Black Seminole Involvement and Leadership During the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842

Posted in Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2011-03-10 04:05Z by Steven

Black Seminole Involvement and Leadership During the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842

Indiana University
May 2007
228 pages

Anthony E. Dixon

A Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History Indiana University

This thesis examines the involvement, leadership, and impact of the Black Seminoles during the Second Seminole War. In Florida, free Blacks, runaway slaves, and Blacks owned by Seminoles collectively became known as Black Seminoles. Black Seminoles either lived in separate communities near Seminole Indians, or joined them by cohabitating or intermarriage. Throughout this cohabitation, Blacks became an integral part of Seminole life by taking positions as advisers, counselors, and trusted interpreters to the English (who were rapidly advancing plantation society into territorial Florida).

By the advent of the Second Seminole War, Black Seminoles, unlike their Seminole Indian counterparts were not given the opportunity to emigrate westward under the United States government’s Indian Removal Policy. The United States government’s objective became to return as many Black Seminoles, if not all, to slavery. Therefore, it became the Black Seminole’s objective to resist enslavement or re-enslavement (for many) on American plantations.

The Introduction explains the objective and focus of this study. Moreover, it explains the need and importance of this study while examining the historiography of the Second Seminole War in relation to the Black Seminoles. The origins and cultural aspects of the Black Seminoles is the topic of chapter one. By examining the origins and cultural aspects of the Black Seminoles, this study establishes the autonomy of the Black Seminoles from their Indian counterparts. Chapter two focuses on the relationship and alliance between Seminole Blacks and Indians. Research concerning Black Seminole involvement throughout the war allows chapter three to reconstruct the Second Seminole War from the Black Seminole perspective. A biographical approach is utilized in chapter four in order to understand the Black Seminole leadership. This chapter examines the lives of the three most prominent Black Seminole leaders during the war. The overall impact of the Black Seminole involvement in the war is the focus of chapter five. Chapter six summarizes this study and provides the historiography of the Second Seminole War with a perspective that has remained relatively obscure.

It is clear that from the onset of the war, the United States government, military, and state militias grossly underestimated both the determination and the willingness of the Black Seminole to resist at all cost. Throughout the war, both United States’ military and political strategies were constructed and reconstructed to compensate for both the intensity with which the Black Seminoles fought as well as their political savvy during negotiations. This study examines the impact of the Black Seminoles on the Second Seminole War within the context of marronage and subsequently interprets the Second Seminole War itself as a form of slave rebellion.

Table of Contents

  • Title Page
  • Acknowlegements
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Origins and Cultural Character of the Black Seminole
  • Chapter 2: Seminole and Black Seminole Alliance
  • Chapter 3: Black Seminole Early Resistance and Involvement During the Second Seminole War
  • Chapter 4: Black Seminole Leadership During the Second Seminole War
  • Chapter 5: The Impact of the Black Seminoles on the Second Seminole War
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Table of Illustrations

  • Afro-Seminole Creole Language
  • Annual Distribution of Runaway Slaves

Read the entire dissertation here.

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