Rebellion 1844 - 1845     
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A rider in the Territory
A rider in the territory. Contemporary rendering based on John Eastman's Ride for Liberty.
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Note on sources, plus John Horse's assessment of the attack

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Details of the attack have always remained sketchy. Porter stitched together his account from officers' letters and John Horse's consolidated files with the Army, but he admitted that the identity and motivation of the assailant have never been known precisely. While no one can pinpoint the reasons for the assault, it hardly seems coincidental that it took place just as John Horse was stepping up attempts to secure autonomy, freedom, and security for the Black Seminoles.

John Horse blamed the attack on:

"Seminole Indians, -- Alligator's people.... The fact of my having acted as guide & interpreter during the Seminole War is the cause of enmity & murderous designs of the Indians.... they murdered some of the guides & I am confident such will be my fate if I remain."

John Horse may have had more to say on the incident, but this is all that remains from the record. Without doubt, black interpreters suffered reprisals for their Army services: in Florida, one was murdered in his sleep, while a captured interpreter was burned at the stake. Still, if John Horse's services for the Army were the issue, it seems unusual that he had not already been killed, or that his enemies would have waited until 1844 to attempt an assassination.

Two other explanations make equal or better sense, especially in combination. First, it seems likely that over time, as the U.S. government failed to honor its perceived promises to the Seminole tribe, some Indians vented their anger at the interpreters, perhaps accusing them of having misrepresented the emigration treaties. Of equal relevance, John Horse's efforts to secure a legally free status for the Black Seminoles surely angered individual Creeks and Seminoles who were angling for possession of the blacks.

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Sources: Porter Black 106, 113-14, Foreman Five 228, Littlefield Seminoles 88, Lancaster 68.
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


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