Good Morning Kossacks and Welcome to Morning Open Thread (MOT)We're known as the MOTley Crew and you can find us here every morning at 6:30 Eastern. Feel free to volunteer to take a day - permanently or just once in awhile. With the auto-publish feature you can set it and forget it. Sometimes the diarist du jour shows up much later, that's the beauty of Open Thread...it carries on without you! Just let us know in the comments. You can click on the MOT - Morning Open Thread "heart" if you'd like us to show up in your stream every day.
For more than a century before the better known "underground railroad" that ran to the north, there was a lesser known one that ran in the opposite direction, south to Spanish held Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean as well as into parts of the American West.
Stories about this little known railroad will be shared on June 20 - 24 in St. Augustine at the 2012 National Underground Railroad Conference.
It is widely believed that once South Carolina was established in 1670, that slaves began fleeing into Florida. The first mention of escaped slaves appeared in Spanish records in 1687 with a mention of eight slaves, including a nursing baby, that showed up in St. Augustine.
Spain's policy, a policy that was formalized in 1693, was to refuse the return of the slaves and instead grant them religious sanctuary with the condition that those seeking sanctuary convert to Catholicism. The policy stayed in effect until 1790 when then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson convinced the Spanish crown to end it.
It was likely that the promise of freedom in Florida is what led to The Stono Rebellion which occurred just outside Charleston, SC on September 9, 1739 was the largest slave revolt in British North America. Some twenty slaves raided a store and gathered guns and other weapons. These slaves were believed to have come from what is now Angola and that they had once been soldiers in their native land. At the time, Angola was a Portuguese outpost and the slaves would have been Catholic. Mark Smith, a historian at the University of South Carolina said:
They would have known about the rumor of freedom in Spanish Florida and decided to start the revolt on Sept. 9, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.Twenty whites and 34 slaves died in the rebellion. Some unknown number made good their escape into Spanish Florida.
They have a white flag, which is not a flag of surrender. It’s a flag of celebrating Mary, and they shout "Liberty." They are not revolting just as slaves, but as Catholic slaves.
American Indian tribes, including the Creeks, Cherokees , Yemassee and Seminoles assisted these escaped slaves.
Gullah, sometimes called Geechee, is what linguists call an English-based creole language that was prevalent among the South Carolina slaves and explains why the culture, language and food exists along the Northeast Florida coast to this day.