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Forida Map Florida, the twenty-seventh State admitted into the Union; received its name from its discoverer in 1512 (see PONCE DE LEON). It was visited by Vasquez, another Spaniard, in 1520. It is believed by some that Verrazani saw its coasts in 1524; and the same year a Spaniard named De Geray visited it. Its conquest was undertaken by Narvaez, in 1528, and by De Soto in 1539. PAMPHILIO NARVAEZ, CABEZA DE VACA, with several hundred young men from rich and noble families of Spain landed at Tampa Bay, April 14, 1528, taking possession of the country for the King of Spain. In August they had reached St. Mark's at Appopodree Bay, but the ships they expected had not yet arrived. They made boats by September 2, on which they embarked and sailed along shore to the Mississippi. All the company excepting Cabeza de Vaca and three others perished. In 1549, Louis Cancella endeavored to establish a mission in Florida but was driven away by the Indians, who killed most of the priests. Twenty-six Huguenots under John Ribault had made a settlement at Port Royal, but removed to the mouth of St. John's River in Florida, where they were soon reinforced by several hundred Huguenots with their families. They erected a fort which they named Fort Carolina. Menendez with 2,500 men reached the coast of Florida on St. Augustine's day, and marched against the Huguenot settlement. Ribault's vessels were wrecked, and Melendez attacked the fort, captured it and massacred 900 men, women, and children. Upon the ruins of the fort Melendez reared a cross with this inscription: " Not as to Frenchmen, but as Lutherans." When the news of the massacre reached France, Dominic de Gourges determined to avenge the same, and with 150 men sailed for Florida, captured the fort on the St. John's River, and hanged the entire garrison, having affixed this inscription above them: "Not as to Spaniards, but as murderers." Being too weak to attack St. Augustine, Gourges returned to France.

SCENE OF THE MURDER OF THE HUGUENOTS BY MENENDEZ.

The city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565, and was captured by Sir Francis Drake in 1586. The domain of Florida, in those times, extended indefinitely westward, and included Louisiana. La Salle visited the western portion in 1682, and in 1696 Pensacola was settled by Spaniards.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the English in the Carolinas attacked the Spaniards at St. Augustine; and, subsequently, the Georgians, under Oglethorpe, made war upon them. By the treaty of Paris, in 1763, Florida was exchanged by the Spaniards, with Great Britain, for Cuba, which had then recently been conquered by England. Soon afterwards, they divided the territory into east and west Florida, the Appalachicola River being the boundary line. Natives of Greece, Italy, and Minorca were induced to settle there, at a place called New Smyrna, about 60 miles south of St. Augustine, to the number of 1,500, where they engaged in the cultivation of indigo and the sugar-cane; but, becoming dissatisfied with their employers, they removed to St. Augustine. During the Revolutionary War the trade of the Southern colonies was seriously interfered with by pirates fitted out in Florida, and the British incited the Indians in that region to make war on the Americans. The Spaniards invaded west Florida, and captured the garrison at Baton Rouge, in 1779; and in May, 1781, they seized Pensacola. By the treaty of 1783, Florida was retroceded to Spain, and the western boundary was defined, when a greater part of the inhabitants emigrated to the United States. When, in 1803, Louisiana was ceded to the United States by France, it was declared to be ceded with the same extent that it had in the hands of Spain, and as it had been ceded by Spain to France. This gave the United States a claim to the country west of the Perdido River, and the government took possession of it in 1811. Some irritation ensued. In the war with Great Britain (1812), the Spanish authorities at Pensacola favored the English. An expedition against the Americans having been fitted out there, General Jackson captured that town. Again, in 1818, it was captured by Jackson, but subsequently returned to Spain.

The Florida Purchase

Florida was purchased from Spain by the United States in 1819, and was surrendered to the latter in July, 1821. Emigration then began to flow into the Territory, in spite of many obstacles. In 1835 a distressing warfare broke out between the fierce SEMINOLE INDIANS, who inhabited some of the better portions of Florida, and the government of the United States, and continued until 1842, when the Indians were subdued, though not thoroughly conquered.

