The story of the colonization of Florida differs significantly from that of the thirteen colonies that eventually fought the American War for Independence. As English colonies, East and West Florida were too underdeveloped, too underpopulated, and too dependent on Great Britain to break away in 1776. In 1783, as stipulated by the Treaty of Paris, Florida reverted to Spanish control, and it did not become a territory of the United States until 1821. Early Florida The first Floridians arrived around 10,000 b.c.e. They were hunter-gatherers whose diet consisted of small animals, plants, nuts, and shellfish. By the time they encountered Europeans, they had developed a number of diverse, complex societies. On the eve of colonization, Florida’s Native Americans began to construct temple mounds, evidently a practice adopted from other southeastern Native Americans. They also grew their food and had established complex trading networks with local and far-off native communities. Some large, centralized cultures existed, but these seem to have been more common elsewhere in the Southeast. Spanish interest in Florida began in 1513, when Juan Ponce de Le³n, a veteran of the Reconquista and the campaigns on Hispaniola and governor of the fledging colony of Puerto Rico, explored along the coast. Incidentally, the name Florida, bestowed by Ponce de Le³n, refers to the day he came ashore between St. Augustine and the St. Johns River, the Feast of Flowers at Easter time. In the sixteenth century, Spanish Florida encompassed the interior region between present-day Tampico, Mexico, and Philadelphia. Ponce de Le³n encountered hostile Native Americans wherever he went. In 1521, he returned to Florida to plant a colony after subduing Caribs in the lower Antilles, only to be wounded by natives. He returned to Cuba, where he died. Pnfilo de Narvez’s 1528 expedition to Florida fared even worse. He left Santo Domingo with 600 men and searched for gold rumored to be near Tampa Bay and present-day Tallahassee, but found nothing. Working without tools (their original ships were lost), they constructed makeshift vessels. All of the boats sank in a storm off the Texas coast, and the eighty survivors began the long overland trek to Mexico. Eight years later, four men, including Cabeza de Vaca, the treasurer of the expedition, reached Mexico City. Hernando de Soto’s entrada, a treasure-seeking expedition of 600 men lasting from 1539 to 1542, was also a failure. By the 1540s, the Spanish had failed to find mineral wealth in Florida and had run afoul of the region’s Native Americans, who numbered around 350,000 during the early years of Spanish colonization. Consequently, the Spanish had basically given up ever turning a profit on Florida, though they had tentative plans to create a few military outposts. French interest in the area prodded the Spanish to speed up these plans. In 1562, Jean Ribaut led a group of Huguenots (French Protestants) to the St. Johns River, where they traded peacefully before moving north to Port Royal (now in South Carolina) to plant a colony. Ribaut returned to France to resupply, and the Spanish hurried their efforts to plant their own colony and destroy that of the French. Under Pedro Menndez de Avils, a Spanish fleet left from Cadiz at around the same Ribaut left France. Menndez de Avils founded St. Augustine in 1565 and took off shortly thereafter. Finding Fort Caroline poorly defended, he marched overland and took it easily, killing 138 Frenchmen. He later found the remainder of the French party and killed most of them, although he did spare ten who turned out to be Catholic. The French gave up any hope of establishing colonies in Florida, and the Spanish reinforced the fortress at St. Augustine. This fortification, Castillo San Marcos, still stands today and was never taken in battle, although Sir Francis Drake did destroy the entire town around it in 1586. In the wake of English attacks, the Spanish decided to maintain a minimal military presence and expand missionary activity among the Native Americans. Mission Life The main feature of colonial life in Florida under the Spanish was the mission. These were multipurpose frontier institutions, which served both secular and religious functions. The missions’ goal was to persuade the Native Americans to accept Catholicism and allegiance to the king of Spain. The mission system in Florida reached its peak in the 1630s, when forty-four Franciscan missions had been planted among a population of Native Americans that by then numbered less than 50,000. After 1650, the mission system declined slowly. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine in northeastern Florida is the oldest city in the United States. The parish, also the oldest, was established in 1594; the present cathedral, built in the Spanish Mission style, dates to 1797. (Library of Congress, LC-D4-13352) The most successful missions were those along the Atlantic Coast between present-day Savannah and St. Augustine and those established across northern Florida in a line extending west into the region now known as the Panhandle. Soldiers and missionaries were the main Spanish populations in Florida, and there were fewer European settlers than in other American colonies. Spanish Florida was divided into four mission districts: Guale, Timucua, Apalachee, and Apalachicola. Florida’s native peoples lived in towns centered around circular public spaces, which occasionally functioned as ball courts. Most towns included a number of round buildings with domed roofs. Although early missionary efforts usually consisted of a short speech, the erection of a cross, and the priest moving on to another community, later missionaries stayed in the villages, supervising the construction of churches and friaries. By the 1670s, the missions in the Apalachee district (near present-day Tallahassee) were the most populous and prosperous in Florida. At their height, these missions were home to 8,000 baptized Native Americans, or about three-quarters of the Christian natives in Florida. The newer missions in Apalachicola, farther to the west, were failing, however, and soon the other mission provinces would be subject to a new threat: English settlers. Ten reforms to fix Florida’s property insurance marketplace … Mapq8Florida’s 511 Traveler Information System Home Mapq8ritz-carlton residences at sunny isles beach by arquitectonica Mapq8

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