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Osceola – Seminole Indian military leader

Osceola - Seminole Indian military leader. Portrait by J. R. Winton, 1837

Osceola – Seminole Indian military leader. Portrait by J. R. Winton, 1837


Osceola was a military leader of the Native American people, Seminole. In the 1830s he fought against the U.S. government, because they wanted the Seminole to leave their homeland in Florida.
Osceola was born in 1804 in Georgia. His mother was a Native American, member of the Creek nation. A white Scottish trader, William Powell, became his mother’s second husband. The family moved to northern Florida and joined the Seminole when Osceola was a boy.
In 1819 Spain sold Florida to the United States and this opened the fertile lands of the Seminole for white Americans. Later, in 1823, an agreement was signed according to which the Seminole had to leave the coastal territories and move inland, to the marshy lands of central Florida, which were not suitable for habitation. Osceola spoke out against it and was sent to prison. After the release he organized a fighting force. The warriors killed the U.S. official and the Seminole chief who had signed the treaty. So the Second Seminole War began in 1835. Resistance lasted almost two years.

On October 21, 1837 Osceola was sized during peace talks with U.S. officials. He was placed at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida. Then, in December, he and other captives were transferred to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. There the artist George Kathleen met him and convinced to pose for two portraits. Robert Curtis also painted his portrait.
On January 30, 1838 Osceola died of malaria (according to other sources – from phlegmonous angina) in a South Carolina prison.
By the way, he became greatly popular after his death. Numerous literary works were written about him, including the well-known Mine Reed’s novel Osceola the Seminole.
The Seminole continued fighting until 1842. Most of the tribe was deported. In 1962, the Miccosukee Reservation was created in the state of Florida. Also there is the Osceola National Forest there.
Numerous localities in the USA, as well as Osceola counties in the states of Florida, Iowa and Michigan, are named in his honor.
Osceola - Seminole Indian military leader

Portrait by R.J. Curtis

Osceola – Seminole Indian military leader