Appeals for Help
Jesup agreed to help his former enemies. He brought
Coacoochee's case before President John Tyler and his Secretary of War,
William Wilkins. Stressing the moral imperative of the
government's promises to the Seminoles, Jesup warned Wilkins
that he could not,
"[R]emain passive and witness the illegal interference with the rights of those people; every consideration … of personal honor [and] public obligation forbids it."
During the war, Americans vilified Jesup for his methods against the Seminoles, yet his support for them now revealed another aspect of his character. Despite a reputation for deceit based on his capture of Osceola, Jesup appears to have been a man of principle. In 1838, he placed his career at risk by recommending a reversal of the Indian removal policy in Florida. He had ended the black insurrection with his promise of freedom to the maroons and his pledge to secure them a homeland where they could live in peace. In his view, it was the government's obligation to fulfill these promises.
Sources: Littlefield Africans and Seminoles 87, Kieffer 232-33, ff 344.
Part 3, Exile: l