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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Florida

State History

Native Americans

People have inhabited the land of Florida for thousands of years. When Europeans first arrived, Native American tribes lived throughout the land. Some of these tribes included the Apalachee in the Florida panhandle, the Calusa in the south, the Mayaimi who lived around Lake Okeechobee, and the Tocobaga who lived in the middle of the state. Many of these original tribes died out due to diseases brought by the Europeans.


The Space Shuttle takes off from Cape Canaveral
Space Shuttle Discovery from NASA

Europeans Arrive

The first European to visit Florida was Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon who arrived in 1513. He was searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth. He returned again in 1521 with around 200 settlers hoping to establish a colony. However, he was attacked by the local natives and died later from a wound in his leg. Other Spanish explorers followed hoping to discover gold in the region including Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539.

Early Settlers

The first European settlement in Florida was established by French Protestants in 1564. They were led by French explorer Rene de Laudonniere and built Fort Caroline near current day Jacksonville. A year later, in 1565, the Spanish built a fort at St. Augustine. St. Augustine is the oldest permanent settlement in the United States. From there, Catholic priests began to build missions throughout Florida.

Britain and Spain

The Spanish ruled Florida up until 1763. After the Spanish lost the Seven Years' War to the British, they gave up control of Florida. The British ruled the land for the next 20 years until the end of the American Revolution in 1783. At that time Spain regained control of Florida as a result of the Treaty of Paris.


The city of Miami skyline
Miami skyline by Marc Averette

Seminole Wars

In the 1800s, the Seminole Indians of Florida fought a number of wars with the United States Army. The First Seminole War took place in 1817 when Andrew Jackson led an invasion into Florida against the Seminoles. The invasion was partly in response to the Seminoles helping runaway slaves escape from their owners. After this invasion the United States took control of part of Florida.

The Second Seminole War was fought from 1835 to 1842 and the Third Seminole War from 1855 to 1858. These wars were fought because the Seminole did not want to give up their lands and move to Indian Territory.

Becoming a State

The United States took control of Florida from Spain as part of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. In 1821, the Territory of Florida was established and Andrew Jackson became the first governor of Florida. Florida's population grew over the next several years and soon it was large enough to become a state. However, slavery was allowed in Florida and many northern states did not want another slave state to join the Union. As part of a compromise, Iowa was admitted as a free state at the same time and, on March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state.

Civil War

When Abraham Lincoln became president in 1861, Florida seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Florida served as a supply route for the Confederate Army. Although there were few major battles in Florida, there were many smaller skirmishes as the Union attempted to blockade the state to prevent supplies from reaching the South. The only major battle was the Battle of Olustee fought in 1864. After losing the Civil War, Florida was readmitted into the Union in 1868.


Magic Kingdom at Disney World
Cinderella's Castle by ShajiA

Timeline More US State History:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
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Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
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New Mexico
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North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming


Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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