Seminole Indians

EARLY INDIAN LIFE IN FLORIDA. (From an old print.)

Florida Secession

Florida was admitted into the Union as a State on March 8, 1845. Inhabitants of the State joined in the war against the government, a secession ordinance having been passed Jan. 10, 1861, by a convention assembled on the 3rd. Forts and arsenals and the navy-yard at Pensacola were seized by the Confederates. The State authorities continued hostilities until the close of the war. On July 13, 1865, William Marvin was appointed provisional governor of the State, and on Oct. 28 a State convention, held at Tallahassee, repealed the ordinance of secession. The civil authority was transferred by the national government to the provisional State officers in January, 1866, and, under the reorganization measures of Congress, Florida was made a part of the 3d Military District, in 1867. A new constitution was ratified by the people in May, 1868, and, after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the national Constitution, on June 14, Florida was recognized as a reorganized State of the Union. The government was transferred to the State officers on July 4. In 1899 the assessed (full cash value) valuation of taxable property was $93,527,353, and in 1900 the total bonded debt was $1,275,000, of which all excepting $322,500 was held in various State funds. The population in 1890 was 391,422; in 1900, 528,542.

Early Exploration of Florida

Don Tristan de Luna sailed from Vera Cruz, Mexico, Aug. 14, 1559, with 1,500 soldiers, many zealous friars who wished to convert the heathen, and many women and children, families of the soldiers. He landed near the site of Pensacola, and a week afterwards a terrible storm destroyed all his vessels and strewed the shores with their fragments. He sent an exploring party into the interior. They traveled forty days through a barren and almost uninhabited country, and found a deserted Indian village, but not a trace of the wealth with which it was supposed Florida abounded. Constructing a vessel sufficient to bear messengers to the viceroy of Mexico, De Luna sent them to ask for aid to return. Two vessels were sent by the viceroy, and, two years after his departure, De Luna returned to Mexico. When Oglethorpe returned to Georgia from England (1736) he discovered a hostile feeling among the Spaniards at St. Augustine. They had tried to incite the Indians against the new settlements, and also to procure the assassination of Oglethorpe. The latter, not fairly prepared to resist an invasion, sent a messenger to St. Augustine to invite the Spanish commandant to a friendly conference. He explored some of the coast islands and prepared for fortification. His messenger did not return, and he proceeded to secure possession of the country so far as its defined boundary permitted him. His hostile preparations made the Spaniards vigilant, and even threaten war; and when, in 1739, there was war between England and Spain, he determined to strike the Spaniards at St. Augustine a heavy blow before they were fully prepared to resist it. He penetrated Florida with a small force and captured some outposts early in 1740; and in May he marched towards St. Augustine with 600 regular troops, 400 Carolina militia, and a large body of friendly Indians. With these he stood before St. Augustine in June, after capturing two forts, and demanded the instant surrender of the post. It was refused, and Oglethorpe determined to starve the garrison by a close investment. The town was surrendered, and a small squadron blockaded the harbor. Swift-sailing galleys ran the weak blockade and supplied the fort. Oglethorpe had no cannon and could not breach the walls. In the heat of summer malaria invaded his camp, the siege was raised, and he returned to Savannah. Hostilities were then suspended for about two years.

Saint Augustine

AN EARLY VIEW OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA.

