Sunday, August 17, 2008

Osceola - Part Three

This is a view of the paved trail leading from the Visitor Center to the prairie overlook at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park just south of Gainesville, Florida.
It was in country like this, this very country in fact, that the Alachua band of the Seminoles lived during the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second Seminole War in 1835.
Osceola became a young warrior hunting in these woods and surged to prominence at the Payne's Landing treaty negotiations in 1832. The Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed with the United States a decade earlier, had established a large reservation for the Seminole in the heart of present-day Central Florida. By the Treaty of Payne's Landing, however, the government attempted to negotiate the removal of the entire nation to new lands west of the Mississippi.
Osceola, although he did not have the standing of a chief, vehemently opposed the proposal. At the signing, according to legend, he suddenly stabbed a knife into the treaty document with an announcement that it was the only signing the United States would obtain from him.
Osceola was thrown into irons following the incident and there is strong reason to believe that the legend of the treaty "knifing" is true. The surviving copy of the document does include an unusual slit about the size of a knife blade.
Following his imprisonment and outburst, there was little doubt that Osceola would fight any attempts to force the Seminole from Florida. The stage was set for the coming war.
Our series on Osceola will continue.

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