Telling the Story of Fort Mose
Nearly 250 years ago, a group of escaped enslaved peoples made the dangerous journey from British plantations in the Carolinas to St. Augustine, seeking freedom. In Spanish Florida under the Spanish crown, they would be granted that freedom. As word spread, more followed, and in 1738, the governor of Spanish Florida established Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first legally sanctioned free Black community in what is now the United States.
The settlement, known as Fort Mose, would stand for a quarter century despite the hardships of frontier life and pressure from the English crown. After its abandonment in 1763, Fort Mose lay unknown, unseen and its story untold – until now with the planned reconstruction of Fort Mose scheduled for groundbreaking in January 2024 and ribbon cutting in early 2025.
Touchpoint Innovative Solutions, publishers of EVOLVE News, EVOLVE Magazine and Parent Magazine, in partnership with St Augustine Amphitheatre, Florida State Parks Foundation, Fort Mose Historical Society and Florida Blue Foundation, are bringing The Story of Fort Mose to life in a series of digital publications.
According to Howard Holley, CEO and publisher at Touchpoint, the chance to tell the story of Fort Mose was an opportunity to bring to life an important piece of American and Florida history.
“I believe this is not just a St. Augustine story; it isn’t just a Florida story,” he said. “This is truly an American story of freedom, courage and perseverance.”
The Story of Fort Mose follows Touchpoint Innovative Solutions’ successful publication of the story of Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune’s life and legacy. The tale of Fort Mose was a worthy follow-up, Holley said. “Two years ago in 2021, we published the first Pride of Florida. It was about the journey of the statue of Mary Mcleod Bethune to the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. We felt it was a special story and found many people didn’t know about the statue, and we wanted to help tell that story,” he said. “We found the same thing to be true about this story of Fort Mose.”
The inaugural issue in The Pride of Florida: The Story of Fort Mose will be published in November 2023 and explores the history of the settlement, the effort to raise funds for the planned reconstruction project, the potential impact of the project on tourism development, details about the reconstruction project and information about the Fort Mose Historical Society. Future issues will feature the groundbreaking ceremonies, the 3rd Annual Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series, the creation of Fort Mose Historic State Park and other articles.
Holley said the free digital publications detailing the history of Fort Mose and the project to reconstruct a replica of the original 1738 fort will offer people the chance to immerse themselves in the story of courage and perseverance shown by the formerly enslaved people who built a community on the outskirts of St. Augustine.
“One of the things I am also hopeful will be that the result is not just people coming (to see the fort) but also people telling other folks and making a donation,” he said. “Maintaining this museum, maintaining this fort is going to be critical over a long horizon.”
The first issue of The Pride of Florida: The Story of Fort Mose is available beginning November at https://evolve-success.com/special-issues/the-story-of-fort-mose-fall-2023/. To subscribe go to https://evolve-success.com/support-the-fort/.