Hidden away in the marshes of St. Augustine, Florida is one of the most important sites in American history: the first free community of ex-slaves, founded in 1738 and called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose or Fort Mose (pronounced Moh-Say). More than a century before the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves from the British colonies were able to follow the original “Underground Railroad” which headed not to the north, but rather south, to the Spanish colony of Florida. Established in 1738 by Colonial Spanish Florida’s Governor Manuel Montiano, Fort Mose gave sanctuary to Africans challenging enslavement in the English Colony of Carolina. Approximately 100 Africans lived at Fort Mose, forming more than 20 households. Together they created a frontier community which drew on a range of African backgrounds blended with Spanish, Native American and English cultural traditions. A Maroon Fort Mose, a maroon community, was legally sanctioned by the Spanish Government making it the first free African settlement to legally exist in the United States.
St. Augustine, Florida founded in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, is the Oldest European City in what became the United States. Africans helped in forming and maintaining the settlement as both slaves and free people. Skills and knowledge gained from Africa including blacksmithing, carpentry, cattleranching, and military techniques enabled African people to make important contributions to the St Augustine community. They formed 12% of the population, 1 of every 5 was a free person.
By 1738 there were 100 blacks, mostly runaways from the Carolinas, living in what became Fort Mose. Many were skilled workers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cattlemen, boatmen, and farmers. With accompanying women and children, they created a colony of freed people that ultimately attracted other fugitive slaves. When war broke out in 1740 between England and Spain, the people of St. Augustine and nearby Fort Mose found themselves involved in a conflict that stretched across three continents. The English sent thousands of soldiers and dozens of ships to destroy St. Augustine and bring back any runaways. They set up a blockade and bombarded the town for 27 consecutive days. Hopelessly outnumbered, the diverse population of blacks, Indians and whites pulled together. Fort Mose was one of the first places attacked. Lead by Captain Francisco Menendez, the men of the Fort Mose Militia briefly lost the Fort but eventually recaptured it, repelling the English invasion force. Florida remained in Spanish hands and for the next 80 years remained a haven for fugitive slaves from the British colonial possessions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and later when these possessions became part of the United States. –
Haki Shakur 3-24-51ADM
AUGUST THIRD COMMUNIST ORG – NAPLA(New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army) – AMAZONS -NAIM