Black Seminoles

Black Seminoles (Mascogos, Seminole Freedmen) were freed black and fugitive slaves, who integrated within Seminole society. They instigated the largest slave rebellion in US history between 1835-1838. They are distributed throughout the US, but major communities can be found in Wewoka, Oklahoma, South Texas towns of Brackettville and Del Rio, Nacimiento and Coahuila in Mexico, and Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Origins and History

The history of black Seminoles begins with the Spanish passing laws granting freedom to runaway slaves in 1687, with the intention of undermining the economic interest of the English in Georgia and the Carolinas. Runaway slaves were of diverse backgrounds. Some were tradesmen, field hands, and newly arrived slaves from Africa. They resided in areas near St. John's River, west of St. Augustine; near Seminole towns in the north and central peninsula in present-day Alachua, Hernando, Leon and Levy counties; They settled among the Creek and Seminoles, who eventually accepted them as fellow indians. Some of the blacks were slaves of the Seminoles, but were not treated as chattel. They were more like tenant farmers who paid tribute in produce to the land owners and served in a military capacity when needed by the Seminole master. Overtime Black Seminoles began acquiring the custom of Seminole Indians. 

Between 1835-1842 in Florida, Africans allied with Seminole Indians instigated an indian/slave rebellion. Andrew Jackson had the US Congress pass the Indian Removal Act which would have removed all Seminoles from Florida to the West. The intention was also to return the Black Seminoles to plantation slavery. This was un-acceptable to Indian and Black Seminole. Seminoles decided to rebel. 

Planning for the revolt had its beginnings in 1835 with black Seminole leaders meeting with slaves-- field hands, urban, and house slaves. Many slaves run away to participate in the Second Seminole War. 385 slaves fought alongside black and Seminole Indians destroying 21 sugar plantation. The US military was unable to put down the insurrection. It was diplomacy that won out in the end. The Seminole Indians finally decided to move out West, with the promise of land and freedom from slavery.

Back West, they were used as trackers and guides. Some served in the U.S. military. One group lead by Gopher John emmigrated to Mexico. They were known as Mascogos

Prominent Black Seminoles

Chief Abraham
John Horse
King Payne
Gopher John

Related Articles: Zambo, Freedmen, Garifuna, Miskito

Works Cited

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