Published on February 1, 2013 by Carol
Andrew Jackson’s campaign in the First Seminole War (1817-1818) did not succeed in subduing the Floridian natives. The United States government would decide later that removal of all Indians in Florida to the Indian Territory in the West (present-day Oklahoma) was the best solution for persistent conflict between the Seminole and encroaching white settlers.
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By the terms of the Treaty of Paynes Landing (1832), the Seminole were supposed to migrate west of the Mississippi River within 36 months. By 1834, 3,824 Indians had made the move. The largest faction of Seminole, led by their chief Osceola (1804?–1838), refused to go. Osceola vowed to fight “till the last drop of Seminole blood has moistened the dust of his hunting ground.” In response to his resistance, Osceola was briefly imprisoned. A few months following his release, he commenced attacks on the Americans.
On December 28, 1835 Osceola murdered Indian agent Wiley Thompson. The same day, Major Francis Dade and his U.S. soldiers were ambushed by 300 Seminole warriors near Fort King (Ocala). These incidents began the Second Seminole War. The natives retreated into the Everglades, began guerilla tactics against U.S. forces and fought desperately for more than seven years.
By 1837, the Seminole apparently had managed to force a truce. During negotiations, however, Oceola was arrested and confined first at Saint Augustine, then Fort Moultrie at Charleston, South Carolina where he died on January 30, 1838. His followers fought on. By 1842, they were nearly exterminated. Some 4,420 Seminoles surrendered and were deported to Oklahoma. A few hundred managed to remain in the Everglades under the leadership of Billy Bowlegs, their principal chief. The Third Seminole War would ensue.
The Second Seminole War proved to be the most expensive of the Indian Wars in which the United States was involved. It cost the lives of thousands of Seminole and 1,500 U.S. soldiers, as well as more than $30 million.