Ah-Tah-Thi-ki Seminole Museum


The Seminoles would not be unconquered without these, and other leaders who resisted efforts to remove the tribe from its vast Florida homeland. 



SEMINOLE WAR LEADERS & WARRIORS

After the American Revolution (1776-1783), Spain regained control of Florida from Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris. When the British evacuated Florida, Spanish colonists as well as settlers from the newly formed United States came pouring in. Many of these new residents were lured by favorable Spanish terms for acquiring property, called land grants. Even Seminoles were encouraged to set up farms, because they provided a buffer between Spanish Florida and the United States. Escaped slaves also entered Florida, trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters had no authority over them.

Back when Britain controlled Florida, the British often incited Seminoles against American settlers who were migrating south into Seminole territory. These old conflicts, combined with the safe-haven Seminoles provided black slaves, caused the U.S. army to attack the tribe in the First Seminole War (1817-1818), which took place in Florida and southern Georgia. Forces under Gen. Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida, attacked several key locations, and pushed the Seminoles farther south into Florida. Finally, after several official and unofficial U.S. military expeditions into the territory, Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, according to terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty.

As soon as the United States acquired Florida, it began urging the Indians there to leave their lands and relocate along with other southeastern tribes to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Some Seminole leaders signed a treaty in 1832, and part of the tribe moved. But other Seminoles refused to recognize the treaty and fled into the Florida Everglades.

The Treaty of Payne's Landing, signed by a small number of Seminoles in May 1832, required Indians to give up their Florida lands within three years and move west. When the U.S. Army arrived in 1835 to enforce the treaty, the Indians were once again ready for war. The campaigns of the Second Seminole War were an outstanding demonstration of guerrilla warfare by the Seminole. With the chiefs leading less than 3,000 warriors, against four U.S. generals and more than 30,000 troops. The Second Seminole War (1835-1842), usually referred to as the Seminole War proper, was the fiercest war waged by the U.S. government against American Indians. The United States spent more than $20 million fighting the Seminoles. The war left more than 1,500 soldiers and uncounted American civilians dead. And the obvious duplicity of the U.S. government's tactics marred Indian-white relations throughout the country for future generations. In 1842, a nominal end to the hostilities arrived, though no peace treaty was ever signed. By this time most Seminoles had been moved from Florida, relocated to Indian Territory today's Oklahoma.

A Third Seminole War broke out in 1855, when conflicts -- largely over land -- arose between whites and some Seminoles who remained in Florida. Constant military patrols and rewards for the capture of Indians reduced the Seminole population to about 200 when the Third Seminole War ended in 1858.

[from the Department of State of Florida, Division of Historical Resources]