In March of 1862 during the Civil War, Union soldiers had occupied St. Augustine. In January of 1863, military authorities received the first version of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and ordered that all slaves in the area be released to congregate to a vacant lot on St. George Street.

The Proclamation was read, freeing all slaves in the state of Florida and making St. Augustine one of the first in the South to break the bonds of slavery by executive order.

This historic event took place on what is now The Collector, Luxury Inn & Gardens. Today, visitors can find a bell and plaque in the courtyard which serves as a monument to remember this event that changed the course of American history.

Explore: The Collector

Photo & Content: St. Johns Cultural Council