The New International Encyclopædia/Florida

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FLOR′IDA (Sp., flowery, so called by Ponce de Leon, either from his discovery of it on Easter Sunday, Sp. Pascua florida, Pascua de flores, flowery Easter, or, less probably, on account of the abundance of flowers which he saw). Known both as the ‘Everglade State’ and as the ‘Peninsula State.’ The southernmost State of the American Union, situated between latitudes 24° 30′ and 31° N. and longitudes 79° 48′ and 87° 38′ W. It is bounded on the north by Alabama and Georgia, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Strait of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, and on the west by the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama, the extreme westward boundary being defined by the Perdido River. The greatest length from north to south is about 450 miles, and the extreme width of the northern or continental portion is nearly 400 miles. The peninsular extension has a length of 375 miles, with an average width of 95 miles. Florida ranks second in size among the States east of the Mississippi River; its total area is 58,680 square miles, of which 4440 square miles are occupied by lakes and rivers.

Surface and Hydrography. The coastal lands are low, monotonously level, and often marshy. The grassy Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp cover a large portion of the peninsula south of Lake Okeechobee, and there are large areas of swampland in the northern part, especially along the lower course of the Apalachicola River, and west of Saint Mary's River where the Okefinokee Swamp extends just south of the Georgia State line. Toward the interior of the peninsula the surface rises very gradually to an altitude of more than 100 feet, the central ridge in places reaching nearly 300 feet. Western Florida resembles southern Alabama in its surface features and is generally hilly and well wooded. The Florida Keys, stretching in a curved line 200 miles long from Biscayne Bay southwestward into the Gulf, are remarkable examples of the work of coral organisms. They form a continuous reef, the upper portions of which have been extended both vertically and laterally by accretions of sand and floating materials, and by the growth of vegetation until now there are many habitable islands. The surface of the keys is generally less than 10 feet above sea-level.

The coast-line of Florida measures about 470 miles on the Atlantic and 675 miles on the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern coast has remarkably even shore-lines, being much more regular than the western coast, which is broadly indented by the Gulf, and intersected by the inlets of several rivers. Almost the entire length of the eastern coast is bordered by sand reefs, inclosing long lagoons that tend to fill up with sand and organic matter and to become land. On this side there are few good harbors. Extensive improvements have been made at the mouths of Saint Mary's and Saint John's rivers, and these waters are now navigable by ocean vessels as far as Fernandina and Jacksonville; the harbors of Saint Augustine and Biscayne Bay are also used to some extent by merchant craft. There are numerous good harbors among the Florida Keys, the most important commercially being that at Key West. On the western side Charlotte Harbor and the bays of Tampa and Pensacola can be entered by large vessels. Florida has an extensive river system which includes over 1000 miles of navigable waters. Three large rivers, the Apalachicola, Suwanee, and Choctawhatchee, enter the State from the north and cross western Florida to the Gulf. Within the peninsula the most important streams are the Saint John's River on the Atlantic side, navigable for over 200 miles, the Withlacoochee and Peace rivers draining into the Gulf, and the Kissimmee, which flows southward through the middle of the peninsula, and is a feeder of Lake Okeechobee. Most of the lakes occur in central Florida, along the drainage basins of the Saint John's and Kissimmee rivers. Here there are a great number, including lakes George, Harris, Apopka, Tohopekaliga, Kissimmee, and Okeechobee. The last named, with an area of 1200 square miles, is the largest in the State.

NIE 1905 Florida.jpg


County Map
 County Seat.   Area in 

1890. 1900.

