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This date in 1793 celebrates the birth of Anna Kingsley. She was a Black African plantation owner, abolitionist, and former slave in America.
Born Anna Madgigine Jai in Senegal, she was captured in her native country in 1806 when she was 13. She was brought to Florida, then a Spanish colony, where she was sold to Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and a maritime merchant. She worked on his plantation in northeast Florida. Kingsley married her and allowed for her freedom in 1811. They had four children. She became the manager of the plantation and held the position for 25 years. Anna Kingsley became a slave owner herself. Her husband said she “could carry on all the affairs of the plantation in my absence as well as I could myself.”
After Spain sold Florida to the United States in 1819, life grew difficult. The U.S. laws concerning freed Blacks were far more restrictive than those of Spain. Kingsley's status as a freed slave and landowner was threatened. Plus, her interracial marriage was unacceptable in the new state of Florida. The Kingsleys fled to Haiti, where they ran another plantation and created a colony for free Blacks. After her husband had died in 1843, Kingsley returned to Florida, where she fought the courts to claim the land left to her and her children in his will.
After a difficult court battle (some of his white relatives had contested her claim), Kingsley won the right to her inheritance. Her skill at running a plantation and her battle for property rights made her a celebrated and influential figure in the free Black community of northern Florida. Anna Kingsley died in 1870.
Image, Manuel LeBron