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Afro-Indian Abraham

25 December 1835
Abraham, the Black Seminole
Wikimedia Commons

Because slave-run plantations in Florida lay at the edge of Indian lands, there was frequent contact between fugitive slaves, free blacks and Indians of the local Seminole tribe. 'Black Seminoles' were the result of these interethnic contacts. In the 1830s, the Seminoles and their black allies were to be deported to the western Indian territory. When the time came actually to depart, they resisted. On 25 December 1835, they rose in a series of concerted attacks on 21 sugar plantations and launched a war against the US government. Their lesser numbers dictated guerilla tactics. They managed to hold out in the swamps for two years but eventually the Black Seminole leader Abraham gave up and wrote a letter of surrender to the US general: 'We do not live for ourselves only, but for our wives and children who are as dear to us as those of any other men.  When we reach our new home we hope we shall be permitted to remain while the woods remain green and the water runs. I have charge of all the red people ....and all are satisfied to go to Arkansaw.'

From Jane G. Landers, Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions (Cambridge Ma 2010)