Rebellion 1840s & 1850s     
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Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass, photograph, date and creator unknown. Library of Congress.
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Giddings and the Black Abolitionists

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Before the publication of Exiles, Giddings’ arguments on the Black Seminoles had been known to subscribers of abolitionist newspapers, particularly readers of the black abolitionist press. As early as 1841, The Colored American, one of the most important African American newspapers of the period, published lengthy excerpts of Giddings’ first speech on the Florida war. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Giddings was a regular and celebrated figure in the pages of William Garrison’s The Liberator, and black abolitionist newspapers like The National Era, Frederick Douglass’ The North Star and its successor, Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Abolitionist editors and commentators tended to accept as fact assertions by Giddings and others that the Florida war was motivated by slavery.

While Giddings’ views on the war were well known, specific references to the Black Seminoles were few before 1858. An exception occurred in 1853 and 1854 when Giddings stirred up excitement in Rochester and Syracuse with public lectures on the “Exiles of Georgia,” as he was then calling the community. “It is surprising,” noted a commentator on the lectures, “that such a chapter, extending through such a period, and marked by so many points of interest, should be comparatively unknown.” The popularity of the lectures may have influenced Giddings’ decision to write his complete history.

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Sources: The Colored American, April 10, 1841, The North Star, May 12, July 14, 1848, The National Era, February 3, March 9, May 11, 1848, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, November 26, 1852, February 4, November 18, December 2, 1853, November 24, 1854. ©
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
+ Liberty Foretold
spacer spacer Renown in Exile
The War Power
Lincoln's Choice
Black Militants
+ Liberty Found
 + Legacy & Conclusion


Giddings and the Black Abolitionists

Atlantic Monthly review of Exiles, September 1858

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More on the book’s style, bias, and vision

The Exiles of Florida, complete digital text

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