The Seminole Wars by Henrietta Buckmaster. The story of the conquest of Florida is full of valiance and betrayal, colorful chiefs with curious names such as Wild Cat, Osceola, The Prophet, and Tiger Tail, and American military men who treated their adversaries with the gamut of postures – from admiration and respect to contempt and cruel treachery. At the heart of this story is American slavery. As many slaves escaped north via the underground railroad, others from the deep south fled to Florida, where they were befriended by the Seminoles, intermarried with them, and often served as translators in talks between the chiefs and Americans. The goal of the Americans was to relocate the Seminoles to the west much as they had done with the Cherokees. It looks as though this goal might have been accomplished more readily except for the second goal, that of returning the Blacks to slavery. This was something the Seminoles could not abide as many had been living with them as family for generations.
Toward the end of the book Buckmaster says, “After all the battles and suffering were over, who had won this long war?
“Without a shadow of a doubt – the Seminoles.”
If she’s right, it was a pyrrhic victory. Those that went west did not find a hospitable welcome.
My first job was at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. A young Seminole graduated having participated in the ROTC program. He had to have a special dispensation from the Secretary of State to do this as no final treaty had been signed between the Seminoles and the Americans. His mother came to graduation. She did not speak English! I have had more contact with Seminoles since I retired to Florida. Maybe they do have the last laugh as they have made a killing in their casinos.