in Florida (2000) by Larry Eugene Rivers. The best account yet of African slavery in Florida includes an excellent summary of Black Seminole history in the region, while synthesizing recent scholarship on Africans and maroons in the Florida territory.

Black Society in Spanish Florida (1999) by Jane Landers. This wonderful book synthesizes the breadth of known detail on the African slaves and free citizens of Spanish Florida, shedding light on a little-known chapter in the history of the Americas.

Osceola's Legacy (1991) by Patricia Riles Wickman. This fascinating book by a Seminole tribal historian dispels many myths about Osceola while resurrecting the known history of an American Indian folk hero. Drawing on extensive research into artifacts and archeology, the book succeeds as both history and art history.

Fort Mose: Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom (1995) by Kathleen A. Deagan and Darcie A. MacMahon. Detailing both the history and re-discovery of Fort Mose, this attractive book includes a wealth of images and has helped stimulate much interest in the fort.

The Seminoles of Florida (1993) by James Covington. This reprise of Seminole history in Florida includes corrections and additions to Mahon while following the entire sweep of Seminole history to the present day.

Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire (3 vols, 1977-1984) by Robert Vincent Remini. This authoritative biography of Jackson touches only tangentially on the Seminoles and their black allies, but reading it brings to the life the wider historical context of their struggle for freedom within a slaveholding nation. The author presents Jackson's life with balance, insight, and thorough scholarship.

Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (1986) by William Loren Katz. This general history is appropriate for all ages and offers a quick and illuminating counter-weight to the mainstream of American history, with citations and anecdotes to entice further study.

The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History (1996) by William Loren Katz. This is another readable and valuable general resource from one of the leaders in the field, of use to scholars of all ages.

The Negro on the American Frontier (1971) by Kenneth Wiggins Porter. Prior to publication of The Black Seminoles in 1996, this earlier work by Porter offered the most complete overall account of Black Seminole history. The book still serves as a valuable guide to references and primary sources.

Massacre! (1968) and Dade's Last Command (1995) by Frank Laumer. In these two books Laumer offers an historically accurate and dramatically complete slice-of-life from the Second Seminole War, of particular interest to military- and southern-history buffs.

Eagle Pass; or, Life on the Border (1852) by Cora Montgomery (Jane McManus Storms Cazneau). This enjoyable work of nineteenth-century propaganda promoting the twin credos of Manifest Destiny (a phrase Montgomery is credited with coining) and southern expansion touches only briefly on Montgomery's encounters with John Horse and Coacoochee in Eagle Pass but offers a human portrait of frontier society. Often available at libraries or in reprint.

Correspondence of Andrew Jackson (7 vols, 1926-35), edited by John Spencer Bassett. You probably will not want to buy this seven-volume reference work, but if you can locate a copy in the library, nothing beats going to the source for  the thoughts of Old Hickory. Readers can peruse for themselves Jackson's plain-spoken, straight-shooting plans for the "lawless banditti" he called the Black Seminoles.

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