SANDS OF TIME: American Beach nears 80-year anniversary

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2014-10-15 01:24Z by Steven

SANDS OF TIME: American Beach nears 80-year anniversary

The Florida Times-Union
Jacksonville, Florida

Alec Newell

The extended family of Zephaniah Kingsley, Anna Jai, and their descendants have been major players in shaping the history of Northeast Florida during three colonial periods, American territorial times, Florida statehood and on into the 20th century.

Between Lake George and the St. Marys River, the fingerprints they left seem to be everywhere.

Most of us are familiar with the story of how slave trader Zepheniah Kingsley bought a 13-year-old “African princess” — Anna Madgigine Jai — in Cuba and brought her back to his Laurel Grove Plantation in what is now Orange Park. The couple produced four children, and Zephaniah never wavered in his acknowledgement of Anna as his wife.

Anna, later as a freed woman of color, would own her own slaves, plantation property, and live at various other family residences along the lower St. Johns River. These properties included Mandarin (later owned by Harriet Beecher Stowe), Kingsley Plantation (Ft. George Island), Chesterfield (part of the Jacksonville University Campus), Floral Bluff (Arlington), and Strawberry Plantation (Arlington Bluff), where she was buried. Probably less well-known is the Kingsley connection to the Afro-American Life Insurance Company and American Beach

Read the entire article here.

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Balancing Evils Judiciously: The Proslavery Writings of Zephaniah Kingsley

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2011-09-02 20:38Z by Steven

Balancing Evils Judiciously: The Proslavery Writings of Zephaniah Kingsley

University Press of Florida
160 pages
6 x 9
Cloth: ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-1733-4 ISBN 10: 0-8130-1733-5
Paper: ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-2117-1 ISBN 10: 0-8130-2117-0

Edited and Annotated by

Daniel W. Stowell, Director & Editor
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln

Foreword by Eugene Genovese

For the first time, all the proslavery—but also pro-black—writings of Zephaniah Kingsley (1765-1843) appear together in one volume. Kingsley was a slave trader and the owner of a large plantation near Jacksonville in what was then Spanish East Florida. He married one of his slaves and had children with several others.

While Kingsley eventually emancipated all of his children and their mothers, he became alarmed at the deteriorating status of free blacks after Florida became a territory in 1821. His unusual protest of their treatment, “A Treatise on the Patriarchal System of Society [,as it exists in some governments and colonies in America, and in the United States, under the name of slavery: with its necessity and advantages (1833)],” called for a three-caste society that separated race and class. He envisioned a buffer caste of free people of color between whites and enslaved blacks, but united with whites by economic interests. The treatise simultaneously upheld the legitimacy and necessity of slavery yet assaulted the white southern premise of abject black inferiority.

Daniel Stowell carefully assembles all of Kingsley’s writings on race and slavery to illuminate the evolution of his thought. The intriguing hybrid text of the four editions of the treatise clearly identifies both subtle and substantial differences among the editions. Other extensively annotated documents show how Kingsley’s interracial family and his experiences in various slaveholding societies in the Caribbean and South America influenced his thinking on race, class, and slavery.

In despair of ever changing the slaveholding patterns of Florida, Kingsley finally settled his mixed-race children and several of his slaves in Haiti; however, he left behind more than 80 of his slaves to work his plantations in Florida. When he died, these African Americans remained in bondage, unfortunate victims of hardening American racial attitudes and of Kingsley’s effort to “balance evils judiciously.”

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Persistent Borderland: Freedom and Citizenship in Territorial Florida

Posted in Dissertations, Europe, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2011-08-01 01:41Z by Steven

Persistent Borderland: Freedom and Citizenship in Territorial Florida

Texas A&M University
August 2007
295 pages

Philip Matthew Smith

A Dissertation by Philip Matthew Smith Submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies of Texas A&M University in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in History

Florida’s Spanish borderland was the result of over two hundred and fifty years of cooperation and contention among Indians, Spain, Britain, the United States and Africans who lived with them all. The borderland was shaped by the differing cultural definitions of color and how color affected laws about manumission, miscegenation, legitimacy, citizenship or degrees of rights for free people of color and to some extent for slaves themselves.