Alachua F 2  Gainesville 1,283   22,934   32,245 
Baker F 1  Macclenny 585   3,333  4,516
Bradford F 2  Starke 552   7,516 10,295
Brevard H 3  Titusville 2,409   3,401  5,158
Calhoun C 1  Blountstown 1,067   1,681  5,132
Citrus F 3  Inverness 612   2,394  5,391
Clay G 1  Greencove Springs  622   5,154  5,635
Columbia F 1  Lake City 792  12,877 17,094
Dade H 6  Miami 4,424     861  4,955
De Soto G 4  Arcadia 3,755   4,944  8,047
Duval G 1  Jacksonville 822  26,800 39,733
Escambia A 1  Pensacola 668  20,188 28,313
Franklin D 2  Apalachicola 731   3,308  4,890
Gadsden D 1  Quincy 500  11,894 15,294
Hamilton E 1  Jasper 508   8,507 11,881
Hernando F 3  Brooksville 475   2,476  3,638
Hillsboro F 4  Tampa 1,309  14,941 36,013
Holmes C 1  Westville 435   4,336  7,762
Jackson C 1  Marianna 963  17,544 23,377
Jefferson E 1  Monticello 593  15,757 16,195
Lafayette E 2  Mayo 1,202   3,686  4,987
Lake G 3  Tavares 1,128   8,034  7,467
Lee G 6  Myers 4,641   1,414  3,071
Leon D 1  Tallahassee 730  17,752 19,887
Levy F 2  Bronson 1,133   6,586  8,603
Liberty D 1  Bristol 725   1,452  2,956
Madison E 1  Madison 693  14,316 15,446
Manatee F 4  Braidentown 1,275   2,895  4,663
Marion F 2  Ocala 1,640  20,796 24,403
Monroe G 6  Keywest 1,125  18,786 18,006
Nassau G 1  Fernandina 645   8,294  9,654
Orange G 3  Orlando 1,315  12,584 11,374
Osceola G 4  Kissimmee 1,827   3,133  3,444
Pasco F 3  Dade City 750   4,249  6,054
Polk G 3  Bartow 1,967   7,905 12,472
Putnam G 2  Palatka 772  11,186 11,641
St. John G 2  Saint Augustine 960   8,712  9,165
Santa Rosa  A 1  Milton 1,528   7,961 10,293
Sumter F 3  Sumterville 599   5,363  6,187
Suwannee E 1  Liveoak 689  10,524 14,554
Taylor E 1  Perry 1,100   2,122  3,999
Volusia G 2  De Land 1,281   8,467 10,003
Wakulla D 1  Crawfordville 601   3,117  5,149
Walton B 1  De Funiak Springs 1,384   4,816  9,346
Washington  C 1  Vernon 1,425   6,426 10,154

Soil and Climate. Owing to the great length of coast-line in proportion to the area and to the low elevation, Florida possesses a climate of remarkable uniformity. The average extreme range of temperatures in central and southern Florida is included within the limits of 90° and 43° F. In northern Florida the thermometer falls at times considerably below 32° for brief periods. In summer the heat is less oppressive than in the Middle and North Atlantic States. The average annual temperatures at various localities in the State are as follows: Jacksonville, 69°; Pensacola, 68°; Sanford, 72°; Cedar Keys, 71°; Key West, 78°. The rainfall is generally heaviest on the Gulf Coast, Pensacola having an annual average of 67 inches, compared with 55 inches at Jacksonville. At Tarpon Springs the mean for the year reaches the high figure of 85 inches. With its equable and healthful climate Florida offers an attractive home for invalids, and has become a favorite winter resort of tourists.

Much of the soil is sandy, supporting only a stunted growth of vegetation. There is everywhere, however, a substratum of limestone, and when this approaches the surface it yields a fertile soil. Clay and loam lands are of limited extent. The warm, humid climate promotes a rapid and vigorous plant-growth, even where the land is not especially fertile.

Flora. The striking feature of the flora of Florida is the pine forests, which occupy the sandy soil of the north and gradually become thinner southward in the peninsula, where the pines are more or less mixed with palmettos, especially where the soil becomes moist. These forests are interrupted in the northern half of the peninsula by grassy plains and marshes, which become more frequent in the south, where they are replaced by the Everglades (q.v.). Many of the streams, especially the Saint John's River, are bordered or even choked with the water-hyacinth. Where the character of the soil is favorable, trees and smaller plants grow in profusion of species and, especially in the southern part, with tropical luxuriance. Some of the common species are magnolia, live oak, persimmon, sweet-gum, passion-flower, pitcher-plant, hibiscus, and wistaria. See Flora, under United States. For Fauna see paragraphs under America and United States.

