JANUARY 30, 1838


Born Billy Powell in Alabama in 1804 to a Creek mother and Scottish father, he and his mother moved to Spanish Florida after the Creek War.  There, they joined the Seminoles, a mixed people of several tribes and runaway slaves and Billy took the name “Osceola,” or “Black Drink Singer.”  His fame began with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which led to the removal of five southeastern to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma.  The Seminoles resistance led to the Second Seminole War.  Osceola proved to be a tactician and leader.  The army never beat him in the field.  In October 1837, while negotiating under a white flag of truce, the army took him prisoner.  First imprisoned at Fort Marion, in December 1837, after twenty Seminole warriors escaped, he was transferred to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, where he died surrounded by his two wives and children.  He is buried outside of the fort.  The Seminole Wars were the longest, most expensive Indian wars fought by the U.S. with over 2,000 soldiers killed.  

Source: “Osceola: Seminole Warrior,” Fort Sumter, National Monument, South Carolina. National Park Service.  Retrieved 6/6/2019, https://www.nps.gov/fosu/learn/historyculture/osceola.htm
Painting:  George Catlin (-- 1872), 1/1838.  Smithsonian American Art Museum. Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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