Rebellion May 30, 1844     
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William Wilkins, Secretary of War under President Tyler
William Wilkins (1779-1865), Secretary of War under Tyler. The former judge was the first in a long line of federal officials asked to rule on issues relating to the status of the Black Seminoles.  Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-110250.
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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.

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Sources: Littlefield Africans and Seminoles 87, Kieffer 232-33, ff 344.
Part 3, Exile: Outline  l Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 - Exile: 1838-1850
+ Shifting Alliances
+ American Justice
spacer spacer Appeals for Help
"The Hero"
Federal Allies
Southern Enemies
Marcellus Duval
Frontier Justice
American Justice
+ A New Frontier
 + Freedom: 1850-1882
 + Legacy & Conclusion


Excerpt from Jesup's letter to the Secretary of War and President Tyler