Florida: Fort Mose (Hispano-African)













Source: P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida.
Comments: This series of images focuses on a unique Spanish colonial fort and village two miles north of the Castillo de San Marcos outide San Agustín / Saint Augustine. The village was called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Royal Favor of Saint Teresa at Mose; Mose is the Timucuan name of a former Indian village; Mose. This village and fort was created for and settled by free blacks from Spanish Florida. It had a fort staffed by black militia soldiers, and a couple hundred blacks—free and slaves, including people of varying ethnic heritage—lived here. The site and fort were created sometime in 1738 in order to offer a refuge to slaves escaping from Georgia and South Carolina and to act as the first line of defense for Spanish Florida against incursion by English white slave owners and their Indian allies across the international border in the region of the St. John's River. The first leader of the town was Captain, Francisco Menéndez, a former slave from the Mandinga nation of Africa, who was freed and renamed upon his conversion to Catholicism. The short name for this important site is Fort Mose (in English as in Spanish, pronounce both syllables). The fort existed in three phases: 1738-1740; 1752-1763; and 1783-1790s, but we refer to Fort Mose I and Fort Mose II because, after the first location was destroyed in 1740, it was moved to a new location, where it was destroyed by the British and rebuilt by the Spanish in the Second Spanish Period. After it's first destruction by the Georgian leader, Oglethorp, in 1740, Mose's inhabitants fled to the safety of St. Augustine. When Florida became British in 1763, all of the Spanish and Afro-Floridian residents of Florida fled to freedom in Cuba. In 1783, many of these same people returned to St. Augustine/Florida, but, once again, most of them returned to Cuba in 1821, when the United States bought all of Florida from Spain.