Just read this powerful essay from 1839 (The Voice of Freedom, a Vermont Anti-Slavery Newspaper) which powerfully places the blame for the Seminole Wars (3 of them: 1818, 1837, and 1858) as a product of a hidden agenda to deny runaway slaves refuge among the Seminole (a mixture of escaped Native Americans fleeing colonial expansion/Manifest Destiny in the upper states – recall, Florida was a Spanish Territory before 1821 – BTW, Seminole means “runaway” by some sources). Here’s the link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84022687/1839-12-21/ed-1/seq-4/
This article clearly supports the idea that the first seminole war was about denying refuge to the escaped slaves. Of course the 2nd and 3rd Seminole Wars were destined to happen once whites had the momentum of taking lands, farms, villages, hunting and fishing grounds from the Native Americans.
The cost of these 3 wars in yesterdays dollars was probably (combined) $60 Million with losses of lives ~4000-5000 from both sides. In today’s dollars, that cost (of JUST THE WAR machinations) would be $2 BILLION (see http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22926.pdf for comparisons).
This cost does not include the human tragedies, the Trail of Tears, the buy-outs/sell-outs, the continuing costs of law-suits and social costs wrought by devastating societies and civilizations and reducing them to poverty, purposelessness, and all of the social ills that have been associated with the US’ policies that displaced Native Americans.