Florida History

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The following important events in the history of Florida affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movement.

1565:  The Spanish founded St. Augustine, the first permanent white settlement in what is now the United States. Pensacola was founded by the Spanish in 1698, but there was little significant European settlement in Florida until the late eighteenth century.

1763:  At the close of the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War), Britain gained control of Florida. Settlers from Europe and the American colonies to the north began to move into the area. The provinces of East Florida and West Florida were formed.

1783: Most of the British settlers left when Spain regained the Floridas.

1812: The United States annexed portions of West Florida to Louisiana and to the Mississippi Territory.

1819:  Spain ceded the remainder of West Florida and all of East Florida to the United States. Official United States occupation took place in 1821, and Florida was organized as a territory in 1822.

1842:  At the close of the Seminole Wars, most of the Indians were removed west to present-day Oklahoma, but a few hundred escaped into the swamps.

1845: Florida became a state.

1861:  Florida seceded from the Union. It was readmitted in 1868.

1870-1900:  The post-Civil War boom brought many settlers to Florida, as developers from the North built railroads and resorts.

1921-1925:  The last 13 of the state's 67 counties were organized as the Florida land boom attracted new settlers from the north.

An especially helpful source for studying the history of Florida is Junius E. Dovell, Florida: Historic- Dramatic-Contemporary, Four Volumes. (New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1952; FHL book 975.9 H2do).