A few months after this information came up; John M. Goggin released additional information and offered new insight on the community. The Bahamian Department of Archives published additional documentary evidence in 1980 regarding Seminole Settlements at Red Bays, Andros. It took another decade before the link between the Bahamian exiles and the old Florida homes of the slaves was established. Another author offered details where neighboring Cuban fishermen identified a community with the name Angola, which had existed as a focus for diplomatic and economic activities within the broader Atlantic world.
He argued that its presence additionally had created impacts that influenced the course of United States history and, to a lesser extent, the British and Spanish Empires. Some basic facts of the story are shortly after English planters, primarily from Barbados, found what is now known as South Carolina in 1670; Spanish colonial officials decided to weaken, if not destroy, the Carolinian initiative. They did this by attempting to undermine an economy that based itself on slave labor while also commanding efforts to grant greater protection for St.
Augustine against English incursions. Authorities addressed the latter goal in part by construction of the massive stone fortress still known as the Castillo de San Marcos and, in 1683; they initiated a black military service tradition through authorization of the colony’s first free black and mulatto militia companies. In 1683 the government granted freedom to runaway slaves from Carolina, regardless of race, as long as the runaways agreed to convert to Roman Catholicism.
This was a crucial step toward the goal of undermining Carolinian slavery. The book also talks about another initiative that involved the authorization of a free black town located north of St. Augustine; this was caused by the founding of Georgia in the early 1730’s. The Patriot War of 1812-1814 involved Georgians teaming with several individuals who had arrived in East Florida from the United States since the Revolutionary War in their attempt to overthrow Spanish rule in the colony; they were unsuccessful.
In September 1812, Seminoles and their black vassals, allied with Spain to turn back a Patriot advance. After this, English plans moved toward the introduction of chattel slavery into the colony. This resulted in the dispersal of the majority of its few remaining free black inhabitants to small settlements in the remote peninsula, with many maroons associating with Seminole Indians, who were also recent arrivals from Georgia. In 1784, Spain returned to power which brought reinstatement of the asylum policy, and a rise in Florida’s maroon population.
Fort Mose however, remained an abandoned ruin, and for the time being, no equivalent community rose within the colony. After the Patriot War, black refugees hurried themselves into the Manatee River because the site of their black settlement there was located on a point of land at the Braden-Manatee River. At the Manatee, the refugees took advantage of opportunities for trading deer skins, plumes, and agricultural crops for desired goods. There were also relatively easy channels of communication to Spanish officials at Havana and elsewhere at this spot.
Records left by two of the Cuban fishermen preserved the name of the black community, Angola. Although these blacks got to the Manatee River in 1812, the book suggests that they may have lived there for years before this; at least on a seasonal basis. There was a letter found from an English merchant that supports the possibility that the maroons had centered their activities in the area of the Manatee River as early as 1772. It described the keys to the south of Tampa Bay as the “haunt of the picaroons of all nations. As Angola inhabitants built their community, word of their existence spread not just within the Spanish Empire but also to the British. Two officers, Edward Nicolls and George Woodbine, recruited men there for British operations along the Gulf coast during the War of 1812. Following the Battle of New Orleans in January of 1815, Nicolls and Woodbine managed to enlist about 400 black warriors in Florida and returned most of their men to the Apalachicola River area. Upstream at Prospect Bluff, they had facilitated construction of a fortified outpost, known as the Negro Fort.
The two officers had also created Florida’s second free-black refuge of the period while likely enhanced Angola’s population. Surviving papers of the merchant concern John Forbes & Company hinted at Woodbine’s possible return to that vicinity in 1815 with eighty “slaves. ” There was a raid in 1821 that destroyed the Angola community. Brown talks about records available today that contain subtle references that suggest that the memories of the 1821 raid remained vivid in survivors’ minds just as the recollections of the Battle of the Suwannee did.
There was an interview by Jan Carew; with one of the descendants on Andros in 1972 about memories of the battle where she said “I heard ‘bout the battle of Swannee against General Jackson, my grandmother tell me ‘bout it and her grandmother tell her ‘bout it long before,”. She continued to say “Stories like that does come down to us with voices in the wind, she tell me how the Old Ones used to talk ‘bout the look on them white soldiers faces when they see Black fighters looking like they grow outta the swamp grass and the hammocks, coming at them with gun and cutlass.
Jackson get hurt at the Swannee man. The ancestors brutalized him there. ” She concluded by saying that “My old face beat against eighty-odd years. . . . But when Jesus of Nazareth decide to send Mantop to carry me to the Great Beyond, wherever my blood-seed scatter, they will spread the word ‘bout how Black and Seminole ancestors fight side by side at Swannee. ” In 1835 there was a battle between the maroon and their allies known as the Creeks; and the Angolans.
The well-equipped Angolans made their stand and this lead up to the Second Seminole War’s outbreak spreading from the Peace River’s headwaters west to Tampa Bay and north to the border of a white settlement. The Creeks were led by Peter McQueen’s nephew Osceol, while Minatti’s war chief Harry carried on the military heritage for generations earlier by Francisco Menendez and others. When battle started in December, it quickly became apparent that it was far more than an Indian war because of the amount of blacks participating. As General Thomas S.
Jesup declared in 1836, “This . . . is a negro war, not an Indian war. ” The general added, “Throughout my operations I found the negroes the most active and determined warriors, and during the conferences with the Indian chiefs I ascertained that they exercised an almost controlling influence over them. ” When Andrew Jackson left the presidency in March 1837, the maroons remained in Florida and at war. At one point historians questioned how the Seminoles obtained enough weapons and supplies to launch a resistance campaign in the mid-1830s.
It was actually the free blacks and Red Stick Creeks; not the Seminoles, who utilized connections of past days to obtain the necessary equipment for war. There was also a question of how they could do so when their peninsular reservation kept them from the coast? The answer to this question is answered by the fact that many of the same Cuban fishermen who had lived near the Angolans worked at Charlotte Harbor in the early 1830s.
In 1835, these old business associates of the Angolans even managed to have the area’s United States customs inspector suspended, leaving the door wide open for whatever transfers were needed. As Second Seminole War expert John K. Mahon noted, “Every warrior seemed to have a rifle, and a superior one at that. ” Brown also noted that future researchers may well discover the origins of those firearms in British or Spanish armories, dispatched to Florida by high-ranking officials in recognition of past valor, imperial promises, and pressures applied by Edward Nicolls, George Woodbine, or their friends.