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Jul 3 · Last update 3 mo. ago.

What was the significance of the Seminole Wars?

The Seminole Wars were fought in Florida in the 19th century and are commonly known as the longest, most costly, and deadliest conflicts of the “Indian Wars” period of United States history. At the time the US, and the world at large, were vastly different places territorially, and these conflicts took place against a backdrop of tensions between European colonial powers and their gradual loss of control over the continent. The Seminole Wars ended by the time of the American Civil War as the Indian Wars waged on elsewhere in the US. What happened during the Seminole Wars, and what is the larger significance of these conflicts?
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Genocidal campaign against indigenous people of Florida
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Genocidal campaign against indigenous people of Florida

The Seminole Wars began with General Andrew Jackson's territorial expansions into East Florida following the War of 1812, and ended with the vast majority of the Seminole population dead or driven out of their native homes. But it was the under the control of General Thomas Sidney Jesup that the US campaign against the Native Seminoles of Florida became what would be recognised as genocidal war crimes in the modern day, and indeed were just as controversial at the time. Although outnumbering the natives Jesup turned to destroying villages and farms as a result of not being able to deal with their effective guerrilla tactics, Jesup was famously quoted as believing that the US "can be rid of them only by exterminating them" in regard to the Seminoles [1].

Under Jesup's command a false flag truce was staged in order to capture the Seminole leaders Osceola and Micanopy, which caused international calls for Jesup's firing as it was widely seen as a ruthless breaching of one of the oldest and most respected conventions of war. By just 1840 most of the Seminole population had been killed by disease, starvation, in battle, or had fled to Indian Territory and by the end of the wars it is thought that around 500 Seminole natives fled deep into the swamp land unwanted by white settlers. The United States spent over $20 million, 1,500 soldiers and uncountable civilian lives in this dirty war against Florida's natives.

[1] globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1995/WJC.htm warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/osceola-seminole-war.html popularresistance.org/most-us-wars-were-started-for-resource-theft-imperial-hubris-and-racist-animus dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-history/seminole-history/the-seminole-wars worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/war.crimes/US/Indian.Removal.htm

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Jul 3
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