Vocabulary Words for Hope of Freedom:

Southern Blacks and the American Revolution

Chapter One: Africans came first to Florida

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Captives: Those who have been taken by force and held against their will.

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Excavated: In this case, to unearth, or methodically dig up, buried objects and then scientifically document the information in order to learn more about the past.

Chapter Two: A Spanish safe haven in Florida

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Prospered: To have become successful. In this case, the economy of the entire colony was prospering and doing well.

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Royal Edict: An official order issued by a king or queen, typically when dealing with foreign powers or matters involving the security of their kingdom or empire.

Militia: Militias were military units made up of private citizens who served part-time. During the Revolution, colonial militias were a welcome addition to the American army. But British soldiers had little respect for Loyalist militias and treated them poorly. Today, we refer to state militias as the National Guard. The oldest Guard unit in America is based in St. Augustine, FL.

Convert: To change your opinions, beliefs, or way of life to embrace a different view on matters. In this case, enslaved blacks were required to put aside whatever religious beliefs they had and embrace the Catholic faith.

Catholicism: The faith, system, and practice of the Catholic Church.

Refuge: Refuge describes a safe place. This is why civilians who hope to escape the horrors of war by running to a safe area, or in this case to find their freedom, are called refugees.

Retrieve: To recover or fetch back again; to bring back to a former state. In this case, to capture and re-enslave.

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Absorbed: To drink in or soak up, as a sponge absorbs water. The water still exists, it’s just now a part of the sponge. In this case, the region of Wales was made a part of England, but in a manner that its culture and traditions still exist.

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Countered: To counter, as it’s used in this sentence, is to deliver a blow or punch in direct response to the movement of your opponent. Fighters and military strategists recognize their opponent’s attack and counter this movement by delivering a blow that is contrary to what their opponent expects. In 1738, Spain established Fort Mose as a counter, or response to, Britain creating the colony of Georgia five years earlier.

Chapter Three: 1763: Drastic change for Blacks in the Southern Colonies

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Reap: To gain, receive, or take-in as the result of an action; an agricultural term for harvesting, or reaping, crops.

Feasible: When something has potential to happen; is capable of being done; could very likely take place – yet is not guaranteed.

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Dominate: In this case, to completely outnumber. By January 1783, the black population of East Florida outnumbered the white population by a margin of 3–2. South Carolina was the only other North American colony/state where the number of black inhabitants exceeded that of whites.

Hostile: To be aggressively unfriendly. In this case, the empires of Spain and Great Britain were enemies and constantly at war.

Empires: A group of nations or people ruled by a powerful sovereign (person who has supreme power or authority) or government. Typically, an empire is a territory of much greater size than a kingdom and often contained other governments, nations, or kingdoms that had been overcome. The British Empire became the largest empire in the history of the world.

Drastically: In this case, it means extensive, which is often used to define expansion, growth, and increase. In 1763, Great Britain gained five new colonies in North America, bringing a sudden and extreme increase to the empire all at once.

Possessing: To own or control property or other possessions. The Spanish completed the building of the Castillo de San Marcos in 1795, but now the British controlled the fortress because they owned East Florida where the fortress sits.

Masonry fortress: A fortress is a large fortified place, which often included entire towns either existing inside the walls of the fortress or were near enough and large enough for the people to seek protection there. A masonry fortress is one that is built from stone by skilled craftsmen, known as stone masons.

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Contradictions: To be inconsistent or conflicting. To say or act in one manner, then do the opposite. In this case, the Sons of Liberty were seen as phony, in that they shouted for liberty while many of them owned slaves.

Incite: To stimulate, urge, or stir to action; to make others angry over a common issue.

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Bandits: Outlaws, robbers, and thieves. During the American Revolution they were more often referred to as banditti (ban-DIT-ee), which is where we get the word bandit. They were also called highwaymen because their crimes often involved robbing coaches and travelers on the roads and highways between towns.

Revolt: When people rise up in rebellion against their circumstances or, in this case, their owners. It can also mean disgusted, which makes sense – people revolt when they become so disgusted that they believe rebellion is the only answer.

Chapter Four: British proclamations of “Freedom”

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Proclamation: A little-use term today for public, official announcement that would typically establish new laws or royal decrees.

Ethiopian Regiment: A military unit formed by Lord Dunmore, the ousted governor of Virginia. The regiment was made from runaway slaves. When Dunmore was run out of office, he announced that he would grant freedom to any slave whose owner was a rebel if they would runaway to fight for the British. Dunmore gave these men new uniforms and weapons, and named them the Ethiopian Regiment as a way of giving them pride in who they were and what they were fighting for.

Instill: To introduce gradually or slowly by another; to have injected or poured drop by drop. In this case, however, the process is meant to occur immediately, but the idea is the same. Pride, honor, and encouragement for their actions is being applied to these former slaves by a second party, Lord Dunmore.

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Scoundrel: A person with no honor or principles; a villain.

Evacuated: To remove people from a place of danger (war zone, area of natural disaster, etc.) to a place of safety.

Awe: Overwhelming wonder, admiration, respect, power, fear, or dread. As used here, it would mean the power or desire to inspire fear and reverence in the slave population.

Fundamental: To belong or be essential to principles, truths, laws, or concepts – the foundations of a belief. To be fundamental is to maintain or return to the original ideas.

