It was probably inevitable — Manifest Destiny, and all that — but on this date in 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the Union.
The first Europeans to set foot in Florida were the Conquistadors, led by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. It is a myth that he was looking for the famed Fountain of Youth.
Of course, long before the Spanish got to Florida, there were aboriginal peoples living all along the peninsula. According to the WikiWackyWoo:
By the 16th century, the earliest time for which there is a historical record, major Native American groups included the Apalachee (of the Florida Panhandle), the Timucua (of northern and central Florida), the Ais (of the central Atlantic coast), the Tocobaga (of the Tampa Bay area), the Calusa (of southwest Florida) and the Tequesta (of the southeastern coast).
The Spanish founded St. Augustine in 1565, making it the oldest continually inhabited city in the U.S. But, St. Augustine has another distinction, so says the Wiki:
Florida attracted numerous Africans and African Americans from adjacent
British colonies in North America who sought freedom from slavery. The
Spanish Crown gave them freedom, and those freedmen settled north of St. Augustine in Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black settlement of its kind in what became the United States.
In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War. It was part of a large expansion of British territory following the country’s victory in the Seven Years’ War. Almost the entire Spanish population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba. The British soon constructed the King’s Road connecting St. Augustine to Georgia. The road crossed the St. Johns River at a narrow point, which the Seminole called Wacca Pilatka and the British named “Cow Ford”, both names ostensibly reflecting the fact that cattle were brought across the river there.
However, England lost Florida back to the Spanish after they lost the Revolutionary War to the insurgent ‘Merkins.
In 1810, parts of West Florida were annexed by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed Territory of Orleans. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied.
Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, and offering havens for runaway slaves. 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. The United States now effectively controlled East Florida. Control was necessary according to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams
because Florida had become “a derelict open to the occupancy of every
enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other
earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them.”.
Florida had become a burden to Spain, which could not afford to send
settlers or garrisons. Madrid therefore decided to cede the territory to
the United States through the Adams-Onís Treaty, which took effect in 1821. President James Monroe was authorized on March 3, 1821 to take possession of East Florida and West Florida for the United States and provide for initial governance. Andrew Jackson
served as military governor of the newly acquired territory, but only
for a brief period. On March 30, 1822, the United States merged East Florida and part of West Florida into the Florida Territory.
Florida was admitted to the Union as a Slave State on this day in 1845.
I’ve lived in Florida for the past 10.5 years and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t like it all that much.
South Florida is hundreds of miles of continuous suburbia; single family homes and gated communities, between strip malls and gas stations, only interrupted by larger malls, condo complexes, and man-made drainage canals to keep The Everglades at bay. Not to mention Florida Man. And, the never-ending corruption. And, the stifling heat and oppresive humidity.
I agree with Bugs Bunny: