Anna Kingsley

Plantation owner and former slave
Born: 1793
Birthplace: Senegal

Anna Madgigine Jai was captured in her native country of Senegal in 1806 when she was about 13 years old. She was brought to Florida, then a Spanish colony, as a slave. She was sold to Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and a maritime merchant, and worked on his plantation in northeast Florida. Kingsley married her and then freed her from slavery in 1811. They had four children. She became the manager of the plantation and held the position for twenty-five years. Anna became a slave owner herself. Her husband stated that 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, however, life grew difficult. The U.S. laws concerning freed blacks were far more restrictive than those of Spain. Anna Kingsley's status as a freed slave and land owner were threatened, and her interracial marriage was viewed as unacceptable in the new U.S. state of Florida. The Kingsleys fled to Haiti, where they ran a large plantation and created a colony for free blacks. After Zephaniah's death in 1843, Anna Kingsley returned to Florida, where she fought the courts to claim the land left to her and her children in Zephaniah's will. After a difficult court battle (some of his white relatives had contested her claim), Anna 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.

Died: 1870
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