More than 300 years ago, courageous Africans escaped from enslavement in British colonies. They fled southward on foot to Spanish St. Augustine, crossing swamps and dense tropical forests. Along the way, they sought assistance from Natives, thus creating the first ‘underground railroad’.

Not all survived. Those who reached St. Augustine were granted asylum by the Spanish government. It was a unique offer—freedom, in exchange for conversion to Catholicism and, for men, a term of military service.

The first freedom seekers arrived in 1687 and by 1738, more than 100 freedom seekers had achieved asylum. In that year, a fortified town named Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose was constructed on St. Augustine’s northernmost border. Fort Mose became the site of the first free black community in what is now the United States.

Over the years, the Fort Mose site was swallowed by marsh, and the important legacy of its community was largely forgotten. Late in the twentieth century, a highly dedicated team of archaeologists, historians, government leaders and committed citizens helped restore Fort Mose to its rightful place of honor. Today, Fort Mose is recognized as a significant local, national and international historic landmark.

Your support will bring the story of Fort Mose to life!

Contribute today to help us reconstruct the original 1738 Fort Mose and ensure that the story of America's First Site of Freedom is told for generations to come.

1738 Fort Mose Reconstruction Information

  • The Florida State Parks Foundation is working in coordination with the Florida Park Service to construct a reconstruction of the 1738 Fort Mose on the land of the Fort Mose Historic State Park where no fort currently exists.
  • In keeping with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Standards for Reconstruction, the plans for this reconstruction "...will be based on the accurate duplication of historic features and elements substantiated by documentary or physical evidence."
  • In addition to construction of the fort, this project will outfit the fort with interpretation so that park visitors will understand the historical significance of the story of Fort Mose.
  • Groundbreaking is scheduled for January 2024, with completion anticipated in fall 2024.