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Osceola's Betrayal

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The capture of Osceola 170 years ago on October 21st, 1837, is the most infamous episodes in the whole 2nd Seminole War. There were plenty of other dark deeds carried out on both sides, but if anyone wants to talk about the injustice of the war, this event is usually given as the most familiar example. Osceola, who walks in with a white flag to talk about peace, is captured and subsequently dies in prison.

Reading the different accounts of the officers present, and between General Jesup who gave the order, and General Joseph Hernandez who was there to carry it out, there was no intention whatsoever to negotiate with Osceola and the Seminoles / Miccosukees. Everything was planned at least a couple days before, that when a prearranged signal was given, the entire group of Seminoles were to be surrounded and captured, and escorted to prison in St. Augustine.

When Osceola arrived with Coa Hadjo and about seventy warriors, and a small number of women and children, General Hernandez asked if Osceola was ready to turn over those slaves that had been taken from their plantations along the St. Johns River. Followed by several questions by Hernandez that basically asked why the Seminoles had not surrendered?

Osceola, choked and unable to talk by what he perceived was a betrayal of trust and the white flag, asked Coa Hadjo to speak. Hernandez said the answers were evasive and unsatisfactory. It is unclear what exactly the Indians responded back with, but we know they were immediately surrounded and disarmed, and then taken prisoner.

Once in prison, John Sprague writes, "His spirit was broken by defeat and imprisonment."

From St. Augustine Osceola the Seminoles were sent to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, after the escape of 20 Seminoles from the Fort Marion in November. From there, Osceola further became ill and melancholy. "All hope was gone, and the conviction that he was forever banished form his land, weighed and wore upon his spirits, until nature became exhausted."

Osceola's death, Dr. Weedon collecting his head as a medical specimen, and the outrage in the northern press over Osceola's death is well known. The last three and one half months of Osceola's life are what he is most well known for, from his capture under a flag of truce, to his tragic death away from his home.

Below is an image that I found in a 4th grade school textbook on Florida history that I have, that was printed 100 years ago. It is of Osceola's arrest by Indian Agent Wiley Thompson in 1835. The image is not very accurate, since the arrest did not involve a black wife of Osceola. But I do like the image. Interesting is that once I put this image up on the web, it started showing up elsewhere. Everyone likes to copy my research and images that I put up, but I bet that nobody else knows where it was originally published.

Current Location:
the hammock
Current Mood:
melancholy melancholy
Current Music:
Celtic Woman
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On October 18th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC), connor_campbell commented:
so here is my topic from my 19th century US history class:
"How and why did the debate over slavery between the 1830s and 1861 lead to the dissolution of the Union?"

got any good sources that specifically mention something tied to this? i can't think of anyway to include the Florida Wars except as another log on the fire - something used by both sides to support their positions.

i know the abolitionists used the stories of Osceola in suport of their arguments against slavery, while the slaveholders claimed they held up or stopped altogether attempts at recapturing "escaped" slaves, but that doesn't fill too much room, and it would be nice to have a specific reference. i am currently reading Joe Knetsch's book "Florida's Seminole Wars 1817-1858", but it goes so in depth into the wars themselves that it doesn't really tie them to the Civil War, other than off hand mentions that they did have some effect.

i don't have much with me, but i might be able to get the library to get a hold of it if there is enough time. thanx Chris!
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On October 18th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC), seminolewar replied:
Sources for Black Seminoles
Excellent one is JohnHorse.com website -- I think you should get a lot of good material from here.
"The Seminole Wars, America's Longest Indian Conflict" by John & Mary Lou Missal
"The Black Seminoles" by Porter
"the Exiles" by Joshua Giddings that has been reprinted under the facsimile series.
Email me your phone number and I will try to call you tonight and talk over a few things.
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On October 18th, 2007 10:07 am (UTC), seminolewar commented:
Black Semnoles
A quick reference on the web would be JohnHorse.com .
General Thomas S. Jesup said that this was a war not against Indians, but Negroes. I have seen that in the state papers, military affairs. John and Mary Lou Missall's book covers it too.
I am not sure what the library has in TN, but your best bet would be the John Horse website.
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