Brief History of Florida Abridged
We dive into the brief history of Florida, in a nutshell.
The Florida Principles
The first people arrived in Florida before 10,000 BC They were hunters and gatherers. At the time the world was in the grip of an ice age and huge animals like mastodons roamed what is now Florida.
After the end of the ice age shellfish were plentiful and by 2000 BC people in Florida were making pottery. After 1500 BC they also built burial mounds.
The first European to arrive in Florida was a Spaniard, Ponce de León in 1513. He named the Florida peninsula after the Spanish festival of flowers. In 1521 Ponce de León returned to Florida with a group of settlers. However, the first colony was abandoned due to the hostility of the natives.
In 1562 the French landed in Florida. In 1564 a group of French people, most of them Protestants, settled in a place called Fort Caroline. However, the Spanish massacred the French, except Catholic women, children and men, and renamed the settlement San Mateo.
However, the French took revenge. They landed and killed the Spanish soldiers. Meanwhile, in 1565 a Spaniard named Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded a small settlement in San Agustín. It was the first permanent European settlement in Florida.
However, the Englishman Francis Drake attacked St. Augustine in 1586. Meanwhile, the native population was devastated by European diseases.
Florida did not have gold and silver like the other Spanish colonies, but it was strategically important. In 1740 the British attacked Florida but failed to capture a fort, Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.
Then in 1763, as part of a peace treaty ending the Seven Years’ War, Spain gave Florida to Great Britain. However, at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Great Britain agreed to return Florida to Spain.
19th century in Florida
In 1817-1818 the United States waged the first Seminole War against the Seminole Indians. At that time, US troops entered Spanish territory. Finally, in 1821, Spain agreed to cede Florida to the United States in exchange for the cancellation of some debts. In 1824 the newly founded city of Tallahassee became the capital of Florida.
The number of white settlers in Florida steadily increased and they pressured the United States government to remove the Indians from their land. In 1832 the United States government signed the Payne’s Landing Treaty with certain Seminole chiefs offering them land elsewhere if they agreed to leave Florida.
However, many Seminoles refused to go, and the government resorted to force. The Second Seminole War was fought between 1835 and 1842 and almost all Seminoles were forced to leave Florida.
Florida became the 27th state of the United States on March 3, 1845. However, on January 10, 1861, Florida relinquished the union. Then followed the civil war. The Battle of Olustee was fought in Florida on February 20, 1864. However, the Civil War ended in 1865.
In the late 19th century, Florida developed rapidly. Its population grew and railways were built. The citrus industry also grew, although a freeze in 1894-95 nearly wiped it out.
In 1870 Florida’s population was less than 188,000, but by 1900 it had grown to more than 528,000. Meanwhile, the city of Miami was incorporated in 1896.
During the early years of the 20th century, Florida’s population continued to grow rapidly. In 1930 it was close to 1.5 million. However, in 1926 Miami was hit by a hurricane. Another hurricane hit Florida in 1928. Then, like the rest of the US, Florida suffered from the depression of the 1930s.
However, after World War II, Florida grew and tourists flocked to the state. After a revolution in Cuba in 1959, many Cubans fled to Florida. In the 1980s, many Haitians arrived. In 1980, Florida’s population was approaching 10 million and growing by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, Florida’s economy soared.
Today, tourism, banking, and phosphate mining are major industries in Florida. In 2017 the population of Florida was 21 million.
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