Geology. Florida is an outgrowth of the southern coastal plain, and is of recent geological formation. The underlying strata are mostly limestones deposited during the Upper Eocene age. In the southern part of the peninsula the presence of fossil coral reefs indicates that the land has been built up by successive stages in a process similar to that now going on in the Florida Keys.

Mineral Resources. Phosphate rock, the most valuable of the State's mineral resources, occurs along a belt extending from Lake Okeechobee to near Tallahassee. Since the discovery of the deposits in 1888 an important mining industry has been developed. The output increasing steadily up to 1899, when the total was 706,677 long tons, valued at more than $2,500,000. In 1900 the production declined to 642,321 tons, owing to a decrease in the demand. Three grades of material are produced—hard rock, land pebble, and river pebble; the proportion of lime phosphate ranges from 50 per cent. in river pebble to over 80 per cent. in hard rock. Of the latter grade practically the entire output is exported to Europe, where it finds a ready market in spite of the competition of French and Algerian phosphates. The hard-rock and land-pebble deposits are worked either by sinking pits through the light overburden or by hydraulic mining. River pebble occurs in the basins of the Peace, Caloosahatchee, and Alafia rivers, but it is found only along the Peace in deposits of sufficient extent to warrant exploitation. Centrifugal pumps mounted on steam dredges are used for raising the material from the river-bed. Florida also produces most of the domestic supply of fuller's earth from deposits near Quincy. The output in 1900 was 11,813 short tons, valued at $70,565. There are no metallic mines in the State.

Fisheries. The long coast-line of the State gives the advantage of extensive adjacent fishing waters. And while the fisheries are not fully developed, they are more important than those of any other Gulf State. In 1897 6100 men were engaged in the industry, about four-fifths of them on the Gulf coast, and the product was valued at $1,100,000. Shad and mullet are the east coast product, while sponges constitute nearly one-third of the west coast product. Mullet and turtle are also caught in great numbers on the west coast. Key West is the centre of the sponge fisheries, and in 1897 102 vessels and 184 boats were engaged in this industry. Florida has a monopoly of the sponge fisheries, but returns from this source have fallen off, and the product is of a poorer quality than formerly.

Agriculture. The equable subtropical climate of Florida determines the nature of its products. Since the end of the Civil War the area of farm land has constantly increased, amounting in 1900 to 12.6 per cent. of the land area of the State, or 4,363,800 acres, of which 34.6 per cent. are improved. During the same period there has been, as a consequence of the change in the industrial system, a remarkable decrease in the average size of farms, the average in 1900—106.9 acres—being less than one-fourth that of 1860. There are twice as many farms operated by white as by colored farmers, and the average size tended by the latter is only 53 acres, as against 133.6 acres for those operated by white farmers. A style of contract is common among the negro farmers which makes classification of tenure difficult, but the census of 1900 reported 40.6 per cent. of the total number of negro farmers as being renters according to the cash-rent system, and 10.2 per cent. as following the share-rent system, the corresponding figures for white farmers being respectively 8.8 per cent. and 5.7 per cent. The negro farmers are centred largely in the cotton-growing counties, and the white landlord still in great part owns the farm implements and working animals used by the negro tenant; but the status of the negro farmer, as indicated by census comparisons, has improved, particularly during the last decade of the century.

Only a small portion of southern Florida, including the Everglades (q.v.) region, has as yet been brought under cultivation, but in the light of recent progress and investigation a considerable area is thought to be reclaimable. Along the east coast, in Brevard and Dade counties, over 81 per cent. of the pineapples of the State are grown, constituting a thriving industry, in which Florida enjoys a monopoly among the states. Hillsboro County and other west coast counties to the southward are becoming prominent in the production of oranges, containing in 1899 20.9 per cent. of all the orange-trees of the State, as against only 6.3 per cent. in 1889, while the production in the latter year amounted to 89.8 per cent. of the total for the State. Orange culture became prominent some decades ago in the central section of the state, and previous to the cold wave of the winter of 1894-95, which, with the frosts of 1899, killed about three-quarters of the orange-trees, the annual output approximated $5,000,000 in value. It was in fact the most valuable product of the state. Disastrous frosts are rare, however, and the orange-growing industry is rapidly reviving, the total number of trees in 1900 being 2,552,542, almost as great as in 1890, and amounting to a little less than one half the number of orange-trees in California. Cassava, egg plant, and other subtropical plants flourish in the central section, and tomatoes and various garden products are extensively grown for the early Northern markets. In the northern portion of the State the products are similar to those of the other Gulf States. In amount of acreage corn is in excess of any other crop, but the yield per acre is low. The acreage increased over 50 per cent. in the last decade of the century. Other cereals received but little attention, oats and rice being the only ones worthy of mention. From 1890 to 1900 the acreage of oats increased from 5410 to 31,467, and of rice from 1787 to 5410. Rivaling corn in value of product is cotton, over one-half of the acreage being devoted to the sea-island variety, the State ranking next to Georgia in the acreage devoted to this plant. The total production of cotton, however, is small compared with that of the other southern coast States, and there has been no tendency to increase for a number of years. Tobacco, beans, peas, and peanuts are extensively grown, the last being of greatest importance. The value of the peanut crop has exceeded $900,000 for a year; the area devoted to the nuts in 1899 was two and a half times that of 1889. The sweet potato crop is of about equal value. Peaches, pears, and other fruits of the temperate zone are successfully raised. Hay and sugar-cane are produced in various parts of the state. Besides the Everglades, there is much unreclaimed swamp and pine land scattered over the State, especially in the region south of Alabama. Some irrigation is practiced in connection with garden farming. In 1898 the public lands of the State—exclusive of swamp lands granted to the State—amounted to 1,757,000 acres. The State contains much excellent pasture land, especially in the central portion, and rapidly increasing numbers of cattle are raised. The decrease shown in the table in the number of dairy cows is only an apparent one, being due to a change in census methods. Horses, swine, and sheep are raised in considerable numbers. The following tables show the relative importance of the principal crops and farm animals, and the changes which occurred in the last census decade:

 YEARS  Corn,

1900  569,567   31,467   5,410  69,452 22,791 12,800  21,994   221,839 
1890 378,906  5,410 1,787 26,166 18,698  9,345  7,661 227,370

 YEARS   Dairy 
 Other neat 
 Horses   Mules   Sheep   Swine 

1900  78,830  534,038   40,572   13,562   102,709   464,277 
1890  113,388  370,176 31,807  9,624  98,275 374,241

Manufactures. Manufacturing has always held a minor place in the economic activities of the State, but recently it has made remarkable progress. The total annual product ($48,000,000) more than doubled during the last decade of the nineteenth century. The manufacture of cigars and cigarettes is of great importance. This is confined largely to the southern portion of Florida—particularly to Tampa and Key West—and is the outgrowth of the immigration of Cubans to these parts. A large part of the raw tobacco is imported from Cuba—the port of Tampa being exceeded in the year 1900 by New York alone in amount received from that island. The following table, taken from the United States Census Reports (1900), shows the relative value of the different manufactures and the changes during the last decade of the century:

INDUSTRIES  Year  Number of
Value of products,
including custom
 work and repairing 

Total for selected industries for State
1900 1,104  33,101  $32,059,830 
1890 431  10,980  14,905,966 

Increase 1890 to 1900 ...... 673  22,141  $17,153,864 
Per cent. of increase ...... 156.1  202.0  115.1 
Per cent. of total of all industries in State
1900 52.2  89.2  83.9 
1890 53.5  83.5  81.8 
Tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes
1900 128  6,461  10,891,286 
1890 86  5,273  8,123,220 
Printing and publishing
1900 100  406  603,410 
1890 86  468  567,808 
Cars and general shop construction and repairs
 by steam railroad companies
1900 13  958  1,112,245 
1890 10  280  354,043 
1900 117  555,394 
1890 23  86,137 
Lumber and timber products
1900 416  7,081  10,848,403 
1890 215  4,363  5,514,879 
Tar and turpentine
1900 425  17,937  7,794,101 
1890 15  484  191,859 
1900 15  141  254,991 
1890 16  69  68,020 

Forests and Forestry. The most important factor in the manufactures of the State is its extensive forest area, which yields nearly one-half of the value of the total manufactured product. The forests cover over two-thirds of the total land area, the long-leaved pine extending over about 6000 square miles. From the forests of pitch-pine, tar, turpentine, and rosin are produced, and these products have increased during the last decade from almost nothing to a large figure. (See Table.) From the live-oak forests timber for ship-building is secured. As will be seen, the lumber and timber products have doubled in value during the last decade. The forest resources are found mainly in the northwest portion of the State, and timber worked in the Florida mills.

Transportation and Commerce. Florida is well provided with means of communication, both by land and by water. In 1900 there were 3255 miles of railroad, most of which was constructed during the two preceding decades. In 1880 there were but 518 miles, while in 1890 there were 2489 miles. There are 21 lines now in operation, of which the three longest are the Florida Central and Peninsular, 689 miles; Savannah, Florida and Western, 618 miles; and the Florida East Coast, 484 miles. In 1897 and 1899 the Legislature provided for a Railroad Commission to fix and enforce rates, the courts to hold the rates thus imposed as prima facie reasonable. The validity and constitutionality of this State Commission have been fully established by the Florida Supreme Court, and it is now one of the most effective in the United States. In the natural means of communication Florida excels, its peninsular shape affording more coast-line than that of any other state. This advantage is supplemented by many navigable rivers and bays. The river and harbor facilities have recently been greatly improved as a result of the heavy Congressional appropriations for that purpose. Thus aided, the commercial development of the State advanced very rapidly during the last years of the nineteenth century. In 1899, 2840 vessels, aggregating 2,464,026 tons, cleared the ports of Florida. The places having the largest export trade were Pensacola, Tampa, and Jacksonville; other export centres are Fernandina, Key West, Punta Gorda, Carrabelle, Apalachicola, and Saint Augustine. Most of these export forest products and phosphate for both foreign and home markets. Pensacola has large foreign shipments of grain, cotton, and tobacco. Tampa and Key West have a large trade in cigars. Punta Gorda exports vegetables and fish, and Carrabelle large quantities of turpentine.

Finance. The receipts for the year ending December 31, 1900, amounted to $989,058, and the disbursements were $936,915. Only $190,800 of the $1,032,000 bonded debt of the State were in the hands of private individuals.

Banks. In October, 1900, there were 17 national banks in operation with an aggregate capital stock of $1,255,000; circulation outstanding, $642,000; deposits, $6,600,000; and reserve, $2,318,000. In June of the same Mar there were 23 State banks, with $4,643,000 resources, $742,000 capital, and $3,489,000 deposits. There was but one savings bank.

Population. The following is the population of Florida by decades: 1830, 34,730; 1840, 54,477; 1850, 87,445; 1860, 140,424; 1870, 187,748; 1880, 269,493; 1890, 391,422; 1900, 528,542—230,730 negroes.

The absolute increase from 1890 to 1900 was greater than for any previous decade. In 1900 the average number of persons to the square mile was 9.7. Cities exceeding 10,000 in population were: Jacksonville, 28,400; Pensacola, 17,700; Key West, 17,100; Tampa, 15,800. The foreign-born population numbered 23,832, most of whom were from Cuba and the West Indies. The tendency to segregate in cities is slightly more marked than in the neighboring States. There are six places of over 4000 inhabitants, constituting 16.5 per cent. of the total population.

Religion. About one-half of the church members of Florida belong to the Methodist Church; more than two-thirds of the remainder are Baptists; other denominations represented are: Catholic, Presbyterian. Protestant Episcopal, Disciples of Christ, Congregational, and Lutheran. Of these the Catholics are the strongest.

Education. Education in Florida is in an unsatisfactory state. The average length of the school year generally falls under 100 days, which is true of but few other States. The average expenditure per capita of population is only one-half that for the United States as a whole, and less than one-third the average for the States, excluding those formerly holding slaves. There is a recent decrease in illiteracy attributable to the dying off of adults rather than to improvements in educational methods. In 1900 the illiterates ten years of age and over were about 22 per cent. of the total number of that age, a larger per cent. of illiteracy being shown in but eleven other States and Territories. The educational status is attributable to the presence of a large negro population, though the burden of negro education in itself is not so prominent a factor in the situation as is usually supposed. A process of transportation of students and consolidation of schools has resulted in a decrease in the actual number of schools, but the per cent. of attendance is slowly increasing for both whites and blacks. There are about thirty public and private secondary schools in the State, and two public and three private normal schools. Other higher State institutions of learning are as follows: Agricultural College at Lake City, East Florida Seminary and Military Institute at Gainesville, West Florida Seminary at Tallahassee, and South Florida Military and Educational Institute at Bartow. There are also the following private and denominational colleges: John B. Stetson University at De Land, one of the institutions affiliated with the University of Chicago; Florida Conference College, at Leesburg; Rolin's College, at Winterpark; and Saint Leo Military College, in Pasco County.

Charitable and Penal Institutions. The State maintains an institution for the blind, deaf, and dumb at Saint Augustine, and a State Reform School at Marianna. There are a hospital for the insane and a Confederate Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Tallahassee. The number of State convicts in recent years has averaged about 700. Of these nearly six-sevenths are colored. Florida, in common with some other Southern States, still follows the questionable method of farming out convicts to contractors, thus avoiding the heavy expenses incurred by other penal systems—indeed, actually making them a source of income to the State. In 1900 the convicts were divided into 13 camps, 7 of which were engaged in mining phosphate and 6 in the manufacture of naval stores.

Government. The present Constitution was ratified by popular vote in November, 1886. An amendment may be adopted by a three-fifths vote of each House and the approval of a majority of the electors of the State voting at a general election. A constitutional convention may be called if demanded by a two-thirds vote of each House and the approval of the majority of the State electors voting at a general election. Suffrage is granted to male persons of twenty-one years, who are citizens of the United States, or who shall have declared their intention of becoming such, and have lived in Florida one year and in the county six months. Since 1880 there has been an educational qualification for voters. The registration of voters is required.

Legislature. The Legislature meets on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April of odd years. There are 32 Senators chosen for four years, and 68 Assemblymen for two years; legislative sessions are biennial, and limited to 60 days; members have $6 a day and mileage. A bill may embrace but one subject, and may originate in either House. All impeachments are made by the House and tried by the Senate. A two-thirds vote of the members present in each House overrides the Governor's veto.

Executive. The Governor is elected for four years and cannot succeed himself. There are also elected for the same term of office a secretary, comptroller, attorney-general, commissioner of agriculture, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction. The first four of these, together with the Governor, may remit fines and forfeitures, commute punishment, and grant pardons. Should the Governorship become vacant it will be filled by the president of the Senate, and if again vacant, by the speaker of the House.

Judicial. There are a Supreme Court consisting of a chief justice and two associates, elected for a term of six years, also circuit, criminal, and county courts, and justices of the peace. Seven circuit court judges are appointed for six years, and each holds annually two court sessions; county court judges are elected for four years. The county commissioners divide the counties into justice districts, in each of which a justice of the peace is elected for four years. Each county elects a prosecuting attorney and each justice district a constable.

Local Government. Every county is divided into five districts, from each of which a county commissioner is elected. Other county officers are: a clerk of the circuit court, sheriff, county assessor of taxes, tax collector, county treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and a county surveyor. The term of office of all the above is four years, except that of the assessor of taxes, county tax collector, and county treasurer, who are elected for two years. The Legislature provides a uniform system of municipal government. The legal rate of interest is 8 per cent., but 10 is allowed by contract. Judgments outlaw in twenty years, notes in five, and open accounts in two. Extreme cruelty, habitual intemperance, and willful neglect for one year are the principal causes for divorce—previous residence required, two years. The property of the wife is not liable for the debts of the husband without her consent. Upon the application of one-fourth of the electors of any county a vote can be taken to determine whether intoxicating liquors shall be sold in the county.

Militia. In 1899 the organized aggregate militia of Florida was 1258, of whom 1167 were members of the infantry and 91 of the light batteries. In 1900 the males of military age numbered 114,500.

Tallahassee is the capital of the State. Two Representatives are sent to the Lower House of Congress.

History. Florida was discovered on Easter Sunday (Pascua Florida), 1513, by Ponce de Leon, who landed near the site of the present Saint Augustine in search of the Fountain of Perpetual Youth. He failed to find the fountain, and, returning in 1521, found death instead. Ayllon carried off large numbers of Indians from Florida as slaves between 1520 and 1526, and in 1528 Pánfilo Narvaez (q.v.) invaded the country with a force of 400 men eager for conquest and booty. Narvaez pushed into the wilderness north of the Gulf, and only four survivors of his band, among them Cabeza de Vaca, succeeded in reaching Mexico after infinite hardships. In 1539 Hernando De Soto (q.v.) traversed the country. In 1559 a well-equipped expedition of 1500 men under Don Tristan de Luna sailed from Vera Cruz, and landed, August 14, on the shores of Santa Maria Bay, probably the Bay of Pensacola. The main body penetrated into the country for a distance of forty days' march, while a smaller detachment explored the region as far as the Coosa River in eastern Alabama. Discouraged by the hardships encountered, the expedition returned to Mexico, after passing more than a year in the country.

Under the patronage of Coligny, French Huguenots, led by Ribault, had founded in 1562 a colony at Port Royal, in South Carolina; when that settlement, owing to the worthless character of the colonists, failed, René de Laudonnière brought over a new band of emigrants in 1564, and built Fort Caroline on the Saint John's River. To uphold the Spanish claims to the country against the French, Pedro Menendez de Avilés sailed from Spain in 1565, erected a fort at Saint Augustine, and, taking Fort Caroline, exterminated the Huguenot colony. (See Gourgues, Dominique de.) Saint Augustine was burned by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, and was plundered by English buccaneers in 1665; but the Spaniards retained their hold on the country, and about 1699 founded Pensacola. In 1702 the Perdido River was made the boundary between Florida and French Louisiana. Between the Spaniards of Saint Augustine and the southern English colonists hostile relations generally prevailed. A force from Carolina, under Colonel Daniel, burned Saint Augustine in 1702, and in the following year Governor Moore, with a force of English and Creek Indians, defeated a Spanish force under Don Juan Mexia at Fort San Luis, near Tallahassee, and reduced a number of Spanish-Indian towns. In 1718 and again in 1719 Pensacola was taken by the French, the town being destroyed on the second occasion. When Georgia was settled, General Oglethorpe found it necessary to protect the new colony by an invasion of the enemy's country. He failed to take Saint Augustine, but repelled an attack of the Spanish fleet on the forts of the Altamaha in 1742. By the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Spain ceded East and West Florida (the latter lay west of the Apalachicola River, and embraced a large part of what is now Alabama and Mississippi) to England, but recovered possession of both in 1783. West Florida was sold to France in 1795. After 1803 the United States asserted its title to the region between the Pearl River and the Perdido on the ground that it had formed part of Louisiana as held by France, Spain, and France again, in turn. In 1812 and 1813 United States troops took possession of the disputed territory. Pensacola was garrisoned by the British in 1814 with the consent of the Spanish authorities, but was taken by General Jackson in November of that year.

In East Florida Spain made no attempt to preserve order, and the country was overrun by white adventurers, Seminole Indians, and escaped slaves from the Southern States. Marauding bands of Indians and negroes crossed the frontier into Georgia, plundered and burned, and fled into Spanish territory beyond the reach of the United States authorities. Such reasons, as well as a natural hunger for land, made the Georgians anxious for the acquisition of the peninsula. In 1818 General Jackson, conducting operations against the Seminoles, invaded Florida, and after defeating the Indians, turned about and took Pensacola, the Governor of which had been supplying the Seminoles with arms. The town was restored to Spain; but in 1821 Florida, by virtue of a treaty concluded in 1819, passed to the United States, and in March, 1822, it was organized into a Territory. It was admitted into the Union in 1845. Between 1835 and 1843 a bitter warfare was waged against the Seminoles, and it resulted in the removal of the greater part of them beyond the Mississippi. On January 10, 1861, the State passed an ordinance of secession. Three days previously the State authorities had seized Fort Marion and the arsenals at Saint Augustine and Apalachicola; and on the 12th the navy yards and forts at Pensacola were taken possession of. Jacksonville, Fernandina, and Saint Augustine were taken by the Federal forces in 1862; but at the battle of Olustee, February 20, 1864, the State was lost to the Union. The ordinance of secession was repealed in October, 1865, and a State Government was organized in 1866; but it was not till June, 1868, after a new constitution had been adopted and the Fourteenth Amendment ratified, that Florida was readmitted into the Union. For a number of years after the war, the State was in difficult financial conditions, and the burden of taxation was heavy. Elaborate plans for the building of new railroads failed to be carried out, and many old roads went into bankruptcy. Between 1875 and 1880, a period during which the political power was passing from the Republicans to the Democrats, election contests were close and bitter, and appeals from the ballot-box to the courts were frequent. The part played by the electoral vote of Florida in the disputed Presidential election of 1876 was important. (See Electoral Commission.) After 1882 the reclamation of swamp lands in the south of the peninsula was carried on on a large scale, and led to the development of the sugar industry. The discovery of rich phosphate deposits in 1889 improved economic conditions greatly, and the growing popularity of eastern Florida as a winter resort has further enhanced its prosperity. The present Constitution was adopted in 1886. In politics, both State and National, Florida since 1876 has been invariably Democratic.

Territorial Governors
Andrew Jackson 1821-22
William P. Duval 1822-34
John H. Eaton 1834-36
Richard K. Call 1836-39
Robert R. Reid 1839-41
Richard K. Call 1841-44
John Branch 1844-45
State Governors
William D. Moseley Whig 1846-49
Thomas Brown 1849-53
James E. Broome Democrat 1853-57
Madison S. Perry 1857-61
John Milton 1861-65
William Marvin Provisional 1865-66
David Shelby Walker  Democrat 1866-68
Harrison Reed  Republican  1868-72
Ossian B. Hart 1873-March 1874
Marcellus L. Stearns 1874-77
George F. Drew Democrat 1877-81
William D. Bloxham 1881-85
Edward A. Perry 1885-89
Francis P. Fleming 1889-93
Henry L. Mitchell 1893-97
William D. Bloxham 1897-1901
William S. Jennings 1901-

Consult: Mrs. Stowe, Palmetto Leaves (Boston, 1873); Barbour, Florida (New York, 1884); Norton, A Handbook of Florida (New York, 1892); Cory, Hunting and Fishing in Florida (Boston, 1896); Ward, The English Angler in Florida (London, 1898); Bush, “History of Education in Florida,” United States Bureau of Education, Circular of Information, 1888, No. 7; Fairbanks, History of Florida (Philadelphia, 1871).