Florida on a map from 1591
Florida was discovered by Juan Ponce de León on April 2, 1513 . According to a legend, he was looking for the Fountain of Eternal Youth. Later, other explorers explored the area. These included Pánfilo de Narváez – in 1528 – and Hernando de Soto between 1539 and 1542.
After that, many others explored Florida further. In 1556, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St-Augustine, the oldest surviving permanent settlement in the US founded by European settlers. They also built the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest stone fortress in the US there.
According to watchtutorials, French exploration in the area began in 1562, by the Huguenots under Captain Jean Ribault, an officer of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Ribault’s expedition set out from France and briefly led to the colony of French Florida. He explored the St. Johns River north of St. Augustine.
In 1607 the English settled in Virginia. As a result, the Spaniards were driven to the southeast. Then the English moved further south and finally had to give up the Spaniards in 1763. The English divided Florida into East and West Florida.
In 1783 the area fell back to the Spanish, but in 1819 the Spaniards were forced to give Florida to the US by the Adams-Onís Treaty. That was because Andrew Jackson had invaded Florida in 1818. There was opposition to this in the US Congress. Senator John Randolph of Virginia called it a land of mud, mosquitoes, frogs and alligators. After the transfer, many whites came to live in Florida, who got into trouble with the Indians. This started the Seminole War, which ran from 1835 to 1842lasted. In 1845 Florida became the 27th state of the US Florida territory originally ran as far as the Mississippi but the western part was assigned to the states of Alabama and Mississippi.
Florida belonged to the south during the Civil War. Only the Florida Keys remained in the hands of the Northern States, as did the naval base in Key West and Fort Jefferson where a military hospital was set up. An attempt by the Union army to capture the state and free the slaves failed on February 20, 1864, when General Joseph Finegan defeated the Northerners at the Battle of Olustee. After that, the state remained in the hands of the Confederacy until the end of the Civil War.
Rise of tourism
Arrival of the first train in Key West in 1912.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Henry Flagler came to live in the state. He and his associate John D. Rockefeller had become rich through their company Standard Oil. He would personally leave a big mark on the state. In St. Augustine he built the Ponce de Leon Hotel and to make the state more accessible he bought existing railroads along the East Coast, modernized them and built the Florida East Coast Railway from Jacksonville to Miami. Miami was a small town at the time, but Flagler had the vision to create a new Riviera and built hotels along the coast. Over time, the village would grow into a metropolis. He eventually extended the railroad over bridges to the Florida Keys, called the Overseas Railroad. This last stretch of railway was partly destroyed in a hurricane in 1935 but many of the bridges would later be used as foundations for the Overseas Highway.
Florida became a prosperous state in the early 20th century . The 1920s saw a real estate boom that would come to be known as the Florida land boom. Also, the American film industry had plans to move to Florida because of the daylight. Two hurricanes and the crisis of the 1930s brought this boom to an end and the film industry chose Californian Hollywood. The economy would not recover from this until the Second World War.
After the war
After the war, the state became a favorite place for retirees because of its pleasant climate. In 1962, as part of the space race with the Soviet Union, the Kennedy Space Center was established. First with the name Launch Operations Center. From here the Apollo 11 was launched in 1969, which would put the first man on the moon.
Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, after which the country became communist. This led to a large flow of refugees, most of whom settled in the Miami area. More waves of Cuban refugees would later follow, creating a large Cuban community in Miami.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Miami Drug War was fought between the Medellín Cartel, several smaller gangs and the American justice system. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused massive damage in Florida. Many people died and 160,000 people became homeless.
At the end of the 2000 US presidential election, all eyes were on Florida as the result was contested in a number of counties. This was partly due to unclear ballot papers and confusion in the counts. After multiple lawsuits, George W. Bush was declared the winner.
In March 2022, Florida passed House Bill 1557, called the Parental Rights in Education Act, and nicknamed the Don’t Say Gay Act. This prohibits teaching in primary schools about sexual orientation or gender identity to children up to and including the third grade (which is approximately up to and including the age of 9 years), as well as such lessons in higher grades if they are not age-appropriate or The development of the pupils. The Disney theme park, which objected to the law, was punished by parliament by revoking privileges that the company had enjoyed since its establishment in Florida , seeReedy Creek Improvement District.