A guide prepared by Craig Likness, January 2001

Sprague, John Titcomb, 1810-1878.  The origin, progress, and conclusion of the Florida war; to which is appended a record of officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates of the U. S. army, navy, and marine corps, who were killed in battle or died of disease . . . .   New York:  D. Appleton & company, c1847, 1848.

Rembert W. Patrick in his Editorial Preface to the Floridiana Facsimile and Reprint Series edition states:  “By the middle of the eighteenth century some native Americans, thrust from their ancestral lands by the move-or-die policy of British colonists, found homes in Spanish Florida.  Unlike most of their displaced brothers, the Seminole Indians bought Negroes and gave haven to escaped slaves.  But the Seminole was an easy master.  After the War of 1812 Seminole and Negro were more nearly partners than master and slave.  In the First Seminole War the United States Army invaded the Spanish colony to chastise both Negro and Indian in a conflict that did much to persuade Spain to cede the Floridas to the United States.

The federal government first attempted to confine the Seminoles and Negroes to a specified area in Florida, and then tried to move them to a reservation located west of the Mississippi River.  The second effort and the aggressiveness of white men, who made false as well as legitimate claims to ownership of the Seminoles’ Negroes, brought on the Second Seminole War.  This longest and most costly of all American Indian wars was a seven-year campaign of United States regulars and state militia against mobile forces of Seminole and Negro warriors . . . .

Commissioned and non-commissioned officers penned memoirs of the second, the real Seminole-Negro war.  The most comprehensive of these accounts, one which combined personal experiences and research, was written by John Titcomb Sprague.”

John K. Mahon notes in his Introductory that Sprague made “. . .very clear the fact that the Negroes had much to lose and little to gain if the Seminoles were expelled from Florida.  His narrative shows how they joined with the Indians, especially at the start, to resist the forcible emigration.  The narrative shows, too, that the Negroes exerted decisive influence upon the Indians.”

Spec Coll Florida E 83.835 .S77 1848.  Additional copies available in the Special Collections Department.
Richter Stacks copy E 83.835 S77


Giddings, Joshua R., 1795-1864.  The exiles of Florida: or, The crimes committed by our government against the maroons, who fled from South Carolina and other slave states, seeking protection under Spanish laws.  Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1858.

Florida has always been a refuge for exiles.  First, Native Americans were pushed out of present-day Georgia and the Carolinas.  Then as early as the late 18th century Negro slaves escaped from bondage in the same regions finding exile in Spanish Florida as well.  Arthur Thompson notes in this Introductory to the Floridiana Facsimile and Reprint Series edition that:  “The publication of the Exiles of Florida in 1858 climaxed a twenty-year political career which had catapulted Joshua Giddings into national prominence.  The book was in the nature of a report to his Congressional constituents, indeed to the public at large.  More than that, it was a propaganda piece designed to simulate antislavery sentiment in the country.  Its central themes relate to the experiences of the fugitive slaves, those who escaped from the Carolinas and Georgia to Florida, as well as to both state and national efforts to recapture them – efforts culminating in the Seminole wars.”

Today, most scholars assert that Giddings based his book on good historical research that was not undermined by his abolitionist objectives.  It is likely that Giddings’s pronounced antislavery views influenced Abraham Lincoln, who was a close friend.  Lincoln knew Giddings’s writings well.

Abraham was a runaway Negro slave from Pensacola, the property for many years of Micanopy, chief of the Seminole Nation.  Before the Seminole War began, he was the principal interpreter between the Seminoles and the whites.  According to Joseph Motte, Abraham served as an able advisor to Micanopy and exercised as much influence in the Seminole councils as did the principal chiefs of the nation.

Spec Coll Florida E 83.817 .G45 1858.  Additional copies available in the Special Collections Department.
Richter Stacks copy E 83.817 .G45


Walker, Jonathan, 1799-1878.  Trial and imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, at Pensacola, Florida, for aiding slaves to escape from bondage.  With an appendix, containing a sketch of his life.  Boston:  Pub. At the Anti-slavery office, 1845.

“Trial and Imprisonment” is Walker’s memoir of his Florida experiences.  Jonathan Walker resided in Pensacola, Florida from 1836 until 1841 at which time he left as a matter of conscience over slavery.  He returned to Pensacola by boat in 1844 to transact business and upon leaving took seven slaves with him with the intent of freeing them.  He was seized and put in prison.  He was tried, put in a pillory, assaulted with rotten eggs, and branded with S S for slave stealer.   Walker’s memoir served as an influential document for the abolitionist movement and has been compared to Frederick Douglass’s autobiography.  Both men shared the same speaking platform on occasion.  Walker was in great demand as a speaker because of the Florida branding incident.  Joe Richardson in his Introduction to the Floridiana Facsimile and Reprint Series edition notes that “the author made numerous enlightened observations about slavery and white attitudes in Florida . . . .”  Richardson recommends the title as an especially valuable primary resource for Florida history.

