Every story’s beginning is important, and that’s true for how Levy County was established as a county. As you may know, it was named after influential Floridian David Levy, but it also has a strong connection with the Seminole Wars in the Southeastern corner of the U.S. In the early 1800s, the area that now encompasses the state of Florida experienced a turbulent and violent period triggered by the expansionary policies of the US government. Levy County was created shortly after the second Seminole War as boundaries were being redefined. Below you’ll find a short explanation of the significance of the Seminole Wars in shaping the Florida we know today.
Andrew Jackson’s Bold Move
At the end of 1817, Andrew Jackson took over control of US forces in the Southeastern part of the country; he didn’t waste any time stamping his authority on the situation. He was a bold leader and he had little hesitation when he decided to invade Spanish Florida to quell unrest on the US border. With an army of 4,000 men made up partially of US regulars and Creek Indians, he made short work of Seminole resistance. By May of 1818, Spanish Florida was fully under control of the US army. General Andrew Jackson left Florida in 1821 and would eventually become the President of the U.S. in 1829.
Recognizing the writing on the wall, Spain had little choice but to sell Florida to the U.S. While this was a positive development for the young nation, it wasn’t so for the Seminole Indians. They had lived with a great deal of autonomy under the Spanish administration, but that didn’t last after the Spanish left Florida. The Seminoles felt the push of American expansionism, and while they tried to fight back over three separate wars, their efforts would eventually prove to be futile. By the 1850s, American authority was firmly established in Florida.
Who Were the Seminoles?
Popular myth may lead us to believe that the Seminole Indians were a homogeneous entity, but they were actually a group of different bands that sometimes worked in unison when it was necessary. They were made up of many different cultures and they even included some black Americans among their numbers. If they had been a unified force they might have done better against the invading US forces, but that’s pure speculation.
The End of the Wars
The third Seminole war was a desperate attempt by the Seminole Indians to resist the unceasing encroachment of white America on their land, but ultimately it was unsuccessful. The fighting lasted for about three years, which was actually fairly impressive, given the odds stacked against them. This war didn’t really have any major battles. It consisted mainly of a series of raids and skirmishes by both sides, and ultimately led to the end of significant Seminole influence in Florida. Eventually, most Seminoles were relocated to Oklahoma; that’s where you’ll find the largest population of Seminoles in the U.S. today.