The United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821. The Spanish had relatively liberal policies regarding issues of race, but American territorial law brought many changes. At a time when many slaveholders feared slave rebellions, oppressive laws were enacted and conditions for Florida’s black population, free and enslaved, deteriorated. Kingsley was against the restrictive laws, arguing that more humane treatment would ensure peace and the perpetuation of slavery. In 1828, he published his opinions in A Treatise on The Patriarchal, or Co-operative System of Society As It Exists in Some Governments . . . Under the Name of Slavery.
To escape what Kingsley called a “spirit of intolerant prejudice,” Anna Jai and their sons moved to Haiti in 1837. There, Kingsley established a colony for his family and some of his former slaves. In 1839, Fort George Island was sold to his nephew Kingsley Beatty Gibbs. Zephaniah Kingsley died in New York City in 1843.
Kingsley Plantation symbolizes a time and a place in history. More than that, Kingsley Plantation represents people, free and enslaved, ordinary and extraordinary, and their efforts to survive in a changing land. The stories of these people, often heroic, and their contributions to history can be explored at Kingsley Plantation.