Rebellion March 1838     
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Engraving commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation
Engraving depicting the second, and better known, emancipation of Southern slaves, under Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. See the next slide to learn how Lincoln's act drew on the history of  the Black Seminoles. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-2573.
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Jesup's Proclamation slide tickerslide ticker

Since arriving in Florida, Jesup had sought to divide the blacks from the Indians. Now, to accomplish his goal, he was ready to give the black warriors what they had been fighting for all along: freedom. To this end, he issued the surprising order,

"[T]hat all Negroes the property of the Seminole...who...delivered themselves up to the Commanding Officer of the Troops should be free."

It was remarkable. By making a battlefield decision to offer freedom to blacks who surrendered, Jesup enacted the first and only emancipation of rebellious blacks on American soil prior to the Civil War. The largest, most organized, and most violent slave uprising in U.S. history had produced a concession of freedom. In essence, the Black Seminole portion of the uprising was a victory.

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Sources: Porter Black 95, Mulroy 31, Rivers 205, Mahon 205, Twyman 130-131, Littlefield Seminoles 26-7. The language comes from Porter's citation of John Horse's freedom certificate (the "Freedom certificate of John Cohai and his wife, 30 April 1840," see Porter Black 234), as it was affirmed by Zachary Taylor and recorded in U.S. Army records.
Part 2, War: Outline  l  Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 - War: 1832-1838
+ Prelude to War
+ Revenge
+ Deceit
+ Liberty or Death
spacer spacer Captivity
Noble Savages
Liberty or Death
Osceola's Death
Star of the Nation
Jesup's Proclamation
The Decision
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 + Freedom: 1850-1882
 + Legacy & Conclusion