Spec Coll Florida E 450 .W15.  Additional copies available in the Special Collections Department.
Richter Stacks copy E 450 .W15

Also available in the Special Collections Department is “The Branded Hand,” published around 1850 at call number E 450 .W17 Florida Collection.  It is a four-page tract that offers an account of the Jonathan Walker incident, the John Greenleaf Whittier poem “The Branded Hand,” and another brief antislavery tract.  For many years, the Whittier poem was memorized and recited by American school children.


Porter, Kenneth W.  The Black Seminoles:  history of a freedom-seeking people, revised and edited by Alcione M. Amos and Thomas P. Senter.  Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 1996.

Twyman, Bruce Edward.  The Black Seminole legacy and North American politics, 1693-1845.  Washington D.C.:  Howard University Press, 1999.

Littlefield, Daniel F., Jr.  Africans and Seminoles:  from removal to Emancipation.  Westport CT:  Greenwood Press, 1977.

In addition to examining the Black Seminole role in the Second Seminole War, Porteralso discusses their forced removal to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the 1840’s and the exodus to Mexico in the 1850’s.  Some Black Seminoles returned to Texas in the 1870’s and scouted for the U.S. Army.  Edwin Bearss, noted historian of the National Park Service, considers this book “must reading for anyone interested in the vibrant and exciting history of John Horse and his followers.  From the swamps and savannas of Florida to the Indian territory, on to Mexico and finally Texas, these people stood tall in their fight for freedom and dignity.”  Also important for the study of the Second Seminole War is John K. Mahon’s History of the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842 Spec Coll Florida and Richter Stacks E 83.835 .M3.

Spec Coll Florida copy E 99 .S28 P67 1996

Twyman studies the relationship between the Black Seminoles and the political policies of Spain, Britain, and the United States between 1693 and 1845.  He places them in the broader context of slave rebels throughout the region, noting especially Richard Price’s hemispheric study Maroon societies:  rebel slave communities in the Americas (Richter Stacks/Reserves HT 1048 .P74.)

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 T87 1999

Littlefield’s book makes an important contribution to the study of the Indian and African removal from Florida between the Second Seminole War and the Civil War.

Spec Coll Florida E 99 .S28 L57
Richter Stacks copy E 99 .S28 L57


Landers, Jane.  Black society in Spanish Florida.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Peter Wood in his Introduction to Lander’s book states:  “Few of us know much about the Nature of life in Florida under Spanish rule, and few have a clear sense of the aggressive expansionism of southern slave holders at the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Similarly, few people have a clear sense of the steady ties between early Florida and the Caribbean, in particular the nearby island of Cuba.  One of the largest virtues of this book, therefore, is that it links English and Spanish colonial history, reaching across the southern border in way that few other historians have been equipped to do . . . .  Moreover, Landers’s work also helps to bridge the gap in understanding which still separates black and white inhabitants of the early Southeast.”  This book is an important contribution to the study of the Spanish Borderlands as well as Blacks in Florida history.

Spec Coll Florida copy F 320 .N4 L36 1999


Rivers, Larry Eugene.  Slavery in Florida:  territorial days to emancipation.  Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 2000.

From the publisher:  “Starting with an overview of the institution as it evolved during the Spanish and English periods, [the author] looks at the slave experience, noting the characteristics of slavery in the Middle Florida plantation belt (the more traditional slave-based, cotton-growing economy and society) as distinct from East and West Florida (which maintained some attitudes and traditions of Spain.)  He examines the slave family, religion, resistance activity, slaves’ participation in the Civil War, and their social interaction with whites, Indians, other slaves, and masters.  Rivers also provides a dramatic account of the hundreds of armed free blacks and runaways among the Seminole, Creek , and Mikasuki Indians on the peninsula, whose presence created tensions leading to the great slave rebellion, the Second Seminole War (1835-42.)”

Spec Coll Florida copy E 445.F6 R58 2000
Richter Stacks copy E 445 .F6 R58 2000


Smith Julia Floyd.  Slavery and plantation growth in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1860.  Gainesville:  University of Florida Press, 1973.

The focus of this respected study is the region of Florida including Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, and a portion of Hamilton counties.  The author uses a wide range of primary resources including deed records, census returns, tax rolls, and selected interviews from the Florida Slave Narrative Collection.

Spec Coll Florida E 445 .F6 S65.  Additional copy available in the Special Collections Department.
Richter Stacks copy E 445 .F6 S65


Jones, George Noble, b. 1821.  Florida plantation records from the papers of George Noble Jones, edited by Ulrich Bonnell Phillips and James David Glunt.  St. Louis:  Missouri Historical Society, 1927.

