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Marc Mazique

John Horse (also known as John Cavallo, Juan Cavallo, Cohia, and Gopher John) was born in 1812 in Florida to Charles Cavallo, a Seminole tribesman, and a black woman living among the Seminole people of the then-Spanish territory. The Seminole were a Native American nation made up of Creek refugees and both free blacks (including numerous runaway slaves) and black slaves. While many Seminole owned slaves—Charles Cavallo presumably owned Horse's mother—modern scholars describe the Seminole practice as more feudally based, with slaves enjoying relative liberty and self-determination (families, homes, and property) for giving a percentage of their harvest to their masters. Blacks even set up independent maroon communities, and Seminole and blacks intermarried.

Little is known of Horse's early years. In 1818 he and his mother fled their home in the village of Sewanee to escape the advance of United States troops commanded by General Andrew ...