“While the War of 1812 raged on between the British and American soldiers, a fort had been built in Spanish controlled Florida for the purpose of garrisoning British troops. This fort had a considerable black population, mainly composed of escaped slaves and free men. Choctaw and Seminole tribe members also resided within the fort. By 1815, the British soldiers decided to withdraw their presence from Negro Fort and move on. However, as a means of sabotaging future U.S. efforts to move into Florida, the British left the black population fully armed. This would ensure that the fortress would be able to maintain its independence from the United States, at least so they believed. Negro Fort, outside of the reach of the U.S government, quickly became a haven for slaves in America who sought to escape from their bonds.
Any slave who was able to reach this territory would have true freedom. The community surrounding the fort flourished, as many slaves were quite familiar with farming methods and were able to sustain their population without problem. Heavily armed and autonomous, this community made many anti-abolitionists in the United States worried. Here was an example of free black men and women living well, taking care of themselves and managing their communities which could inspire more slaves to escape.
This could also have potentially led to stronger arguments for abolition. Such a place was decried as dangerous and there was considerable pressure on the government to act against the fort.
Andrew Jackson, then the Secretary of War, had no favorable things to say about the fort. Instead, he pushed for the Spanish government to neutralize the place. Without a reply from the Spanish, Jackson gave the order for General Edmund Gaines to destroy Negro Fort…”
“On July 27, 1816, Negro Fort found itself embroiled in military conflict. One of the commanders of the fort, Garcon, told emissaries that they would not surrender, no matter what. They raised the British flag high, as well as a red flag. This flag symbolized what the 330 soldiers stationed at the Fort believed in. They would fight without quarter and they would rather die than become slaves again.”
In the end, the US government destroyed the fort, killed the majority of the fort occupants and sold the survivors back into slavery. Not a happy ending.
How long did did the Negro Fort defend itself before succumbing to US forces?