Portraits of Seminole Leaders of the Second Seminole War

Information for Teachers

Background Information:

The United States waged three wars against the Seminoles in the 19thcentury. There were three primary causes of the Seminole Wars: conflicts over land, slavery, and trade. The largest of these conflicts, the Second Seminole War, was the longest and most costly Indian war in U.S. history.

The lithographs included here feature prominent Seminole leaders during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).  

By the era of the Seminole Wars (early 1800s), Native Americans in the southeast, including the Seminoles, had interacted with Europeans and Africans for almost 300 years. These interactions influenced Seminole dress, language, and customs. These lithographs provide insight into Native American cultural change, in this case using the example of clothing.

Use to Illustrate:

  • Pioneer life in Florida
  • Seminole culture in the early 1800s
  • The Seminole Wars

Tools for Analyzing Primary Sources Documents

  1. Photograph Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives and Records Administration.
  2. Teacher's Guides and Analysis Tools from the Library of Congress.

Relevant Standards

Next Generation Sunshine State Standards

  • SS.4.A.4.2:Describe pioneer life in Florida.
  • SS.8.A.4.18: Examine the experiences and perspectives of different ethnic, national, and religious groups in Florida, explaining their contributions to Florida's and America's society and culture during the Territorial Period.

Florida Standards

  • LAFS.910.RH.1.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.1.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Part I: Introducing Content

  1. Teachers should review previously covered material dealing with Native Americans, Westward Expansion, and/or the Seminoles.
    1. How did Native Americans dress?
    2. What did they look like?
    3. What were their clothes made from?
    4. How do you think contact with Europeans and Africans impacted Native American clothing styles?
  1. Conduct an in-class discussion/survey of students’ prior knowledge of the Seminoles and the Seminole Wars.
    1. Who are the Seminoles?
    2. Where did they come from?
    3. What are some of the problems that caused the Seminole Wars?

Part II: Photo Analysis

  1. Teachers should prompt students to imagine how they think Native Americans dressed in the early 1800s. Teachers may elect to separate students into groups to either develop lists and/or draw pictures of how they think Native Americans dressed in the early 1800s.
  2. Students will analyze the lithographs included here using the tools from the National Archives or the Library of Congress. Teachers should alert students to take note of things they expected to see as well as things they did not expect.
  3. Teachers should lead an in-class discussion about how these lithographs of Seminole leaders may help change students’ perceptions of how Native Americans dressed in the early 1800s. One of the main take-away points for students is that while they incorporated elements of European and African dress, Native Americans such as the Seminoles retained distinct styles. This idea is intended to help students better understand the slow pace of cultural change for Native Americans in the southeast and that these people remained Native American even if they adopted non-Indian styles of dress.

Part III: Writing About the Lithographs

Students may write a brief journal response on their favorite thing about the lithographs, or what they learned about Seminole dress in the early 1800s.