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Free Traveling Guides » States » Florida

History of Florida

Florida, a large peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean on its east and the Gulf of Mexico on its west, is situated in the southeastern region of the United States. The largest indigenous tribes, which inhabited the area thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans, included the Ais, the Timucua, the Tocobago, the Apalachee, and the Calusa tribes. Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish conquistador, discovered the land on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida (Easter season). Since then, the land became known as “La Florida”. The first European settlement in the continental United States was the Spanish Pensacola, established by Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano in 1559. Fort Caroline was established in present-day Jacksonville in 1564 by French Huguenots.

Soon after the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west, the area of Spanish Florida diminished completely. Control of Florida was gained by Great Britain in 1763, diplomatically through the Peace of Paris. Thereafter, the colony was split into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. After Britain was defeated by the American colonies, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1783, and the East and West Florida were regained by Spain. However, after the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819, Florida was ceded to the United States in exchange for the American repudiation of any claims on Texas and $5 million.

On March 3, 1845, Florida was admitted to the Union as the 27th state of the United States of America. However, Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861 and became a founding member of the Confederate States of America just before the formal outbreak of the Civil War. The Congressional representation of Florida was restored after the war, on June 25, 1868. Florida was the least populous Southern state until the mid-twentieth century. However, migration from the Northeast and the Rust Belt led to a considerable increase in the population of the state. Sudden elevation in the profile combined with economic prosperity in Florida led to the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The intense land development triggered by the land boom was all brought to a halt by the Great Depression.

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