For A Century, The First Underground Railroad Ran Slaves South To Florida (PHOTOS)

Posted in Articles, History, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Slavery, United States on 2012-03-20 01:48Z by Steven

For A Century, The First Underground Railroad Ran Slaves South To Florida (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post

Bruce Smith, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. — While most Americans are familiar with the Underground Railroad that helped Southern slaves escape north before the Civil War, the first clandestine path to freedom ran for more than a century in the opposite direction.

Stories of that lesser-known “railroad” will be shared June 20-24 at the National Underground Railroad Conference in St. Augustine, Fla. The network of sympathizers gave refuge to those fleeing their masters, including many American Indians who helped slaves escape to what was then the Spanish territory of Florida. That lasted from shortly after the founding of Carolina Colony in 1670 to after the American Revolution.

They escaped not only to the South but to Mexico, the Caribbean and the American West.

And the “railroad” helps to explain at least in part why the lasting culture of slave descendants – known as Gullah in South Carolina and Geechee in Florida and Georgia – exists along the northeastern Florida coast.

“It’s a fascinating story and most people in America are stuck – they are either stuck on 1964 and the Civil Rights Act or they are stuck on the Civil War,” said Derek Hankerson, who is a Gullah descendant and a small business owner in St. Augustine, Fla. “We have been hankering to share these stories.”…

…Slaves likely started fleeing toward Florida when South Carolina was established in 1670, said Jane Landers, a Vanderbilt University historian who has researched the subject extensively. The first mention of escaped slaves in Spanish records was in 1687 when eight slaves, including a nursing baby, showed up in St. Augustine.

Spain refused to return them and instead gave them religious sanctuary, and that policy was formalized in 1693. The only condition is that those seeking sanctuary convert to Catholicism.

“It was a total shift in the geopolitics of the Caribbean and after that anyone who leaves a Protestant area to request sanctuary gets it,” Landers said.

Read the entire article here.

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Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2011-07-29 21:15Z by Steven

Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions

Harvard University Press
ISBN 9780674035911
February 2010
352 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches, 21 halftones, 2 maps

Jane G. Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History
Vanderbilt University

2011 Rembert Patrick Award, Florida Historical Society

Sailing the tide of a tumultuous era of Atlantic revolutions, a remarkable group of African-born and African-descended individuals transformed themselves from slaves into active agents of their lives and times. Big Prince Whitten, the black Seminole Abraham, and General Georges Biassou were “Atlantic creoles,” Africans who found their way to freedom by actively engaging in the most important political events of their day. These men and women of diverse ethnic backgrounds, who were fluent in multiple languages and familiar with African, American, and European cultures, migrated across the new world’s imperial boundaries in search of freedom and a safe haven. Yet, until now, their extraordinary lives and exploits have been hidden from posterity.
Through prodigious archival research, Jane Landers radically alters our vision of the breadth and extent of the Age of Revolution, and our understanding of its actors. Whereas Africans in the Atlantic world are traditionally seen as destined for the slave market and plantation labor, Landers reconstructs the lives of unique individuals who managed to move purposefully through French, Spanish, and English colonies, and through Indian territory, in the unstable century between 1750 and 1850. Mobile and adaptive, they shifted allegiances and identities depending on which political leader or program offered the greatest possibility for freedom. Whether fighting for the King of Kongo, England, France, or Spain, or for the Muskogee and Seminole chiefs, their thirst for freedom helped to shape the course of the Atlantic revolutions and to enrich the history of revolutionary lives in all times.

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