Rebellion 1838 - 1863     
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Detail from 1864 photograph of contrabands
Detail from photograph taken in 1864 of contrabands during the U.S. Civil War. Photograph compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, creator unknown. See first slide in this series for wider view and link to an enlargement. Library of Congress.
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Black Militants

The impact that both the contrabands and the Black Seminoles had on emancipation brings to light one of the buried themes of American history, the effectiveness of black militancy. The contrabands offer the best demonstration of successful black militancy against U.S. slavery; after them, there is no finer example than the Black Seminoles, who won the country's first offer of freedom for rebel blacks not through the benevolence and idealism of white rulers, but through the forceful assertion of black rights and interests. The quasi-legal emancipation of the Black Seminoles and some of their allies in 1838 was only indirectly related to the general southern emancipation of 1863, and yet the later event vindicated the courage, perseverance, and vision of the black militants in Florida. And it confirmed the historical and moral vision of those nineteenth-century Americans, like Joshua Reed Giddings, Frederick Douglass, and an array of top-ranking federal army officers, who drew inspiration from the Black Seminoles and their story.

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Sources: Garrison Abolition of Slavery 24.
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