A Brief History -
On March 27, 1513, during Juan Ponce de Leon’s exploratory voyage, Florida became a focal point for the earliest European interest and permanent settlement within the continental United States. Ponce and his fleet of three ships landed on the east coast of Florida between St. Mary’s and Cape Canaveral. The peninsula was named Florida, in honor of the Easter feast day, “Pascua Florida.”
At this juncture, Ponce de León was a veteran of Christopher Columbus’ second expedition and the recently-deposed governor of San Juan de Puerto Rico. HM Queen Isabela I of Spain gave Ponce de León a royal contract granting him the right to settle and govern the fabled island of Bimini, and explore any nearby lands. He sailed northwest through the Bahamas and came across an unexpected landmass, the North American continent. Over the course of the next two and a half months following first landfall, Ponce de León’s fleet scoured the entire southern coast of Florida, rounding the Florida Keys and reaching around the west coast to today’s Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island. Throughout their trek the Spanish skirmished with the native inhabitants, including the Calusa, Tequesta, Timucua, Apalachee and Mayaca tribes. Ponce de León returned eight years later in 1521, with two ships of colonists. However, he was quickly repulsed and mortally wounded by Native American attacks.
In 1559, Spanish sailor Don Tristán de Luna arrived in Pensacola with a contingent of more than 1,500 soldiers, servants, settlers, priests and indigenous Mexicans. He made the first European settlement attempt in the continental United States on Pensacola Bay, and 2009 marks its 450th anniversary. The settlement was destroyed by a hurricane within a few weeks, resulting in Spain’s loss of control of the northern Gulf Coast in the sixteenth century, opening the door to English and French rule in the seventeenth century.
The area near present day St. Augustine was first visited by Ponce de León in 1513. However, it wasn’t settled until 1565 when Pedro Menéndez de Aviles established what is commonly referred to as our nation’s “oldest city.” Spanish Florida’s first years under Menéndez were characterized by rapid military expansion, including a string of coastal forts extending around the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. In the face of widespread local Native American resistance, all but Florida’s twin port cities of St. Augustine and Santa Elena (present day Parris Island, South Carolina) had been overthrown or withdrawn by 1570. Santa Elena was abandoned in 1587, and St. Augustine remained as the principal hub of colonial Spanish Florida through 1763.
In the aftermath of the Seven Year War/French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris was signed and Spain finally surrendered Florida to British control. However, Spanish interest in Florida never disappeared during the British period and Spain declared war against Britain in 1779, becoming an ally of the colonies during the American Revolution. Through the 1783 Treaty of Paris, signed at the end of The Revolution, Florida was returned to Spanish control beginning what is known as the Second Spanish Period (1783-1821).
In 1821, in accordance with the Treaty of Adams-Onis (also called the Transcontinental Treaty), Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for a settlement of land claims. General Andrew Jackson, who would later become the seventh President of the United States, was subsequently named military governor for the state.
12,000 B.C. – Native Americans occupy Florida
15th Century – Africans arrive with Spaniards
1513 – Juan Ponce de León’s First Voyage (Spanish)
1517 – Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Charlotte Harbor (Spanish)
1519 – Alonzo Álvarez de Pineda, along entire Gulf Coast (Spanish)
1521 - Juan Ponce de León Second Voyage (Spanish)
1528 – Pánfilo de Narváez, near St. Petersburg (Spanish)
1539 – Hernando de Soto (Spanish)
1559 - Tristán de Luna, Pensacola (Spanish)
1562 – Jean Ribault, Beaufort, South Carolina and near Jacksonville (French)
1564 – Rene de Laudonniére, Ft. Caroline and near Jacksonville (French)
1565 – Pedro Menéndez de Aviles founded St. Augustine (Spanish)
1573 – Spanish Missions begun
1587 – Roanoke “Lost Colony”, Virginia (British)
1607 – Jamestown, Virginia (British)
1620 – Plymouth and the Pilgrims, Massachusetts (British)
1630 – Massachusetts Bay (Puritans)
1687 – The first runaway slaves from northern plantations are granted asylum in St. Augustine
1698 – Spaniards re-establish Pensacola
1704 – Spanish Mission chain destroyed
1738 – Fort Mose, near St. Augustine
1763 – Florida to England
1783 – Florida to Spain
1818 – First Seminole War
1821 – Florida to United States
On a white field emblazoned with a red X and the state seal, Florida's flag represents the land of sunshine, flowers, palm trees, rivers and lakes. The seal features a brilliant sun, a cabbage palmetto tree, a steamboat sailing and a Native American Seminole woman scattering flowers. Flag adopted 1899
FLORIDA'S STATE FLAG
FLORIDA'S STATE BIRD
FLORIDA'S STATE FLOWER
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YOU ARE LISTENING TO JOSIE BILLIE OF THE SEMINOLE TRIBE, RECORDED BY THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE IN 1972
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