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The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking Peopleby Kenneth W. Porter
Synopses & Reviews
“A powerful and stirring story.”—San Antonio Express-News
“An epic tale of desperate, unwitting fugitives who would—without exaggeration—defeat armed forces both white and Indian, make possible settlement of the West, earn the country’s highest military honors, and have nothing to show for it.”—Miami Herald
“This fascinating story chronicles the lives of fugitive slaves who aligned themselves with Seminole Indians in Florida beginning in the early 1800s, fought with them in the Second Seminole War, and were removed, along with them to Indian Territory, where they struggled to remain free. To prevent reenslavement, their remarkable leader, John Horse, led much of the group to Mexico. . . . Recommended.”—Library Journal
“Porter spoke directly with Chief Horse’s descendants and with older black Seminoles who either knew him or had heard first-hand stories about him. . . . A gripping account of a people’s struggle both for identity and freedom.”—Naples Daily News
“This book’s sweep is broad, its story is provocative, and the human saga it evokes is compelling. No exercise in political correctness, this is a detailed, factual account of a remarkable people’s struggle for survival over multiple generations and in the face of calamitous challenges. This history will surprise, while it intrigues. Kenneth Porter has made an enduring contribution, for which we are indebted to him.”—Tampa Tribune
"A blockbuster . . . [and] a 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. This is a story that has long needed to be told, written in a thought-provoking and sympathetic manner."--Edwin C. Bearss, Historian Emeritus, National Park Service
"Reveals, as fully as is likely possible, the meaningful history of the Black Seminole people. . . . A simple narrative, buttressed by solid analysis and innovative research. . . . Will appeal to buff and professional historians alike. . . . African Americans, in particular, will draw inspiration and use from it."--James Irving Fenton, historian, Lubbock, Texas
This story of a remarkable people, the Black Seminoles, and their charismatic leader, Chief John Horse, chronicles their heroic struggle for freedom.
Beginning with the early 1800s, small groups of fugitive slaves living in Florida joined the Seminole Indians (an association that thrived for decades on reciprocal respect and affection). Kenneth Porter traces their fortunes and exploits as they moved across the country and attempted to live first beyond the law, then as loyal servants of it.
He examines the Black Seminole role in the bloody Second Seminole War, when John Horse and his men distinguished themselves as fierce warriors, and their forced removal to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the 1840s, where John's leadership ability emerged.
The account includes the Black Seminole exodus in the 1850s to Mexico, their service as border troops for the Mexican government, and their return to Texas in the 1870s, where many of the men scouted for the U.S. Army. Members of their combat-tested unit, never numbering more than 50 men at a time, were awarded four of the sixteen Medals of Honor received by the several thousand Indian scouts in the West.
Porter's interviews with John Horse's descendants and acquaintances in the 1940s and 1950s provide eyewitness accounts. When Alcione Amos and Thomas Senter took up the project in the 1980s, they incorporated new information that had since come to light about John Horse and his people.
A powerful and stirring story, The Black Seminoles will appeal especially to readers interested in black history, Indian history, Florida history, and U.S. military history.
Kenneth W. Porter was professor of history at the University of Oregon. Alcione M. Amos is librarian at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She has done extensive work on African-American military history and has published on the subject of the Black Seminoles in the Florida Historical Quarterly. Thomas P. Senter is a practicing physician in Anchorage, Alaska, who considers Brackettville, Texas, his second home.
About the Author
Kenneth W. Porter, former professor of history at the University of Oregon, began researching Black Seminole history in the 1930s. When he died in 1981, he was still editing the 700 pages of his life’s work. Originally published in 1996, his book remains the definitive work on the subject.
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