Refugees: People who flee from the dangers of war, persecution, or harm and seek safety somewhere else.

Deposed: To be removed from an office or position of authority, in this case under threat of being captured by those in rebellion.

Adamantly: To be completely unmovable in a stance, attitude, or position taken; unyielding and unshakable, in spite of all arguments or appeals to do otherwise.

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Decree: A law, order, or judgement made by someone in authority who cannot be overruled.

Reconciliation: The act of reconciling or coming to terms of agreement with those you disagree with, have hurt feelings with, or in this case, have become enemies.

Musket: A heavy, long barreled gun with a smooth bore that was used by soldiers from the 16th to 19th centuries. Once the technology of rifling was invented, inaccurate muskets were no longer practical.

Bayonet: A sharp, pointed blade that can be attached to the end of a musket or rifle and used to stab and slash the enemy during hand-to-hand combat.

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Plundered: To rob or steal openly by force, as in war, raids, or riots. Other terms for this action are looting and pillaging.

Chaotic: Confused and without order.

Exposure: For something to be exposed, it is uncovered, bare for all to see; left vulnerable. Exposure, as used in this sense runs along the lines of the last idea. These people were left unprotected from the elements of nature; vulnerable to the sun, wind, rain, and wildlife. Being left in such an exposed condition, they became weak and sick, and many died.

Vessels: Ships/boats that can carry passengers and/or cargo.

Bindings: Anything that binds, fastens, or attaches. Ropes and bungee cords are a type of binding, but so is the spine of a book that connects and holds the pages in place. Once this takes place the book is referred to as bound.

Chapter Five: For those who found freedom…?

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Liberating: The act of setting an individual or people free; to free a nation or area from a foreign or harsh government.

Requisitioned: An authoritative or formal demand for something to be given, done, or supplied – in this case, human beings.

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Peninsula: An area of land almost completely surrounded by water, but is still connected to the mainland. The state of Florida is an example of a large peninsula.

Crest: The top or highest part of anything, whether it’s a wave, a ridge on a mountain, or a natural growth on the head of an animal; flood levels are said to have crested when they reach their highest point. In this case, it refers to the top of the earthwork defenses.

Siege: To surround and attack a fortified place in such a way that keeps help and supplies from reaching those inside. The idea is to cause those inside the fortress to run out of supplies and food, forcing them to surrender. A siege can last for months.

Sappers: Soldiers who cut roads, build fortifications, and dig trenches and tunnels that approach enemy positions.

Stretcher bearers: Men who carried wounded soldiers from the battlefield on stretchers, a rig that was typically made of a large piece of canvas stretched over a rectangular frame.

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Deplorable: Wretched; horrible; very bad.

Tyranny: The abuse of power or authority; unjust severity or harshness.

Hypocrisy: When a person pretends to have a moral and just character, or religious beliefs and principles that they really don’t possess.

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Dire: As used here, it’s a reference to potential trouble, even to the point of becoming disastrous events, if the slaves were to revolt in these colonies.

Chapter Six: In the service of the Crown

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Provincial: That which is from the provinces or colonies; another word for colonial. Provincial regiments were official regiments in the regular British army whose fighting men came from the colonies.

Advocated: To support or urge by argument, strongly recommend, or plead on behalf of another person, group, or cause.

Precedent: An act, legal decision, or official example serving as a guide or justification for similar situations now or in the future.

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Rigid: Firmly fixed or set; stiff, unbending; strict, even to the point of severe so as to meet precise standards.

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Fabled: Fictitious; having no real existence.

Entitlements: Entitlements are those things that are considered basic to the rights of individuals. American school-age children, for example, are entitled to a free education; it’s their right. On a much larger scale, every human being has basic entitlements, such as freedom, but they aren’t always respected. In this case, when these enslaved people ran to gain their freedom and that basic right, or entitlement, was respected by those they ran to, it was a feeling that some of them had not experienced since their capture and enslavement; some had never known it at all.

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Privateers: Seamen who sailed on privately owned ships under a contract, known as a Letter of Marque, for a designated purpose, government, and period of time. This legal document was the difference between being honored as a sailor in an official navy or a pirate and a criminal.

Letter of Marque: A Letter of Marque was the difference between a legally appointed agent of king and country and a criminal, and these letters were accepted by every empire and nation. A Letter of Marque issued by a royal governor in the British colonies would have been honored by a French ship’s captain in the China Sea. In East Florida, Governor Tonyn issued many Letters of Marque, as the Royal Navy didn’t see East Florida as being in harm’s way during the Revolution and refused to provide a steady naval presence. Tonyn would build what he called a “fresh-water navy” from the local seamen who were willing to patrol the many rivers, creeks, and estuaries of northeast Florida.

Estuaries: Where a river’s fresh water meets the tide of the sea or ocean. This mixture of fresh and salt water is called brackish.

Chapter Seven: Taking control of their own destinies

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Wreak havoc: To inflict or execute great destruction or devastation; terrible damage.


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Vast: Of very great size or large proportions; huge; enormous.

Inconsistency: Something that is not consistent, even, uniform, or constant; is not the same time after time.

Status: The position of an individual in relation to others, especially in a social or professional standing or situation.

Documented: To write down, print, or record information or evidence for official or legal purposes. In this case, Governor Tonyn was providing his superiors in London with the official records of the British evacuation and the numbers of people of all types who were officially leaving East Florida and where they were going.