Rebellion 1850-1851     
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Gopher John, or John Horse
John Horse, as he appeared around 1840. Source of the original sketch unknown. The engraving, entitled "Gopher John Seminole Interpreter," first appeared in Sprague's 1848 history of the war, attributed to the firm of N. Orr & Richardson. A similar engraving by Orr appeared in Giddings' 1858 history, with slight alterations. For a comparison of the two, see the more detailed commentary in key images.
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Even a black man like John Horse could participate in Texas’ polite society, so long as he maintained an illusory subservience. During visits to Montgomery’s home, John Horse played the part by marshalling Coacoochee “with all ceremony [as] his interpreter.” Montgomery studiously described the docility she observed in “Gopher John, a full-blooded negro, whose immediate parents were from Africa.”

John, or as the Lipans call him, “Laughing Dog,” is, in all his ways, true to the records of three thousand years of dependent servitude. He is pliant, docile, heedless of race or nationality, and only intent to serve his chief in the way he is most pleased to be served, yet no coward withal, and as generous and as light-hearted as he is thoughtless of the future.

Was John Horse, the black rebel who fought the U.S. Army to a standstill and boasted of making many a white man “bite the dust,” really the meek, docile porter described by Montgomery? And how could she describe as “thoughtless of the future” a man who had repeatedly risked his life for the freedom of his family and followers, across three decades and as many international frontiers? The nineteenth century may offer few better examples of black “double-consciousness” (or its corollary in white misperception) than this scene of John Horse, who rose to lead the largest and most successful black rebellion in U.S. history, yet was still able to reassure Cora Montgomery that deep down he was naturally subservient.

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Sources: Montgomery 74, 145. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
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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