In the summer of 1776 a citizen of Georgia visited General Charles Lee at Charleston and persuaded him that St. Augustine could easily be taken. The man was a stranger, but without further inquiry, Lee announced to the Continental troops under his command that he had planned for them a safe, sure, and remunerative expedition, of which the very large booty would be all their own. Calling it a secret, he let everybody know its destination. Without adequate preparation, without a field-piece or a medicine chest, he hastily marched off the Virginia and North Carolina troops, in the second week in August, to the malarious regions of Georgia. By his order, Howe, of North Carolina, and Moultrie, of South Carolina, soon followed. About 460 men from South Carolina were sent to Savannah by water, with two field-pieces; and on the 18th, Lee, after reviewing the collected troops, sent the Virginians and a portion of the South Carolinians to Sunbury. The fever made sad havoc among them, and fourteen or fifteen men were buried daily. Then Lee sought to shift from himself to Moultrie the further conduct of the expedition, for he saw it must be disastrous. Moultrie warned him that no available resources which would render success possible had been provided, and the wretched expedition was then abandoned. Fortunately for his reputation Lee was ordered North early in September and joined Washington on Harlem Heights. See LEE, CHARLES.

Tory refugees from Georgia acquired considerable influence over the Creek Indians, and from east Florida, especially from St. Augustine, made predatory excursions among their former neighbors. Gen. Robert Howe, commanding the Southern Department, in 1778, was ordered from Charleston to Savannah to protect the Georgians and attack St. Augustine. A considerable body of troops led by Howe, and accompanied by General Houstoun, of Georgia, penetrated as far as the St. Mary's River, where sickness, loss of draught-horses, and disputes about command checked the expedition and caused it to be abandoned. The refugees in Florida retaliated by an invasion in their turn.

In the summer of that year two bodies of armed men, composed of regulars and refugees, made a rapid incursion into Georgia from east Florida—one in boats through the inland navigation, the other overland by way of the Altamaha River. The first party advanced to Sunbury and summoned the fort to surrender. Colonel McIntosh, its commander, replied, "Come and take it." The enterprise was abandoned. The other corps pushed on towards Savannah, but was met by about 100 militia, with whom they skirmished. In one of these General Scriven, who commanded the Americans, was mortally wounded. Near Ogeeehee Ferry the invaders were repulsed by General Elbert with 200 Continental soldiers. Hearing of the repulse at Sunbury, they also retreated.

Galvez, the Spanish governor of New Orleans, took measures in 1779 to establish the claim of Spain to the territory east of the Mississippi. He invaded west Florida with 1,400 men, Spanish regulars, American volunteers, and colored people. He took Fort Bute, at Pass Manshac (September, 1779), and then went against Baton Rouge, where the British had 400 regulars and 100 militia. The post speedily surrendered, as did also Fort Panmure, recently built at Natchez. A few months later he captured Mobile. leaving Pensacola the only port of west Florida in possession of the British. On May 9, in the following year, Don Galvez took possession of Pensacola, capturing or driving away the British there, and soon afterwards completed the conquest of the whole of west Florida.

Florida Declares Its Independence

The success of Napoleon's arms in Spain and the impending peril to the Spanish monarchy gave occasion for revolutionary movements in the Spanish province of west Florida bordering on the Mississippi early in 1810. That region undoubtedly belonged to the United States as a part of Louisiana bought from the French, but Spain had refused to relinquish it. The inhabitants were mostly of British or American birth. Early in the autumn of 1810 they seized the fort at Baton Rouge, met in convention, and proclaimed themselves independent, adopting a single star for their flag, as the Texans did in 1836. There were some conflicts between the revolutionists and adherents of the Spanish connection, and an attack upon the insurgents seemed imminent from the Spanish garrison at Mobile. Through Holmes, governor of the Mississippi Territory, the revolutionists applied to the United States for recognition and aid. They claimed all the unlocated lands in the domain, pardon for all deserters from the United States army (of whom there were many among them), and an immediate loan of $100,000.

