The Maroons, whose protection by the Indians was as much a
cause of the war as the acquisition of land, were fugitive slaves from
Georgia and Alabama. They had lived so long with the Indians that their
identity was all but lost. They were content under a mild form of slavery
with the Seminole, had intermarried with them in a few cases, and hold
considerable influence in council.
It was the thought of leaving the land, together with real and
fancied wrongs, that raised the knife in the hand of Osceola high above
his head, to bring it plunging through the two-year-old treaty of Payne's
Lending, still ungratified by the Indians, as he said in violence: "This is
only way I will sign."
Harried by a civilization that too often pushed them beyond its
borders instead of making them a part of its life, the Seminoles
sometimes tried to take their own lives. On the ground in the night,
concealed by his blankets, it is known that one Indian tied a rope around
his neck, attached the dangling end of the short length to his ankle in
such a way that when he straightened his leg he might strangle himself.
Driven from the northern and central parts of the State, their fields
razed, their cattle confiscated, the Indians found refuge in the south. Big
Cypress Swamp and the Everglades became their home and their stronghold.
And it was in this little-known region that the concluding events of the