Rebellion November 1850     
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Sword of George M. Broooke
The sword of Colonel George M. Brooke, one of several prominent officers who befriended John Horse in Florida and reencountered him out West. Florida Photographic Collection.
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In an interesting twist, one of the officials Duval contacted for aid was John Horse’s acquaintance from Florida, Gen. George M. Brooke, commanding the Department of Texas at San Antonio. In 1826, Brooke had christened John Horse “Gopher John” after the 14-year-old boy re-sold him the same two gopher tortoises each day for a week.* Brooke had been sympathetic to the Seminoles in Florida, distributing rations on his own authority after a drought and petitioning the government to assist them.

In late 1850, Brooke received requests from Duval and Gov. Bell to send the Army after the Seminole allies. Brooke refused. Duval, he wrote, had offered no proof of ownership to the blacks he claimed. To use the Army in their recovery would be unprecedented. Brooke’s actions were not pro-Black Seminole: he did order the Army to detain blacks at the border until they could prove their freedom, and he authorized the Indian agent, Rollins, to broker with the Comanches for the bounty on Black Seminoles. But Brooke stood up to the ultimate requests of the slaveholders.**

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Sources: Tyler 4, Mulroy 66, Montgomery 74. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
* See the Gopher John segment for an account of the 1826 episode. Both the nickname and the story that gave rise to it were well known on the frontier, appearing in U.S. Army reports and even in Cora Montgomery’s memoir of life in Eagle Pass, where she makes passing reference to the fact that “John does not look as dishonest as his character runs, but might very well have earned his pre-name of ‘Gopher’ in the way it is told of him.”
**Mulroy 66 writes that, “Brooke effectively had taken preventive action only after the main body of emigrant Seminole maroons had entered Mexico.”
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 - Freedom: 1850-1882
+ Cost of Freedom
spacer spacer Arrival
Second Exodus
Border Etiquette
Duval's Desserts
Indian Killers
End of an Era
+ Liberty Foretold
+ Liberty Found
 + Legacy & Conclusion