Rebellion May 28-29, 1586     
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1589 map of Drake's attack on St. Augustine
Engraved and hand-colored map depicting Drake's attack on St. Augustine on May 28-29, 1586. Created by the Italian cartographer Baptista Boazio, this is the oldest item in the Florida State Archives. Florida State Archives.
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England and Spain both tried to use cimarron colonies to their own advantage. Sir Francis Drake initiated this tradition in 1572 after a community of free blacks rescued him on his famous voyage to Panama. Drake's men described the "Symerons" as,

"[C]ertain valiant Negros fled from their cruel masters the Spaniards."

According to Drake's chaplain on the expedition, the cimarrons nursed the explorer and his crew back to health, helped them attack a Spanish mule train loaded with gold, and even led Drake to the famous tree where he first saw the Pacific Ocean. Drake subsequently used cimarrons as allies in his attacks on the Spanish at Panama (1572), Cartagena and Florida (1586). After the Florida attack, he deposited his black allies at the British colony of Roanoke in present-day North Carolina. This makes it quite possible that the descendants of these free black warriors were living in North America when the British founded their first permanent colony at Jamestown in 1605.

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Sources: Wright Documents 336, Morgan 42, Nichols "Sir Francis Drake Revived" cited in Twyman 25, Quinn 432-34.
Background: Outline  l  Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 - Background: 1693-1812
spacer spacer African Connections
Spanish Influence
British Reaction
The Seminoles
Section Conclusion
 + Early Years: 1832-1838
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 + Freedom: 1850-1882
 + Legacy & Conclusion


Drake's vision of a 16th-century alliance with rebel slaves

The mystery of the cimarrons in colonial Virginia