American Indian Wars: Second Seminole War ends, with the Seminoles forced from Florida to Oklahoma
The Seminole Wars, also known as the Florida Wars, were three conflicts in Florida between the Seminole—the collective name given to the amalgamation of various groups of native Americans and African Americans who settled in Florida in the early 18th century—and the United States Army. The First Seminole War was from 1816 to 1819 (although sources differ), the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842 and the Third Seminole War from 1855 to 1858. 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.
- The First Seminole War 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. According to the Treaty of Moultrie Creek of 1823, the Seminoles were required to leave northern Florida and were confined to a large reservation in the center of the Florida peninsula.
- The Second Seminole War (1835-1842) was the result of the United States government attempting to force the Seminoles to leave Florida altogether as described in the Treaty of Payne's Landing of 1832, which Seminole leaders claimed that they signed under duress. Battles and skirmishes raged throughout the Florida peninsula, with the outgunned and outnumbered Seminoles often using guerrilla warfare tactics and both sides massacring civilians during the conflict. The war eventually resulted in most of the Seminole population in Florida being killed in battle, ravaged by starvation and disease or relocated to Indian Territory in modern Oklahoma. A few hundred Seminoles were allowed to remain in an unofficial reservation in southwest Florida.
- The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was again the result of Seminoles responding to settlers encroaching on their lands, perhaps deliberately to provoke a violent response. Chief Billy Bowlegs led a raid near Fort Myers in December 1855, beginning a conflict which consisted mainly of Seminole raids and American reprisals, with no large battles fought. In 1858, most of the remaining Seminoles, 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.
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