Florida is a Southern state in the United States. It is known as the Sunshine State. "Florida" is a Spanish adjective which means "flowery". It was discovered by Spanish explorers during the Easter season, which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish. The U.S. Postal abbreviation is FL.
Florida was named by Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida (Spanish for "Flowery Easter," referring to the Easter season).
Archaeological research indicates that Florida had been inhabited for thousands of years before any European settlements. Of the many indigenous peoples, the largest known were the Ais, the Apalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago tribes. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his discovery of the land on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida, a Spanish term for the Easter season (Juan Ponce de León may not have been the first European to reach Florida; according to one report, at least one indigenous tribesman who he encountered in Florida in 1513 spoke Spanish. From that date forward, the land became known as "La Florida" , although from 1630 until the 19th century Tegesta (after the Tequesta tribe) was the name of choice for the Florida peninsula following publication of a map by the Dutch cartographer Hessel Gerritsz in Joannes de Laet′s History of the New World.
Over the following century, both the Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano as the first European settlement in the continental United States, but it had become abandoned by 1561 and would not be reinhabited until the 1690s. French Huguenots founded Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville in 1564, but the fort was conquered by forces from the new Spanish colony of St. Augustine the following year. After Huguenot leader Jean Ribault had learned of the new Spanish threat, he launched an expedition to sack the Spanish settlement; en route, however, severe storms at sea waylaid the expedition, which consisted of most of the colony′s men, allowing St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés time to march his men over land and conquer Fort Caroline. Most of the Huguenots were slaughtered, and Menéndez de Avilés marched south and captured the survivors of the wrecked French fleet, ordering all but a few Catholics executed beside a river subsequently called Matanzas (Spanish for ′killings′). The Spanish never had a firm hold on Florida, and maintained tenuous control over the region by converting the local tribes, briefly with Jesuits and later with Franciscan friars. The local leaders (caciques) demonstrated their loyalty to the Spanish by converting to Roman Catholicism and welcoming the Franciscan priests into their villages.
The area of Spanish Florida diminished with the establishment of English colonies to the north and French colonies to the west. The English weakened Spanish power in the area by supplying their Creek Indian allies with firearms and urging them to raid the Timucuan and Apalachee client-tribes of the Spanish. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times, while the citizens hid behind the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.
The Spanish, meanwhile, encouraged slaves to flee the English-held Carolinas and come to Florida, where they were converted to Roman Catholicism and given freedom. They settled in a buffer community north of St. Augustine, called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first completely black settlement in what would become the United States.
Great Britain gained control of Florida diplomatically in 1763 through the Peace of Paris. The British divided the colony into East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola. Britain tried to develop the Floridas through the importation of immigrants for labor, including some from Minorca and Greece, but this project ultimately failed. Spain regained the Floridas after Britain′s defeat by the American colonies and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, continuing the division into East and West Florida. They offered land grants to anyone who settled in the colonies, and many Americans moved to them.
After settler attacks on Indian towns, Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, purportedly at the behest of the Spanish. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817 – 1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. Following the war, the United States effectively controlled East Florida. In 1819, by terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas and $5 million.
As settlement increased, pressure grew on the United States government to remove the Indians from their lands in Florida. To the chagrin of Georgia landowners, the Seminoles harbored and integrated runaway blacks, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the United States government signed the Treaty of Payne′s Landing with some of the Seminole chiefs, promising them lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida voluntarily. Many of the Seminoles left at this time, while those who remained prepared to defend their claims to the land. White settlers pressured the government to remove all of the Indians, by force if necessary, and in 1835, the U.S. Army arrived to enforce the treaty.
The Second Seminole War began at the end of 1835 with the Dade Massacre, when Seminoles ambushed Army troops marching from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to reinforce Fort King (Ocala), killing or mortally wounding all but one of the 108 troops. Between 900 and 1,500 Seminole Indian warriors effectively employed hit and run guerrilla tactics against United States Army troops for seven years. Osceola, a charismatic young war leader, came to symbolize the war and the Seminoles after he was arrested at truce negotiations in 1837 and died in prison less than a year later. The war dragged on until 1842. The U.S. government is estimated to have spent between US$20 million and US$40 million on the war, at the time an astronomical sum. Even after three bloody wars, the U.S. failed to force all of the Seminole Indians in Florida to the West. Though most of the Seminoles were forcibly exiled to Creek lands west of the Mississippi, hundreds, including Seminole leader Aripeka (Sam Jones), remained in the Everglades and refused to leave the native homeland of their ancestors. Their descendants remain there to this day.
On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. Its population grew slowly. White settlers continued to encroach on lands used by the Seminoles, and the United States government resolved to make another effort to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The Third Seminole War lasted from 1855 to 1858, and resulted in the removal of most of the remaining Seminoles. White settlers began to establish cotton plantations in Florida, which required numerous laborers. By 1860 Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1000 free people of color before the Civil War.
On January 10, 1861, before the formal declaration of war, Florida seceded from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida′s congressional representation was restored. After Reconstruction, white Democrats succeeded in regaining power in the state legislature. In 1885 they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites over the next several years. Provisions included poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency requirements. Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation to protect their suffrage.
Until the mid-twentieth century, Florida was the least populous Southern state. In 1900 its population was only 528,542, of whom nearly 44 percent were African American. The boll weevil devastated cotton crops, and early 20th century lynchings and racial violence caused a record number of African Americans to leave the state in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern industrial cities. Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left for better opportunities. National economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development. The stock market crash and Great Depression brought that period to a halt.
Florida′s economy did not fully recover until the buildup for World War II. The climate, tempered by the growing availability of air conditioning, and low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased the population after the war. In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy. Today, with an estimated population of more than 18 million, Florida is the most populous state in the Southeastern United States, the second most populous state in the South behind Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States. The Census Bureau estimates that "Florida, now the fourth most populous state, would edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011"
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