Florida Annexed to the United States

Instead of complying with these requirements, the President issued a proclamation for taking possession of the east bank of the Mississippi, an act which had been delayed because of conciliatory views towards Spain. Claiborne, governor of the Orleans Territory, then in Washington, was sent in haste to take possession, authorized, in case of resistance, to call upon the regular troops stationed on the Mississippi, and upon the militia of the two adjoining Territories. It was not necessary. Soon after this movement at Baton Rouge a man named Kemper, who purported to act under the Florida insurgents, approached Mobile, with some followers, to attempt the capture of the garrison. He was repulsed; but the alarmed Spanish governor wrote to the American authorities that if he were not speedily reinforced he should be disposed to treat for the transfer of the entire province. Congress passed an act authorizing the President to take possession of both east and west Florida to prevent its falling into the hands of another foreign power. Thus it might be held subject to future peaceful negotiations with Spain. Florida, it will be remembered, was divided into two provinces, east and west. The boundary-line was the Perdido River, east of Mobile Bay. The Georgians coveted east Florida, and in the spring of 1812 Brig.-Gen. George Mathews, of the Georgia militia, who had been appointed a commissioner, under an act of a secret session of Congress in 1810-11, to secure that province should it be offered to the United States, stirred up an insurrection there. AMELIA ISLAND, lying a little below the dividing line between Georgia and Florida, was chosen for a base of operations. The fine harbor of its capital, Fernandina, was a place of great resort for smugglers during the days of the embargo, and, as neutral ground,, might be made a dangerous place. The possession of the island and harbor was therefore important to the Americans, and a sought for pretext for seizing it was soon found. The Florida insurgents planted the standard of revolt, March, 1812, on the bluff opposite the town of St. Mary, on the border line. Some United States gunboats under Commodore Campbell were in the St. Mary's River, and Mathews had some United States troops at his command near. The insurgents, 220 in number, sent a flag of truce, March 17, to Fernandina, demanding the surrender of the town and island. About the same time the American gunboats appeared there. The authorities bowed in submission, and General Mathews, assuming the character of a protector, took possession of the place in the name of the United States. At the same time the commodore assured the Spanish governor that the gunboats were there only for aid and protection to a large portion of the population, who thought proper to declare themselves independent.

On the 19th the town was formally given up to the United States authorities; a custom-house was established; the floating property in the harbor was considered under the protection of the United States flag, and smuggling ceased. The insurgent band, swelled to 800 by reinforcements from Georgia, and accompanied by troops furnished by General Mathews, besieged the Spanish garrison at St. Augustine, for it was feared the British might help the Spaniards in recovering what they had lost in the territory. The United States government would not countenance this kind of filibustering, and Mathews was superseded as commissioner, April 10, 1812, by Governor Mitchell, of Georgia. Mitchell, professing to believe Congress would sanction Mathews's proceedings, made no change in policy. The House of Representatives did actually pass a bill, in secret session, June 21, authorizing the President to take possession of east Florida. The Senate rejected it, for it would have been unwise to quarrel with Spain at the moment when war was about to be declared against Great Britain.

Jackson's invasion of Florida and his capture of Pensacola caused much political debate in and out of Congress. By some he was much censured, by others praised. The United States government upheld him, and the Secretary of State, John Q. Adams, made an able plea of justification, on the ground of the well-known interference of the Spanish authorities in Florida in American affairs, and the giving of shelter to British subjects inciting the Indians to make war. lt was thought the British government would take notice of the summary execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister (see SEMINOLE WAR) ; but it took the ground that British subjects, meddling in the affairs of a foreign nation, must take the consequences. Secretary Adams and the Spanish minister, lion Onis, had been in correspondence for some time concerning the settlement of the Florida question and the western boundary of the United States next to the Spanish possessions. Finally, pending discussion in Congress on Jackson's vigorous proceedings in Florida, the Spanish minister, under new instructions from home, signed a treaty, Feb. 22, 1819, for the cession of Florida, on the extinction of the various American claims for spoliation, for the satisfaction of which the United States agreed to pay to the claimants $5,000,000. The Louisiana boundary, as fixed by the treaty, was a compromise between the respective offers heretofore made, though leaning a good deal towards the American side. It was agreed that the Sabine to lat. 33° N., thence a north meridian line to the Red River, the course of. that river to long. 100° W., thence north by that meridian to the Arkansas River to its head and to lat. 42° N., and along that degree to the Pacific Ocean, should be the boundary between the possessions of the United States and Spain. The Florida treaty was immediately ratified by the United States Senate, and, in expectation of a speedy ratification by Spain, an act was passed to authorize the President to take possession of the newly ceded territory. But there was great delay in the Spanish ratification. It did not take place until early in 1821. The ratified treaty was received by the President in February.

