This week, on part III of our Florida History Podcast series on the nation’s First Underground Railroad, we move from Spanish rule of Florida, to British East Florida. Once the British assumed control of Florida via the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they brought a Plantation economy to the area, and slavery was re-instituted. Slaves no longer had Florida to runaway to from the colonies north and those African-Americans who had escaped to freedom under Spanish rule left the colony in mass before the British formally assumed control.
But as it turns out, Florida’s history as a haven for runaway slaves and a locale on the North American continent where African-Americans would be armed did not end in 1763. The acquisition of Florida by the British Crown temporarily relieved the pressure on the Carolina’s and Georgia in terms of runaway slaves, but the American Revolution meant all bets were off.
British authorities much like their Spanish predecessors a hundred years earlier now were actively encouraging runaway slaves to seek refuge. The option for runaways was to defect behind British lines or to head south to East Florida.
We discuss that in Part III of the series.