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The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and Their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World

Nathaniel Millett

Publication Year: 2013

Nathaniel Millett examines how the Prospect Bluff maroons constructed their freedom, shedding light on the extent to which they could fight physically and intellectually to claim their rights. Millett considers the legacy of the Haitian Revolution, the growing influence of abolitionism, and the period’s changing interpretations of race, freedom, and citizenship among whites, blacks, and Native Americans.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-iv


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p. vii-vii

List of Figures

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p. ix-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

There are many friends, family members, and colleagues who deserve thanks for their role in this project. During its early research stages I spent a year in Gainesville working at the truly extraordinary P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History. Fitz Brundage, chair of the University of Florida’s history department at the time, was very welcoming, as were David Geggus and Jon ...


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p. xiv-xiv

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pp. 1-11

The Apalachicola River twists and turns lazily through the Florida Panhandle as it makes its way toward the Gulf of Mexico. Along its banks in present day Franklin County lies Prospect Bluff, situated fifteen miles from the Gulf and forty miles south of Tallahassee in a remote area densely covered in sandy flatwoods, with stands of sixty-foot-high longleaf pines, black ...

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1. Edward Nicolls and the Problem of War and Slavery in the Age of Revolution

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pp. 12-30

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison called on Congress to declare war.1 His message recounted a decade of alleged American grievances suffered at the hands of Great Britain, including impressment, blockades, the Orders-in- Council, and the renewal of Indian warfare on the western frontier. The House of Representatives passed the bill within three days. The Senate ...

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2. War Comes to the Southeast

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pp. 31-47

Britain’s grand military design in the Deep South revolved around a multi-pronged attack on New Orleans.1 British military planners rightly believed that if their force could take New Orleans, they would deal the United States a severe if not decisive blow. The city’s great wealth (cotton worth 3.5 million pounds sterling sat blockaded there) enhanced the appeal of New Orleans ...

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3. The British Occupation of Pensacola

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pp. 48-73

Upon arriving at Prospect Bluff, Edward Nicolls and his men found only a small detachment left behind by George Woodbine, who had recently gone to Pensacola. Woodbine had taken relief supplies to Pensacola at the desperate request of the bulk of the surviving Red Sticks, who were encamped near the city and amounted to nearly two thousand men, women, and ...

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4. Edward Nicolls and the Indians of the Southeast

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pp. 74-96

As a result of Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Pensacola, the British modified their plans to invade New Orleans in favor of a direct assault on the city. According to the new plans, Edward Nicolls and George Woodbine were to launch raids across the interior of Georgia as a means to distract American forces from their new base at Prospect Bluff, which was now the center of ...

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5. Edward Nicolls and His Black Allies

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pp. 97-126

During the winter and spring of 1815 Edward Nicolls’s anti-slavery plans entered a new and more radical phase at the same time that he was advocating on behalf of the Red Sticks and Seminoles. Remarkably, Nicolls’s actions with his black recruits were bolder than his actions with his Indian allies and would have repercussions for years to come. Each step in Nicolls’s ...

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6. Land, Ecology, and Size

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pp. 127-146

William Hambly of Forbes and Company swiftly departed Prospect Bluff because he no longer “wished to stay . . . at the head of a band of uppity rogues like the negros.”1 Soon he was joined by the Seminoles and Red Sticks, who returned to their villages, leaving hundreds of “negros [who] are saucy and insolent, and say they are all free” in charge of the fort at Prospect Bluff ...

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7. Community and Culture

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pp. 147-171

Advantageously positioned at Prospect Bluff, hundreds of maroons constructed a vibrant community. The Prospect Bluff community came to display a variation of maroon culture that had both commonalities and differences when compared with examples of marronage from across the hemisphere. The greatest general similarity between Prospect Bluff and other ...

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8. Daily Life

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pp. 172-194

During the maroon community’s existence, Prospect Bluff was a hotbed of daily activity. The former slaves built and maintained their homes, tended their fields, hunted, and participated in an exchange economy that impacted the region. Establishing a functioning economy was easier for the Prospect Bluff maroons than was the case for many other communities across the ...

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9. Political and Military Organization

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pp. 195-213

In a sense the maroons had achieved freedom as soon as they escaped their bondage and certainly by the time they had arrived at Prospect Bluff and begun to form a community. However, the primary goal of the community was much more than achieving freedom by escaping to the Florida wilderness and carving out a simple survivalist existence. Rather the maroons at Prospect ...

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10. Destruction

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pp. 214-230

The maroon community at Prospect Bluff was a conspicuous example of slave resistance that inspired both hope and fear among the different inhabitants of the Southeast. White Americans, their Creek allies, and the Spanish saw the community as a powerful spur to slave flight and, more frightening, as encouragement, if not overt incitement, for armed slave rebellion. The ...

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11. The Seminole War

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pp. 231-249

The destruction of the fort at Prospect Bluff was a blow to black and Indian resistance in the Southeast and a tremendous victory for Anglo America’s centuries-long effort to end the perceived threat of racial disorder originating in Spanish Florida. However, the victory was not nearly as total as many had imagined. Americans and their allies were soon to be bitterly ...

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pp. 250-260

The 1821 transfer of the Floridas to the United States was yet another blow to the blacks and Indians of the region as the advantageous conditions created by Spanish rule became a memory. This major setback was compounded when Andrew Jackson was appointed as Florida’s territorial governor. Acting in direct defiance of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, Jackson’s ...


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pp. 261-320


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pp. 321-337


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pp. 339-345

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About the Author

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p. 346-346

Nathaniel Millett teaches at Saint Louis University. His research interests include the Atlantic World and borderlands of colonial and Revolutionary ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048390
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044545

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Maroons -- Florida -- Franklin County -- History.
  • Black Seminoles -- Florida -- Franklin County -- History.
  • Seminole Indians -- Florida -- Franklin County -- African influences.
  • Slavery -- Florida -- Franklin County -- History.
  • African Americans -- Florida -- Franklin County -- Relations with Indians.
  • Nicolls, Edward.
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