Fort Jefferson, the central cultural feature of Dry Tortugas National Park, lies 68 nautical miles west of Key West, Florida. Thirty years in the making (1846-1875), Fort Jefferson ranks as one of the largest coastal forts ever built, covering an area of nearly 17 acres. Enslaved Africans were instrumental in the construction of Fort Jefferson. Despite its remote location, seven enslaved Africans attempted to escape from the fort in 1847. In 1862, Fort Jefferson, now occupied by Union Forces, discontinued the use of slave labor when the commanding officer Colonel Joseph S. Morgan of the 90th New York Infantry declared all enslaved laborers liberated from their owners. On April 18, 1863, the slave rolls at Fort Jefferson were officially discontinued, though legally the fort was in Federal control and therefore exempt from the provisions of the Emanicipation Proclamation.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: National Park Service, 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL, 33034
National Park Unit: Yes
Ownership: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Location Type: Site
People/Organizations Associated with the site: Captain John Thompson (Slave Catcher),Colonel Joseph S. Morgan,Dr. Daniel W. Whitehurst (Slave Catcher),Lieutenant H.G. Wright (Overseer)