Phillips, the editor of this collection of primary material, makes the following interesting assessment:  “The present-day [circa 1927] interest of historical students in the plantation regime is essentially a revival.  The major historians of the West Indies in the eighteenth century were much absorbed by it; contemporary writers on Colonial Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas considered it a basic theme . . . .”  But then during the period of Civil War and Reconstruction, plantation life “. . .was in large degree lost to sight as a historical phenomenon.”  The rediscovery of primary records, such as those published in this volume, early in the 20th century helped bring about renewed interest in the period.

Spec Coll Florida F 315 .J77
Richter Stacks copy F 315 .J77


Deagan, Kathleen A. and Darcie MacMahon.  Fort Mose:  colonial America’s Black fortress of freedom.  Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 1995.

“In 1718, when more than 100 African fugitives had arrived in St. Augustine, the Spanish established the fort and town of Gracia Real de San Teresa de Mose, the first legally-sanctioned free black town in what is now the United States.  The site of Fort Mose has been the focus of a multidisciplinary historical archaeological research program since 1986.”

Spec Coll Florida F 319 .F734 1995


Cottman, Michael H.  The wreck of the Henrietta Marie:  an African-American’s spiritual journey to uncover a sunken slave ship’s past.  New York:  Harmony Books, 1999.

Cottman is an award-winning journalist who currently works for the Washington Post.  While diving in the Florida Keys to survey a sunken slave ship, he decides to reconstruct the journey of the British ship and slave passengers.  The memoir tells of his travel to England, then Africa, and then the Gulf of Mexico – a quest to “make sense of the history of his ancestors” as well as confront his “country’s future.”

Spec Coll Florida F 319 .K4 C68


The American slave:  a composite autobiography.  Volume 17.  Florida Narratives.  George P. Rawick, general editor.  Westport CT:  Greenwood Publishing, 1972.

The Federal Writer’s Project recorded interviews with ex-slaves residing in Southern states between 1936-1938 after which they were deposited in the Library of Congress.  In 1941 they were initially published under the auspices of the Work Projects Administration.  The narratives contain a great deal of information about the social structure of slave communities as well as black folklore.  There is much information about Reconstruction as well.  The collection of interview transcriptions offers ample evidence of regional differences.  The Florida volume is number 17 in the 19 volume set.

Spec Coll Florida E 441 .A58 volume 17
Richter Stacks copy E 441 .A58 volume 17


Richardson, Joe M.  The Negro in the Reconstruction of Florida, 1865-1872.  Tallahassee:  The Florida State University, 1965.

While not a comprehensive history of Reconstruction in Florida, this study attempts to “picture the role played by the freedmen” during the period.  Several Negro politicians, according to Richardson, were quite able although ill-prepared for their new leadership positions.  Until Richardson produced this influential study, the Florida Negro during Reconstruction had largely been ignored by scholars or portrayed as “shiftless, incompetent, and if a politician, corrupt.”  The study includes reference to many important primary resources.  Originally published in 1913, William Watson Davis’s The civil war and reconstruction in Florida (Spec Coll Florida and Richter Stacks F 316 .D28) remains useful as does Jerrell H. Shofner’s revisionist history published in 1974, Nor is it over yet; Florida in the era of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (Spec Coll Florida and Richter Stacks F 316 .S56.)  Shofner challenges Davis on a number of points in his important study.

Spec Coll Florida AS 36 .F56 no. 46
Richter Stacks copy AS 36 .F56 no. 46


Brown, Canter, Jr.  Florida’s Black Public Officials, 1867-1924.  Tuscaloosa:  The University of Alabama Press, 1998.

From the Introduction:  “Beginning in 1867 and continuing into the twentieth century, African American men contributed to the South, the state of Florida, and their local communities through service in public office.  Their total numbers in Florida may have reached close to 1,000, yet the state’s black political leadership has received relatively little attention from historians.”  Joe Richardson’s study is one of the few exceptions.  Brown’s remarkable reference book is in the format of a biographical dictionary.  Each entry is supported with footnotes to sources used to produce the brief biography.  Portrait illustrations are included as is a useful appendix that lists the officials by Florida county.

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 B76 1998
Richter Reference copy E 185.93 .F5 B76 1998


Wallace, John.  Carpet bag rule in Florida.  The inside workings of the reconstruction of civil government in Florida after the close of the Civil war.  Jacksonville FL:  Da Costa printing and publishing house, 1888.

