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What was the impetus for the Seminole Wars?

November 27th

600px-Seminole_War_in_EvergladesNovember 27, 1817 — US soldiers attack the Florida Indian village, beginning the Seminole Wars.

Also known as the Florida Wars, there were three conflicts in Florida between the US Army and the Seminoles — which was the collective name given to the amalgamation of various groups of native Americans and a smattering of others primarily African Americans who settled in Florida in the early 18th century.

Historians explain that the first of three Seminole Wars arose out of tensions relating to General Andrew Jackson’s excursions into northern Spanish Florida against the Seminoles beginning in 1816. The governments of Britain and Spain both expressed outrage over the “invasion” but ultimately, the Spanish Crown agreed to cede Florida to the United States in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819.

They were the largest conflicts in the United States between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Taken together, the Seminole Wars were the longest and most expensive (both in human and monetary terms) Indian Wars in United States history and one of the most expensive of all wars ever fought by the U.S. as a percentage of gross national product.

By 1858, most of the remaining Seminoles were weary of war and with their villages and farms mostly destroyed, agreed to be shipped to Oklahoma in exchange for promises of safe passage and cash payments to their chiefs. An estimated 100 Seminoles still refused to leave and moved deep into the Florida Everglades to live on land that was unwanted by white settlers.

Words of Wisdom

The government is in the wrong, and this is the chief cause of the persevering opposition of the Indians, who have nobly defended their country against our attempt to enforce a fraudulent treaty. The natives used every means to avoid a war, but were forced into it by the tyranny of our government.

— Journal entry by Major Ethan Allen Hitchcock on the Dade Massacre, 1835

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