SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Battle of the Negro Fort: The Rise and Fall of a Fugitive Slave Community

New York Univ. Sept. 2019. 272p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781479837335. $24.95. HIST
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During the War of 1812, the British offered American slaves the opportunity to serve in the British Colonial Marines in exchange for their freedom. Many slaves flocked to the British military. At the end of hostilities, many runaways sailed with the British, while others chose to occupy a well-supplied fort in Spanish Florida near the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Negro Fort, home to several hundred former slaves, Native Americans, and their families, was a constant irritation to slaveholders. Although just one of many maroon communities in Florida, Negro Fort was the largest and served as a source of hope and inspiration to runaways and enslaved people in the states bordering Florida. Clavin (history, Univ. of Houston; Aiming for Pensacola) tells the story of this fugitive slave outpost and its destruction at the hands of a combined U.S. Army and Navy force led by Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson. Clavin describes how this action closed off an escape route, increased oppression of Southern Native peoples, and led to the rise of the Southern slave power and a federal government willing to use its influence to support slaveholders.
VERDICT A must-read for those interested in early American republic history.

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