Hadn't the U.S. Army granted legal freedom to John Horse and his family?
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On two occasions, the U.S. Army had guaranteed freedom for John Horse and his family. In 1840, Zachary Taylor vouchsafed for their liberty, writing that,
"John Cohai and his wife indian negroes gave themselves up to me under the orders given by Bvt General
Jesup .... which set forth that all Negroes the property of the Seminole ... who ... delivered themselves up to the Commanding Office of the Troops should be free."
Colonel Worth reaffirmed their freedom in 1842, writing that "Gofer John, his wife and increase" were free.
But Attorney General Mason's 1848 decision overruled these promises on the grounds that they were illegal to begin with. John Horse himself retained his freedom, since the tribe had officially recognized it in 1843 and he did not have to rely solely on government promises. His family, however, had no legal
guarantees. They were at the mercy of the new Seminole leaders.
Porter Black 106, Littlefield 123-25. ©
Part 3, Exile: l