The borderland did not vanish after the United States acquired Florida. It persisted in three ways. First, in advocacy for the former Spanish system by some white patriarchs who fathered mixed race families. Free blacks and people of color also had an interest in maintaining their property and liberties. Second, Indians in Florida and escaped slaves who allied with them well knew how whites treated non-whites, and they fiercely resisted white authority. Third, the United States reacted to both of these in the context of fear that further slave revolutions in the Caribbean, colluding with the Indian-African alliance in Florida, might destabilize slavery in the United States.

In the new Florida Territory, Spanish era practices based on a less severe construction of race were soon quashed, but not without the articulate objections of a cadre of whites. Led by Zephaniah Kingsley, their arguments challenged the strict biracial system of the United States. This was a component of the persistent borderland, but their arguments were, in the end, also in the service of slavery and white patriarchy.

The persistent border included this ongoing resistance to strict biracialism, but it was even more distinct because of the Indian-African resistance to the United States that was not in the service of slavery. To defend slavery and whiteness, the United States sent thousands of its military, millions of its treasure, and spent years to subdue the Indian-African alliance and to make Florida and its long shorelines a barrier to protect whiteness and patriarchy in the Deep South.


    • The problem
    • An imaginary line
    • First-contact Florida.
    • First Spanish Period, 1565-1763
    • British Period, 1763-1784
    • Second Spanish Period, 1784-1821
    • The Adams-Onís Treaty, 1818-1821
    • “The Province is as yet such a Blank”
    • First impressions
    • “warm climates are congenial to bad habits.”
    • “There is such a heterogeneous mass here.”
    • Who was in Florida?
    • Appendages and sustenance
    • Who can be a citizen?
    • “no law except the law of force”
    • “the retreat of the opulent, the gay and the fashionable.”
    • Citizenship, lotteries and matrimony
    • Color, race, and subjection of the borderland
    • Borderland or profitable periphery
    • Unlocking the economy
    • Infrastructure
    • “In a Spanish street”
    • “The sickness rages here.”
    • “an added peculiar charm”
    • “ – the land was not theirs, but belonged to the Seminoles”.
    • Natural and unnatural connections
    • “apprehensions of hostilities on our southern border”
    • “a separate and distinct people.”
    • “most exposed, but important frontiers of the Union”
    • “apply force to a much greater extent.”
    • “the horrors of St. Domingo enacted over again in earnest”
    • Liberty for people of color
    • Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. and Anna Madigigine Jai
    • Kingsley’s arguments
    • “this species of our population”
    • “the grand chain of security”
    • “the materials of our own dissolution”
    • Colonization versus naturalization
    • The difference between biracial and multi-tier slavery
    • Memorial to Congress of 1833
    • Leaving Florida for Haiti
    • Other signers
    • Another white advocate
    • Legacy of white advocacy
    • Free blacks in Florida
    • Slavery laws and manumission
    • Free black rights reduced
    • Free blacks resist
    • Mixed families, white allies
    • Parents and children
    • The good old flag of Spain
    • Summary
    • True to our native land
    • The defining feature
    • The insecure Deep South
  • VITA


  1. La Florida, 1584
  2. Drake’s attack on St. Augustine, May 28 and 29, 1586
  3. Spanish missions in Florida, 1680
  4. Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine
  5. Fuerte Negro
  6. East Florida, 1826
  7. Florida, 1834
  8. Kingsley home, Fort George Island
  9. Anna’s house, Fort George Island
  10. Former slave dwellings on Fort George Island
  11. Ruins of Fort George Island slave dwellings


  • 1 Northeast Florida Non-Indian population
  • 2 Non-Spanish immigration to Florida during Second Spanish Period
  • 3 Population of St. Augustine during the Second Spanish Period
  • 4 Percent free blacks to slaves in 1830
  • 5 Percent free blacks to slaves in 1860
  • 6 Pre-emancipation census
  • 7 Free blacks in households, 1830
  • 8 Memorial signers’ households, 1830 and 1840
  • 9 Free blacks as a percent of total population during antebellum years
  • 10 Population of Nassau, Duval and St. Johns counties
  • 11 Black baptisms in St. Augustine, 1784-1821
  • A-1 1820 United States Census
  • A-2 1830 United States Census
  • A-3 1840 United States Census
  • A-4 1850 United States Census
  • A-5 1860 United States Census
  • A-6 1840 Florida Census
  • A-7 1850 Florida Census
  • A-8 1860 Florida Census

Read the entire dissertation here.

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