Black Society in Spanish Florida
by Jane Landers
University of Illinois Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-252-06753-2 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02446-7
Library of Congress Classification F320.N4L36 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 975.900496073


Blacks under Spanish rule in Florida lived in a more complex and international world that linked the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe with a powerful and diverse Indian hinterland. Jane Landers’s pioneering study of people of the African diaspora under Spain’s colonial rule rewrites Florida history and enriches our understanding of the powerful links between race relations and cultural custom. 

As Landers shows, Spanish Florida was a sanctuary to Blacks fleeing enslavement on plantations. Castilian law, meanwhile, offered many avenues out of slavery. In St. Augustine and elsewhere, society accepted European-African unions, with families developing community connections through marriage, concubinage, and godparents. Assisted by Spanish traditions and ever-present geopolitical threats, people of African descent leveraged linguistic, military, diplomatic, and artisanal skills into citizenship and property rights. Landers details how Blacks became homesteaders, property owners, and entrepreneurs, and in the process enjoyed greater legal and social protection than in the two hundred years of Anglo history that followed.

Nearby on shelf for United States local history / Gulf States. West Florida / Florida: