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History Timeline

  • 1513 The Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon set foot near what is now St. Augustine. He claims the territory for Spain which he names "La Florida".
  • 1513 - 1560 Several Spanish explorations fail to yield expected gold and silver.
  • 1564 French settlers build Fort Caroline near St. Johns River.
  • 1565 Spain sends an armada to build a settlement called St. Augustine and drive out the French. This fort became the first permanent European settlement in the New World that still exists today.
  • 1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain enters a harbor which he calls San Augustin on August 28; he captures Fort Caroline which becomes San Mateo, a Spanish outpost. He also massacres the shipwrecked French forces of Admiral Jean Ribault on Anastasia Island. San Augustin will become known as St. Augustine, and will be settled continuously after Menendez leaves part of his troops there before his foray on Fort Caroline.
  • 1565 - 1700 The Spanish colonize much of Florida.
  • 1700s Creek Indians migrate from Georgia and Alabama to Florida where later they and all Florida Indians collectively become known as the Seminoles - the "Unconquered / Free People".
  • 1702-1704 The British raid Spanish settlements including a 52-day siege of St. Augustine. The town is captured but the fort is not. Governor James Moore of Carolina invades middle Florida forcing the Spaniards and Christianized Indians to abandon the Apalachee missions. Within a few years, the mission era of Florida comes to an end.
  • 1719 The French capture Pensacola; however, as a result of an alliance with Spain, in order to stave off English conquests, it is soon returned to the Spanish. The French also occupy the Gulf Coast west of Pensacola.
  • 1740 The British General James Oglethorpe invades Florida from Georgia, seizing outlying forts. He lays siege to St. Augustine for 27 days until a lack of fresh water and provisions, plus the July sun and hordes of insects, cause him to turn away. He does free the 1500 soldiers and townspeople crowded in the Castillo de San Marcos
  • 1763 Spain cedes Florida to England in exchange for Havana, Cuba as part of a bargain in the settlement of the Seven Years' War. The east and west territories of Florida become the 14th and 15th British colonies in the Americas.
  • 1776 American Revolution.
  • 1784 Spain regains control of Florida from England as part of a peace treaty that ended the American Revolution.
  • 1817-1818 First Seminole War.
  • 1821 The United States acquires Florida from Spain as part of a deal to cancel $5 million in debts owed by the Spanish. Florida becomes a territory of the United States.
  • 1824 Newly founded town of Tallahassee is declared the capital of the Florida territory. Tallahassee was chosen because it was halfway between existing governmental centers of Pensacola and St. Augustine.
  • 1835-1842 The second Seminole War is waged.
  • 1836 First railroads begin to operate in Florida.
  • March 3, 1845 Florida becomes the 27th state to join the United States of America.
  • 1855-1858 The third Seminole War. Only a few hundred Seminoles survive by hiding in the Everglades.
  • 1861 Florida secedes from the Union to join the Confederacy in the US Civil War.
  • 1861-1865 Florida furnishes salt beef, and bacon to the armies of the Confederacy. The voting population of Florida is 14,374 in 1860 which gives greater significance to the fact that more than 16,000 Floridians serve in the Civil War 15,000 in the Confederate army and 1,290 in the Union forces. Of those in.the Confederate armies, 6,700 serve for the entire war or until disabled or killed. Florida troops are represented in all principal battles and more than 1,000 are killed in action. At least 5,000 Florida soldiers are dead by the spring of 1865.
  • 1864 The Confederates defeat the Union army at Olustee and save the interior supply lines from Florida. This confines the Union troops, to the coast.
  • 1865 Home Guards and Cadets from the West Florida Seminary save Tallahassee from capture by turning back invading Federal troops at the Battle of Natural Bridge. The war ends with Tallahassee as the only Confederate state capital east of Mississippi to escape being captured. Federal troops do occupy Tallahassee on May 10 and the American flag once more flies over the Capitol on May 20. A Constitutional Convention convenes on October 25. It annuls the Ordinance of Secession and decrees the end of slavery; however, the right to vote is restricted to "free" white male persons of 21 years old or older.
  • 1865 Civil War ends.
  • 1880 Large scale commercial agriculture, cattle-raising and industries such as cigar manufacturing take root. Florida's population reaches an estimated 270,000.
  • 1880-1912 Great railroad-building era. Transportation for goods and people including tourists improves.
  • 1920-1926 Great land boom and rapid population expansion. Population reaches one million.
  • 1930s Florida becomes America's largest citrus producer.
  • 1945 Two million people live in Florida. An estimated three million tourists visit Florida as large-scale tourism begins.
  • 1947 President Truman opens Everglades National Park
  • July 20, 1969 Spacecraft Apollo 11, launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, lands on the moon.
  • 1971 Walt Disney World opens near Orlando to become Florida's first major theme park.
  • 1971 Apollo 14 plagued with many troubling incidents, touches down on the Moon 108 hours after blast-off from the Kennedy Space Center. Capt. Alan B. Shepard is in command. President Richard M. Nixon orders a halt to the Cross Florida Barge Canal after $50 million has been spent on the 107-mile structure. Amtrak begins operation of service into Orlando. Apollo 15 astronauts explore the Moon for three days in a record-breaking flight of 12 days originating from Kennedy Space Center.
  • 1972 Apollo 16, despite a guidance malfunction, lands on the Moon for three days of exploration and returns to Earth without further incident. Tropical storm Agnes roars out of the south Atlantic to cause heavy damage along the eastern seaboard northward from Miami. Paula Hawkins becomes the first woman elected to the Florida Public Service Commission.
  • 1993 Janet Reno, State Attorney for Dade County (Miami) for 15 years named Attorney General of the U.S. by President Bill Clinton, the first woman to so serve in U.S. history. Although a pro-choice Democrat she managed to win reelection four times in a conservative stronghold, the last time without opposition.
  • 1998 Over 40 million tourists visit Florida each year - more than 2 1/2 times its resident population!

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