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Victor George Spirits has just released its new bourbon, Fort Mosé 1738, nationwide. The bourbon is named after Fort Mose, the first settlement in which Black people were able to live freely in America, which was established in 1738 in Florida. The company, which was founded by African American spirits maker Victor G. Harvey, has acquired a majority interest in Palm Beach Distillery, Florida’s first female-owned distillery, and Fort Mose’ is produced there.
The story behind Fort Mose and its significance in American history is one that is not often told. Located just two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose was established in 1738 as a place for Black people to seek refuge from slavery. The Spanish government, which controlled the area at the time, offered asylum to runaway slaves from the British Colonies in exchange for their conversion to Catholicism and military service for men. By 1738, there were enough people seeking refuge at Fort Mose that it was established as the first free Black town in America.
Fort Mose played a crucial role in the early history of the Underground Railroad. Slaves who were able to make it to Fort Mose were able to live freely and seek protection from the Spanish government. In fact, the Underground Railroad in Florida ran south rather than north, with many slaves seeking freedom in Florida rather than in the free states.
Victor G. Harvey, the founder of Victor George Spirits, has a personal connection to Fort Mose and its history. Harvey, who has been in the spirits industry since 2007, wanted to create his own products rather than just putting his name on a private label. His goal is to create the largest Black-owned spirits company in the world and to be a part of American history. That’s why he chose to name his brand Fort Mose’ 1738, honoring the story of the first free Black town in America.
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