The Black Seminoles may seem marginal today, but they were well known to the leaders of early America. Seven of the country's first eight presidents wrote policies dealing with this troublesome group of armed, semi-autonomous blacks. In all, eleven presidents, from Washington to Lincoln, dealt directly or indirectly with the rebels.
One of the first treaties in U.S. history, the Treaty of New York (1790), sought to recover Black Seminoles from Florida. Washington, who signed the document, followed up by dispatching his secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, to negotiate further with Spain for their recovery.
(Years later it was even reported that one of Washington's own
slaves might have escaped to Seminole territory.) Subsequent presidents waged war on the rebels, brokered peace with them, and oversaw crucial rulings on their legal
Giddings Exiles 12-3, Twyman 78-9, Native American Treaty 9, Brown "Sarrazota" 18-19.