Rebellion 1838     
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Gen. Edmund Gaines
General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, one of the high-ranking army officers who defended the  freedom of the Black Seminoles under the war powers. Gaines fought the Seminole allies in three major engagements and knew them as well as any white commander. Photo from the 1840s, attributed to Matthew Brady's studio. Florida Photographic Collection.
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Jesup’s emancipation under the war powers created controversy. As Black Seminoles started to emigrate west in 1838, slaveholders attempted to advance legal claims on them. Both the Secretary of War and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs supported the claimants, writing to the army on behalf of agents seeking to “recover” Black Seminoles for slaveholders. In the face of this high-level intervention, army officers showed firm resolve, steadfastly supporting freedom for the maroons. When asked to help an agent gain title to a group of Black Seminoles who had surrendered, General Zachary Taylor, though himself a slaveholder, refused, writing that he could not “for a moment consent to meddle in this transaction,” which would tend to reduce the Black Seminoles “from a comparative state of freedom to that of slavery.” When the same claim resulted in a court case in New Orleans, no less than General Edmund Gaines defended the Black Seminoles. Gaines offered a spirited justification of their legal status as prisoners under control of the army according to the laws of war. The judge rejected Gaines’ arguments, but the claimants dropped the case on appeal and the maroons reached the Indian Territory.

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Sources: Taylor to Adjutant General Jones, June 2, 1838, House Document 25.3 225: 30, Giddings Exiles 208, Twyman 136-37. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 - Freedom: 1850-1882
+ Cost of Freedom
+ Liberty Foretold
spacer spacer Renown in Exile
The War Power
Lincoln's Choice
Black Militants
+ Liberty Found
 + Legacy & Conclusion