“With both of us hailing from relatively Northern states, we’ve been getting a steady education on the history of the American South as we travel there.” – Tom and Patti Burkett
In New England and the midwest, the settlement and war history involves mostly England, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe.
In the South, the history is much more tied up with Spain and France. Florida, for example, has seen sixteen flags flying over all or part of it during its post-colonial history. And that’s after its history of settlement by indigenous people before the fifteenth century.
The last time we visited our park ranger daughter, she took us to see Fort Mosé, a small Florida fort on the coast a couple of north of the Castillo de San Marcos. At the time it was established, Spain was ruling here. Slavery was flourishing in the US colonies farther north, and because slaves were much less harshly treated by the Spaniards, there was a constant flow of escapees coming into Florida.
Indeed, Spanish governors and officials encouraged it. Slave owners in the Southern states insisted the government do something, but this part of Florida didn’t become US territory until the ratification of the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1821.
Enslaved people who made it across the border had the option of securing their freedom by converting to Catholicism and agreeing to a term of military service.
The fort became home to a growing population of African soldiers and their families. Fields were established, and the soldiers’ wives and children worked to grow the crops that fed the inhabitants of the fort and also the residents of St. Augustine.
Some of the escapees earned fairly high military rank and became officers in the Spanish military, as well as respected members of the city social scene.
When you go to visit the fort, you’ll find a visitor center with models and displays, a film about the history of the fort, and a knowledgeable ranger to answer your questions.
The actual site of the fort is some distance away, on a rise of land across the tidal marsh. You can see it from a viewing platform near the visitor center. The current plan is to reconstruct the fort when resources are in place, and progress is being made.
Saint Augustine is all about the Spanish history of North Florida, but it also has an important story to tell about slavery in the US. It’s not often told, and not well marked, but you can find it, if you look off the beaten path.
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.