The impact that both the contrabands and the Black Seminoles
had on emancipation brings to light one of the buried themes of
American history, the effectiveness of black militancy. The
contrabands offer the best demonstration of
successful black militancy against U.S. slavery; after them,
there is no finer example than the Black
Seminoles, who won the country's first offer of freedom for
rebel blacks not through the benevolence and idealism of
white rulers, but through the forceful assertion of black rights
and interests. The quasi-legal emancipation of the
Black Seminoles and some of their allies in 1838 was only
indirectly related to the general southern emancipation
of 1863, and yet the later event vindicated the courage,
perseverance, and vision of the black militants in Florida.
And it confirmed the historical and moral vision of those
nineteenth-century Americans, like Joshua Reed Giddings,
Frederick Douglass, and an array of top-ranking federal army
officers, who drew inspiration from the
Black Seminoles and their story.
Sources: Garrison Abolition of Slavery 24.
Part 4, Freedom: l