In the early years of the nineteenth century, the population of Spanish Florida was small but diverse. Americans and Europeans came seeking wealth by obtaining land and establishing plantations. The forced labor of enslaved Africans secured that wealth. Those Africans who were freed by their owners or who purchased their own freedom became farmers, tradesmen, or black militiamen who helped protect the colony. On the frontier, away from the settlements and plantations, the Seminole Indians and the Black Seminoles kept an uneasy vigil on the encroaching development of Florida.
Among those striving for freedom and security in Spanish Florida was Anna Kingsley. Anna was the African wife of plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley. At an early age she survived the Middle Passage and dehumanizing slave markets to become the property of Kingsley. After manumission by her husband, Anna became a landowner and slaveholder. She raised her four children while managing a plantation that utilized African slave labor. She survived brutal changes in race policies and social attitudes brought by successive governments in Florida, but survival demanded difficult, often dangerous, choices.
Anna Kingsley was a woman of courage and determination. She is an example of the active role that people of color played in shaping their own destinies and our country's history in an era of slavery, oppression, and prejudice. She left, however, no personal descriptions of her life. She was not a famous or powerful person who figured prominently in accounts of that era. Today we must find Anna in the official documents of her time and in the historic structures that she inhabited. There, her story may be discovered...
Continue with Anna Kingsley: A Free Woman.
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