From the start, "American liberty" had been a contradiction, a promise that excluded both African and Native Americans. Fittingly, its birth in the late 1700s also gave rise to its shadow -- a community of blacks and Indians on the southern frontier who united to pursue their own self-interests and ideals.
By the close of the century, black-Indian relations were taking a new direction in Florida. Seminoles had increased their ties to free blacks. Even more intriguingly, the Indians were said to be holding black slaves. Rumor had it that these "slaves," however, followed their own leaders, bore arms, and lived in towns apart from their Indian masters.
What kind of slavery was this where the bondsmen bore arms? And what kind of society was taking shape in Florida, where quasi-free blacks were living with Seminole Indians? Could this society possibly contend with its powerful new enemy to the north?
The answers emerge from the fascinating life and times of John Horse.