Florida in the Civil War

Before the Florida ordinance of secession was passed Florida troops seized, Jan. 6, 1861, the Chattahoochee arsenal, with 500,000 rounds of musket cartridges, 300,000 rifle cartridges, and 50,000 lbs. of gunpowder. They also took possession of Fort Marion, at St. Augustine, formerly the Castle of St. Mark, which was built by the Spaniards more than 100 years before. It contained an arsenal. On the 15th they seized the United States coast survey schooner F. W. Dana, and appropriated it to their own use. The Chattahoochee arsenal was in charge of the courageous Sergeant Powell and three men. He said, " Five minutes ago I was in command of this arsenal, but in consequence of the weakness of my command, I am obliged to surrender. . . . If I had force equal to, or half the strength of yours, I'll be damned if you would have entered that gate until you had passed over my dead body. You see that I have but three men. I now consider myself a prisoner of war. Take my sword, Captain Jones."

Anxious to establish an independent empire on the borders of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida politicians met in convention early in January, 1861, at Tallahassee, the State capital. Colonel Petit was chosen chairman of the convention, and Bishop Rutledge invoked the blessing of the Almighty upon the acts they were about to perform. The members numbered sixty-nine, and about one-third of them were " Cooperationists " (see MISSISSIPPI). The legislature of Florida, fully prepared to cooperate with the convention, had convened at the same place on the 5th. On the 10th the convention adopted an ordinance of secession, by a vote of 62 against 7. In its preamble it was declared that " all hopes of preserving the Union upon terms consistent with the safety and honor of the slave-holding States " had been " fully dissipated." It was further declared that by the ordinance Florida had withdrawn from the Union and become " a sovereign and independent nation." On the following day the ordinance was signed, while bells rang and cannon thundered to signify the popular joy. The news was received by the Florida representatives in Congress at Washington; but, notwithstanding the State had withdrawn from the Union, they remained in their seats, for reasons given in a letter to Joseph Finnegan, written by Senator David L. Yulee from his desk in the Senate chamber. " It seemed to be the opinion," he said, " that if we left here, force, loan, and volunteer bills might be passed, which would put Mr. Lincoln in immediate condition for hostilities; whereas, by remaining in our places until the 4th of March, it is thought we can keep the hands of Mr. Buchanan tied, and disable the Republicans from effecting any legislation which will strengthen the hands of the incoming administration." Senators from other States wrote similar letters under their official franks. The convention was addressed by L. \V. Spratt, of South Carolina, an eminent advocate for reopening the African slave-trade. Delegates were appointed to a general convention to assemble at Montgomery, Ala., and other measures were taken to secure the sovereignty of Florida. The legislature authorized the emission of treasury notes to the amount of $500,000, and defined the crime of treason against the State to be, in one form, the holding of office under the national government in case of actual collision between the State and government troops, punishable with death. The governor of the State (Perry) had previously made arrangements to seize the United States forts, navy-yard, and other government property in Florida.

In the early part of the Civil War the national military and naval forces under General Wright and Commodore Dupont made easy conquests on the coast of Florida. In February, 1862, they captured Fort Clinch, on Amelia Island, which the Confederates had seized, and drove the Confederates from Fernandina. Other posts were speedily abandoned, and a flotilla of gunboats, under Lieut. T. H. Stevens, went up the St. John's River, and captured Jacksonville, March 11. St. Augustine was taken possession of about the same time by Commander C. R. P. Rogers, and the alarmed Confederates abandoned Pensacola and the fortifications opposite Fort Pickens. Before the middle of April the whole Atlantic coast from Cape Hatteras to Perdido Bay, west of Fort Pickens (excepting Charleston and its vicinity), had been abandoned by the Confederates.

 

 

 

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