By 1738, Spanish St. Augustine had been an established garrison town for nearly 175 years  and had become a player in the skirmishing between the Spanish and the English in the Americas. In that year, Florida's Spanish governor chartered a new settlement a bit of a ways inland from town. The wooden garrison of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosé was set up as the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in North America, and became a refuge for escaped slaves from the English colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia - kind of like the original Underground Railroad, but southward instead of northward. Pretty much all the refugees had to do upon reaching Fort Mose (as it's since become known, pronounced "mo-zay") was agree to convert to Catholicism, and many unsurprisingly fought for the Spanish against the English on various occasions. Today the original fort is gone, but at the site (declared a National Historic Landmark) there's a very well-designed, multimedia visitor's center (above) that lays out the history, along with some beautiful grounds, including a walkway over a marshland that nature lovers will enjoy.

Read more in my post St. Augustine, Florida - Critical in the USA´s Black History, Too.

David Paul Appell

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