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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Re: Arne's post on Norway and PALMM

Hello again Ed:

A bit of Florida history may help you in tracing your ancestor Trotti. Please use the PALMM collections to search for specific history.

You wrote that Trotti migrated to Florida in the 1770's. As a result of the French and Indian war, England acquired Florida and ruled it from 1763 to 1784. The free people of color prior to 1763 flourished under Spanish rule. For example in East Florida, one of Florida's early settlements of free Blacks was Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose. (Fort Mose)

However, when the British took over Florida, "Black freedom in Florida became only a remote possibility", wrote Jane Landers "The New History of Florida" Chapter 10 "Free and Slave". When Spain abandoned Florida to the British, Landers adds "The Spanish Crown evacuated St. Augustine and its black and Indian allies to Cuba."

My question is why would Trotti, a free man of color come to Florida in the 1770's. Where did he come from? Florida did not become a haven for Blacks until the Second Spanish Interlude (1784 to 1821).

You mention a "disagreement" with Florida's governor. It's important to note that during the 1700's and British rule, there were two Floridas. East Florida and West Florida. Each had its own governor. Do you know what part of Florida Trotti came from? This would help in placing him somewhere in Florida.

I'm not aware of unfavorable laws specifically targeted to free people of color under the British government. Certainly the atmosphere wasn't conducive to black people in general as per Landers' observation above. Was this "disagreement" a personal one between Trotti and the Governor? Perhaps there is a record of it?

The first governor in Territorial Florida (1821) was the American Andrew Jackson. When the transfer of Florida from Spain to the US took place, the Spanish Crown once again (as they did in 1763) offered refuge to Blacks in Cuba. Not only did the Spanish offer refuge, but gave them financial support and land once they had arrived in Cuba. (Montanzas). These free Blacks weighed the consequences of holding on to their livelihood and possessions versus leaving everything to continue living under a more lenient Spanish rule. (See Jane Landers' "Black Society in Spanish Florida”) For those who stayed, their fears were justified. You'll find the petition of Del Jupiter's ancestors the Keyser family in Santa Rosa in "Slaves and the Courts." Del as you know is a recognized genealogist and has published her research on families in Pensacola and Mobile. She's also a contributor to Afrigeneas. We're all proud of her scholarship.

I do know that laws were instituted against the free people of color in 1848 (approximately). But by then Florida had just become a part of the United States. (1845). In 1857, many free people fled to Tampico, Mexico and other Caribbean Islands. (Search Hargis in the Florida Historical Society).

So Ed, pardon my questions. But perhaps the dates I mention will help to firm up a time frame. In order for me to help, I need your feedback.

Below is a link to a discussion with Denise Oliver-Velez on the Constructions of Race in Spanish Florida. It includes a more detailed description of Jane Landers’ articles on Florida and links to the PALMM Collections.

K Wyer Lane

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Arne's post on Norway
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Emmanuel Zespedes
Patrick Tonyn Governor East Florida
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Gasper Trotti
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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