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231 11  The Seminole War 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 disappointed to learn that “contrary to these expectations, it was discovered that a hostile disposition was still entertained by the Seminole tribe . . . aided by fugitive negroes, and instigated by foreign incendiaries.”1 Most important, as one of the refugees from Prospect Bluff later noted with only a small degree of overstatement,“all of those who had been in the British service” had left Prospect Bluff prior to the explosion and had joined Seminole, Red Stick, or maroon villages and remained deeply committed to protecting their freedom and in their belief that they were British subjects.2 The depth of this commitment , which would last for years, clearly illustrates how fully the former slaves had absorbed Edward Nicolls’s ideas and the extent to which they saw themselves as members of a community bound together by their common status as British subjects, which transcended attachment to a particular place or dwelling. Thus the former slaves constituted an intellectual and political community who had rejected slavery as a social system. The maroons maintained close ties to proxies acting on behalf of Nicolls, which intensified these beliefs.3 Likewise, as late as the time of official annexation of Florida to the United States in 1821, the Seminoles and Red Sticks remained steadfast that “we consider ourselves allies of Great Britain entitled to full benefit[s] . . . when the British evacuated the Floridas . . . we were expressly informed so by . . . Colonel Nicolls.”4 As a result, the Indians were deeply embittered after having suffered American encroachments, which the Red Sticks in particular regarded as violating Article 9 of the Treaty of Ghent. The views of the Prospect Bluff refugees and the Seminoles and Red Sticks affirmed the The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and Their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World 232  analysis of the Niles Weekly Register that Nicolls and Woodbine were the“real authors of the [Seminole] war.”5 Similarly, the Army and Navy Chronicle’s assessment was that the destruction of the fort at Prospect Bluff was the“first and perhaps one of the most hazardous expeditions of the Seminole War.”6 Nicolls’s black and Indian allies would soon become the main anti-American combatants in the Seminole War as well as the primary cause of the conflict.7 However, the survivors from Prospect Bluff first needed to regroup and rebuild their community. Angola For decades many southeastern Indians,along with their black allies or slaves, had spent the winter months hunting in the colony’s thinly populated southwestern forests and swamps. During the Patriot War hundreds of Florida’s black defenders had removed themselves from the reach of American aggression by setting up permanent settlements at the Braden-Manatee River Junction .8 The members of the settlement, which came to be known as Angola, hunted and grew crops in lush surroundings and were part of an extended trade network. Angola’s most important trade partners were Seminoles and Cuban fishermen, who provided the community with access to the greater Caribbean and Atlantic world.9 Angola was a maroon community that appears to have had much in common with the one at Prospect Bluff. Unfortunately , given the paucity of sources, it is difficult to discern much more about Angola from the historical record. It is clear that Angola was a large and prosperous agricultural settlement that enjoyed close relations with the Seminoles and Red Sticks. However, there is virtually no surviving evidence about the community’s government, culture, or daily activities. It is probable that members of Angola had joined Nicolls and Woodbine’s force during the War of 1812. It is equally likely that the community at Prospect Bluff had traded withAngola and that some members had moved there before the fort’s destruction. Beyond a doubt is that many refugees from the maroon community fled to Angola after the American-led assault on Prospect Bluff.10 Presumably they were welcomed as skilled farmers, craftsmen, and warriors who shared with the inhabitants of Angola a common history and the goal of freedom. Thus one stream of refugees from Prospect Bluff began to rebuild...


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MARC Record
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