Fort Mose: The Nation’s First Community of Freed Slaves
Early Slaves’ Flight to Freedom Ended Near St. Augustine
Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose, is the site of the first legally sanctioned community of freed slaves in what is now the United States. Located on the eastern edge of the marsh, just two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose was a perfect line of defense for the Spaniards. Most of Fort Mose’s community consisted of escaped, captured, or runaway slaves from the British colonies of South Carolina and Georgia. They ran from captivity in hope of a better life in St. Augustine.
The taste of freedom quenched the desire of many men and women. Their bravery was evident, their pursuit was endless. Their uneasy journey through thick woods, wetlands, and the fear of being captured kept them going. Many perished, yet those who made it were free. In 1738 more than 100 men, women, and children reached Fort Mose, allowing the Spanish government to establish "Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose."
The Florida Park Service and the Fort Mose Historical Society, a citizen-supported organization, are working to spread the story of Fort Mose and its free residents. The land was acquired and improved access and expanded facilities for the public to experience the fort site while protecting the archeological remains and the environment. To learn more about Fort Mose and St. Augustine's historical past, click here.
Photos courtesy of the Florida Museum of Natural History