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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

The history of Florida

Ever wondered how Florida became Florida? Well I was certainly intrigued enough to want to find out and thought I would share this in a potted history.

The first native Americans, Paleo Indians, entered into Florida over 14, 000 years ago from Asia. In this era it is believed that the sea level was at least 300 feet lower than that of today with twice the land mass and a cooler, drier climate. As Glaciers began melting and sea levels rose the climate became warmer and wetter. The Paleo Indian cultured evolved and spread out across the area in villages close to wetlands. This was known as the early Archaic transforming to middle and late Archaic periods over a period of 5000 years.

In relatively more recent times, i. e. during the early 16th century, Florida encountered its first European contact when Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida whilst searching for the Fountain of Youth. He landed on the east coast on 2 April 1521 where he named the land La Pascua Florida (Flowery Easter). It was after this discovery that settlement began, but not without its problems as there were many attacks made from the native population. For the next 100 years and more the Spanish set about colonising as much of Florida as possible, especially with the threat of French and/or English occupation.

During the 17th century the English, who had already settled in Virginia and the Carolinas gradually pushed their boundaries South. War was inevitable and the whole period between 1702 and 1763 was fraught with trouble. In 1763 Spain gave up Florida in return for control of Havana which had previously been invaded by the British. In Florida almost the entire Spanish population left and the British inhabited the land dividing it into two territories, East and West Florida.

British occupation in Florida was however relatively short lived when during the American Revolution the Spanish recaptured most of West Florida. In 1784 the Treaty of Paris returned all of Florida back to Spanish control.

Over the next 40 years Spain offered free land packages to attract settlers and foreigners arrived in thousands, so much so that Spanish presence became a minority. With Americans, and also British that had stayed put resenting the Spanish rule, a rebellion in 1810 created the Free and Independent Republic of West Florida on 23 September. Spain continued to offer free land to anyone that settled in Florida and thousands of Americans continued to settle in the colony.

After a period of unrest that followed including some small wars, the Adams-Onis treaty was signed between the United States and Spain in 1819 taking effect in 1821 when the United States took control of Florida. In 1822 Florida became an organised territory of the US and at this time East and West Florida were merged. On 3 March 1845 Florida became the 27th State of the United States of America, governed by English descendant William Dunn Moseley.

Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
Other articles by this author: click here

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Page added on: 22 July 2008
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