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Rebellion 1837 - 1858     
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Detail from The Nation Robbing an Indian Chief of his Wife
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Detail from "The Nation Robbing an Indian Chief of his Wife," engraving from The Anti-Slavery Almanac of 1839.
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Sidetrack:
Porter's assessment of the legend

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In "The Episode of Osceola's Wife: Fact or Fiction?" Porter scrutinized the various sources of the legend. He traced its initial appearance back to an issue of McMaster's Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine in July 1837. McMaster, in turn, credited M.M. Cohen with the fact, but Cohen -- who published one of the first accounts of the Seminole war -- did not mention the incident in any of his surviving works. 

From McMaster, notes Porter, the story entered the mainstream of abolitionist propaganda, where it found its most famous treatment in Giddings 1858 history The Exiles of Florida. From there, the story remained almost entirely unquestioned for a century, appearing regularly in popular guidebooks.

Sifting the evidence, Porter concludes that the story was a fabrication of the antislavery movement, which Giddings picked up. 

Despite its lack of historical credibility, the story was plausible, Porter points out, given Osceola's ties to the Black Seminoles and the common habit of Seminole Indians having black wives and relatives.

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Sources : Porter "Episode."
Part 2, War: Outline  l  Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 - War: 1832-1838
+ Prelude to War
Jackson's Rise
Payne's Landing
Creek Country
Seminole Outrage
Osceola
Before the Storm
+ Revenge
+ Deceit
+ Liberty or Death
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 + Freedom: 1850-1882
 + Legacy & Conclusion

Sidetrack(s)

A factual look at the abolitionists' legend

Porter's assessment of the legend

More on Osceola: his name, plus one officer's perspective

Back to main trail >>