Fort Mose Historic State Park
St. Augustine, St. Johns County
In 1693, King Charles II of Spain granted sanctuary to foreign slaves who escaped to Spanish lands. This was reaffirmed in 1733 with a royal edict which required conversion to Catholicism and four years of service to the king in exchange for freedom. Established in 1739, Fort Mose was the first legally sanctioned, free African-American settlement in what is now the United States. The African residents of Fort Mose included Mandingos, Congos, Carabalis, Minas, Gambas, Lecumis, Sambas, Gangas, Araras, and Guineans, all former slaves from the Carolinas who had escaped bondage by traveling south to Spanish Florida. From 1986-1988 archaeologists and historians excavated and researched the site of Fort Mose. This research uncovered remains of a once vibrant community whose soldiers were essential for the success and survival of St. Augustine.
Did You Know...
- A boardwalk across the marsh takes visitors to the site of Fort Mose and an interpretive overlook.
- Dr. Kathleen Deagan of the Florida Museum of Natural History led the most extensive archaeological investigations of Fort Mose to date. Her team found evidence for structures within the fort based on post molds and recovered over 3,000 artifacts from the site.
- The park is a National Historic Landmark and the premier site on the Florida Black Heritage Trail.