Had John Horse sold out?
to main trail
Did John Horse sell out? This is an interesting and complicated
question. Porter analyzes one aspect of the situation:
But why would John, who for more than two years had fiercely resisted compulsory removal, willingly assist the military? One explanation (besides his stated desire to locate missing family members) was that he owed no allegiance to the bands that remained in Florida. The Alachuas and those chiefs with whom he was closest, Alligator and Holatoochee, had given up. Even Holatoochee was openly cooperating with the whites. Furthermore, his friend Wild Cat was operating in the St. Johns area, far from where John was located.
In the end, many of the Seminole Indian chiefs "sold out," in that they accepted fees (some might say bribes) from the Army in exchange for surrendering and then using their influence to bring in their followers. As paid operatives of the Army, John Horse and other black interpreters fell into this category as well. Without doubt, by the 1840s the blacks had no collective advantage from siding with the remaining Indians in Florida, and so they opportunistically threw their lot with the Army.
Reactions to their behavior were mixed. Notably, Coacoochee never seemed to hold their role against
them. Other militants did, burning one black interpreter at the stake and
attempting to kill others in the Indian Territory.
To the extent that the blacks had always fought for their own self-interests, they could not be said to have sold out. Increasingly, however, blacks found fewer reasons to strengthen their alliance with the Indians. At any rate, pragmatism, and not romantic notions of brotherhood, had always been at the heart of the African-Seminole alliance.
Porter Black 99, Mahon 315. ©
Part 3, Exile: l