What Was America's 1st Black Town?

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: It was formed long before the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Outraged by actions of the slaves at Stono, and fearful of more rebellions from slaves seeking to escape to Florida, the English countered with a siege of Florida between 1739 and 1740. They captured Fort Mose in 1740. As Landers reports, Captain Menendez and the Fort Mose militia allied with Native Americans to fight the invaders, culminating in a bloody battle in June 1740, in which Menendez and his forces attacked the British and killed 75 of their men. In the process, Fort Mose was destroyed. 

Menendez would be captured and sold as a slave, but by 1759, he was free and once again in command at Mose, which had been reconstructed by the Spanish in 1752. By 1759, Mose consisted of 37 men, 15 women, seven boys and eight girls. In 1763, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the Spanish were forced to abandon Florida but gained Cuba in return. In August, Menendez led 48 men, women and children on the schooner Nuestra Senora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) and sailed to Cuba, where they settled in Regla, a town near the city of Havana. Fort Mose is now memorialized as a national historic landmark.

As always, you can find more "Amazing Facts About the Negro" on The Root, and check back each week as we count to 100.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root.

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