Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley

From the cover of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. Florida Collection, E444. K56 S33 2003.

From the book jacket of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner by Daniel L. Schafer:

“Both an American slave and a slave owner – and possibly an African princess – Anna was a teenager when she was captured in her homeland of Senegal in 1806 and sold into slavery. Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr., a planter and slave trader from Spanish East Florida, brought her in Havana, Cuba, and took her to his St. Johns River plantation in northeast Florida, where she soon became his household manager, his wife, and eventually the mother of four of his children. Her husband formally emancipated her in 1811, and she became the owner of her own farm and twelve slaves the following year. For 25 years, life on her farm and at the Kingsley plantation on Fort George Island was relatively tranquil. But when Florida passed from Spanish to American control, and racism and discrimination increased in the American territories, Anna Kingsley and her children migrated to a colony in Haiti established by her husband as a refuge for free blacks. Amid the spiraling racial tensions of the antebellum period, Anna returned to north Florida, where she bought and sold land, sued white people in the courts, and became a central figure in a free black community. Such accomplishments by a woman in a patriarchal society are fascinating in themselves. To have achieved them as a woman of color is remarkable.”

Anna returned to Florida from Haiti in 1846 to fight for the control of Zephaniah Kingsley’s Florida properties. He had died in 1843, and his sister Martha McNeil had tried to have her brother’s will declared “null and void”. She did not want Kingsley heirs of African ancestry to inherit his estate. The Florida courts ruled in Anna’s favor, and she remained in Florida as the matriarch of the Kingsley clan until 1862 when she went North with her family to escape  pro-slavery. She returned in 1865 with her daughters to their diminished estates and wealth. Anna died in the spring of 1870 and was first buried in a family cemetery, but her final burial place is in an unmarked grave in the Arlington area of Jacksonville, Florida.  Anna was from the Wolof states of Senegal and was Anta Majigeen Ndiaye before she was captured.

One thought on “Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley

  1. New book of interest: “Lincoln’s tragic pragmatism” by John Burt re the debates on human rights mid-19th C. Only 814 pgs. Reviewd in WSJ 2/15/2013. Thanks, Gina for alerting me to this blog.

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