This lecture will reveal and analyse the history of the so-called "Negro Fort;" North America's largest ever maroon community (a settlement of fugitive slaves and their descendants). The Negro Fort emerged at Prospect Bluff, Spanish Florida during the War of 1812 when a British Royal Marine named Edward Nicolls recruited hundreds of slaves from across the Southeast to join the British war effort. Nicolls was a radical anti-slavery advocate who carefully instilled his ideology in the minds of the former slaves before granting them the status of British subjects with full and equal rights to any white British man. At the end of the war, the British left the radicalized former slaves heavily armed and in charge of the fort at Prospect Bluff. During the next 18 months, the former slaves created a flourishing community that was driven by a strong sense of British identity. White Americans, the Spanish, and many Native Americans were deeply concerned by the existence of the maroon community and felt that it might act as a spur to slave resistance across the South. Accordingly, a large detachment of American soldiers and Indian warriors destroyed the fort in July 1816. However, the vast majority of the maroons were able to flee Prospect Bluff before the American assault and would become the key anti-American combatants in the First Seminole War. The lecture will suggest that the actions of the maroons both deserve to be understood as central to the history of North America and provide an invaluable opportunity to understand the lives of slaves during the Age of Revolution.
Part of the 'American Perspectives' Fulbright Series.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/north-americas-largest-act-of-slave-resistance
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