Fort Mose Historical Overview
Established in 1738 by Colonial Spanish Florida's Governor
Manuel Montiano, Fort Mose gave sanctuary to Africans
challenging enslavement in the English Colony of Carolina.
Approximately 100 Africans lived at Fort Mose, forming
more than 20 households. Together they created a frontier
community which drew on a range of African backgrounds
blended with Spanish, Native American and English cultural
A Maroon Fort Mose, a maroon community, was legally
sanctioned by the Spanish Government making it the first
free African settlement to legally exist in the United
and Historical Origins of Fort Mose
Usually when we consider post contact discovery and
development of North America we think about the English
settling at Jamestown in 1607 or perhaps Plymouth in
1620; but it was the Spaniards who established the Oldest
European City of the United States, St. Augustine in
1565. In contemplating experience of Africans within
the post Columbian context we again think about Jamestown,
Virginia and Charles Town, Carolina. However, the first
Africans to accompany Europeans in coming to the New
World arrived not as slaves in Jamestown in 1619. Aboard
ships with Spanish Conquistadors and Adelantados, Africans
arrived as artisans, seamen, navigators and adventurers,
forever establishing their presence in North America.
In early 1500's Juan Garrido took part in the expeditions
of Ponce de Leon in Puerto Rico and Florida as well
as with Hernando Cortez in Mexico. Esteban joined Panfilo
de Narvaez traveling through the Gulf Coast and the
Augustine, Florida founded in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez
de Aviles, is the Oldest European City in what became
the United States. Africans helped in forming and maintaining
the settlement as both slaves and free people. Skills
and knowledge gained from Africa including blacksmithing,
carpentry, cattleranching, and military techniques enabled
African people to make important contributions to the
St Augustine community. They formed 12% of the population,
1 of every 5 was a free person.
English Planters established Charles Town in 1670 along
the southeastern coast of the North American Continent.
This intensified regional intercolonial rivalry involving
Spaniards, Native Americans, French Huguenots, and Africans.
In Charles Town enslaved Africans soon outnumbered whites
and many resisted bondage by running away. 1672 brought
a Spanish response to the increasing regional tensions.
Queen Regent Mariana of Spain and the Florida's Governor
Cendoya commissioned the construction of a coquina fortress,
the Castillo de San Marcos, a defensive move to fortify
the settlement of St. Augustine. Spaniards worked with
Native Americans and Africans building the structure.