From the Floridiana Facsimile and Reprint Series Editorial Preface published in 1964:  “A former slave from North Carolina, John Wallace was mustered out of the United States Army at Key West after a service of two and a half years.  The self-educated veteran distinguished himself as a member of the Florida legislature and was employed by William D. Bloxham, later to be twice governor of the state, as a teacher for the Negro children on his plantation.  Wallace had a flair for writing.  In 1888 his Carpetbag Rule in Florida was published by a Jacksonville printer.”  This same edition has a stimulating introductory essay by noted Civil War historian Allan Nevins that places Wallace’s book in the chaotic context of Reconstruction in the South.

Spec Coll Florida F 316 .W19.  Additional copies available in the Special Collections Department.
Richter Stacks copy F 316 .W19 1988a


Jones, Maxine Deloris and Kevin M. McCarthy.  African Americans in Florida.  Sarasota FL:  Pineapple Press, 1993.

While directed primarily to the juvenile reader, this book serves adults as well with its solid, brief surveys of events and biographies of prominent African American Floridians.  The illustrations are superb, and the authors provide references and questions for further reading and discussion.  The book is opened to the profile on Josiah Wells, one of Florida’s most distinguished African American citizens.  He was a newspaper publisher who served in the House of Representatives as well as the state House and Senate during the Reconstruction era.

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 J66
Richter Stacks copy E 185.93 .F5 J66


The Florida Negro:  a Federal Writer’s Project legacy, edited with an introduction, by Gary W. McDonogh.  Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1993.

The Florida Negro was a product of the Works Progress Administration.  This volume is an annotated edition of the complete manuscript held by the Florida Historical Society.  In his introduction to the book, the editor takes pains to note that the book challenges the reader with the complexities of the Federal Writers’ Project itself as well as the presentation of the situation of African Americans in Florida.  The book has a fascinating textual history.   Zora Neale Hurston was one of the many people involved in the project.  Much of the information provided in the book is relevant to the study of African Americans during Reconstruction.

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 F57 1993
Richter Stacks copy E 185.93 .F5 F7 1993


Klingman, Peter D.  Josiah Walls:  Florida’s Black Congressman of Reconstruction.  Gainesville:  University Presses of Florida, 1976.

From the publisher of this important biography:  “Josiah Walls was one of Reconstruction’s leading black politicians and Florida’s most important black politician of the nineteenth century.”  Walls was active politically at the local, state, and national levels.  He was a leading figure in the National Negro Convention Movement during Reconstruction.  This was one of the first organizations after the Civil War to advocate equal rights for African Americans.

Spec Coll Florida E 664 .W19 K54
Richter Stacks copy E 664 .W19 K54


Warner, Lee H.  Free men in an age of servitude:  three generations of a Black family.  Lexington:  University Press of Kentucky, 1992.

The author calls this unusual study of three men representing three generations of the Proctor family an essay, rather than a biography, because of the lack of traditional primary resources.  No personal papers on the Proctors remain.  Historians will find Warner’s introductory essay on his methodology both interesting and useful.  The setting is primarily Tallahassee. The eldest Proctor studied, Antonio, was born a Spanish slave and served as a soldier for three nations.  His son, George, was a successful builder who endured terrible difficulties throughout his life as a free Black.  John, George’s son, spent ten years in the Florida legislature during Reconstruction, eventually returning to his tradesman occupation.

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 W37 1992


Colburn, David R. and Jane L. Landers, editors.  The African American Heritage of Florida.  Gainesville:  University Press of Florida, 1995.

From Mr. Colburn’s Introduction:  “Few readers are likely to realize that Africans were among the first nonnative peoples to set foot in Florida.  The free black conquistador Juan Garrido arrived with Juan Ponce de Leon’s expedition in 1513, after having served with other Africans in the earlier explorations and the conquest of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.  Africans were, in fact, part of all the Spanish expeditions in Florida, and they helped assure the success of the Spanish settlement established at St. Augustine in 1565.”

Colburn goes on to note that until Charlton Tebeau’s revised 1980 edition of History of Florida(Spec Coll Florida and Richter Stacks F 311 .T42 1980) only a few historians had substantially addressed any aspects of African American history in the state.  Historians had, however, long recognized that in many ways the African American heritage of Florida differed dramatically from that of other Southern states.  Florida’s multiethnic heritage is unique.  African Americans were linked to both the Spanish Caribbean and the colonial South.  In addition, Florida had a number of free black communities including the Mose site near St. Augustine and “villages in and around present-day Gainesville, Tallahassee, Apalachicola, and Sarasota.”

Essays in the volume are devoted to traditions of African freedom and community in Spanish Florida (Jane Landers), African religious retentions (Robert L. Hall), African Americans in British East Florida (Daniel L. Schafer), master-slave relations (Larry E. Rivers), Blacks and the Seminole removal (George Klos), African American involvement in the Civil War (Daniel L. Schafer), and aspects of Reconstruction in LaVilla, Florida (Patricia L. Kenney.)

Spec Coll Florida E 185.93 .F5 A33 1995