Fort Mose was established in 1738, when over 100 runaway slaves arrived seeking refuge from their northern plantations. It was the first free Black settlement of self-emancipated slaves in what is now the United States.
Spanish Governor Manuel Montiano of St. Augustine, Florida, refused to hand the escapees back to the English. He granted their freedom once they converted to Spanish Catholicism and pledged loyalty to the Spanish Crown by serving as St. Augustine militia.
In 1740, English General James Oglethorpe's forces attacked St. Augustine. The Fort Mose militia, commanded by Captain Francisco Menendez, successfully thwarted the English invasion. Fort Mose was destroyed in a bloody battle and its residents fled to St. Augustine. Twelve years later in 1752, by order of the Spanish governor, the Fort was rebuilt and the village re-populated by free blacks.