|Governorate of Florida|
La Florida (Spanish)
|Territory of New Spain|
Cross of Burgundy
Spanish Florida after Pinckney's Treaty in 1795
| Marcha Real |
|• Motto|| Plus Ultra |
transl. Further Beyond
• Spanish exploration and settlement
• San Miguel de Gualdape establishment and abandonment
• Initial Pensacola establishment, abandonment, and re-establishment at Presidio Santa Maria de Galve
• Fort Caroline establishment as part of French Florida and Spanish sacking
• St. Augustine establishment
• Santa Elena establishment at Charlesfort and abandonment
|Today part of||United States|
Spanish Florida (Spanish : La Florida) was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was initially much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia,  Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,  and Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; they were eventually abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial settlements, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient. By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond a handful of forts near St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola, all within the boundaries of present-day Florida.
Florida was never more than a backwater region for Spain and served primarily as a strategic buffer between New Spain (whose undefined northeastern border was somewhere near the Mississippi River), Spain's Caribbean colonies, and the expanding English colonies to the north. In contrast with Mexico and Peru, there was no gold or silver to be found. Due to disease and, later, raids by Carolina colonists and their Native American allies, the native population was not large enough for an encomienda system of forced agricultural labor, so Spain did not establish large plantations in Florida. Large free-range cattle ranches in north-central Florida were the most successful agricultural enterprise and were able to supply both local and Cuban markets. The coastal towns of Pensacola and St. Augustine also provided ports where Spanish ships needing water or supplies could call.
Beginning in the 1630s, a series of missions stretching from St. Augustine to the Florida panhandle supplied St. Augustine with maize and other food crops, and the Apalachees who lived at the missions were required to send workers to St. Augustine every year to perform labor in the town. The missions were destroyed by Carolina and Creek raiders in a series of raids from 1702 to 1704, further reducing and dispersing the native population of Florida and reducing Spanish control over the area.
Britain took possession of Florida as part of the agreements ending the Seven Years' War in 1763, and the Spanish population largely emigrated to Cuba. The new colonial ruler divided the territory into East and West Florida, but despite offers of free land to new settlers, Britain was unable to increase the population or economic output, and traded Florida back to Spain after the American War of Independence in 1783. Spain's ability to govern or control the colony continued to erode, and, after repeated incursions by American forces against the Seminole people who had settled in Florida, Spain finally decided to sell the territory to the United States. The parties signed the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819, and the transfer officially took place on July 17, 1821, over 300 years after Spain had first claimed the Florida peninsula.
Spanish Florida was established in 1513, when Juan Ponce de León claimed peninsular Florida for Spain during the first official European expedition to North America. This claim was enlarged as several explorers (most notably Pánfilo Narváez and Hernando de Soto) landed near Tampa Bay in the mid-1500s and wandered as far north as the Appalachian Mountains and as far west as Texas in largely unsuccessful searches for gold.  
On September 8, 1565, Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed with a band of settlers to found St. Augustine. Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain of the expedition, celebrated the first Thanksgiving Mass on the grounds.  The formal Franciscan outpost, Mission Nombre de Dios, was founded at the landing point, perhaps the first mission in what would become the continental United States.  The mission served nearby villages of the Mocama, a Timucua group, and was at the center of an important chiefdom in the late 16th and 17th century. A series of missions were then established across the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and South Carolina during the 1600s; and Pensacola was founded on the western Florida panhandle in 1698, strengthening Spanish claims to that section of the territory.
Spanish control of the Florida peninsula was much facilitated by the collapse of native cultures during the 17th century. Several Native American groups (including the Timucua, Calusa, Tequesta, Apalachee, Tocobaga, and the Ais people) had been long-established residents of Florida, and most resisted Spanish incursions onto their land. However, conflict with Spanish expeditions, raids by the Carolina colonists and their native allies, and (especially) diseases brought from Europe resulted in a drastic decline in the population of all the indigenous peoples of Florida, and large swaths of the peninsula were mostly uninhabited by the early 1700s. During the mid-1700s, small bands of Creek and other Native American refugees began moving south into Spanish Florida after having been forced off their lands by South Carolinan settlements and raids. They were later joined by African-Americans fleeing slavery in nearby colonies. These newcomers – plus perhaps a few surviving descendants of indigenous Florida peoples – eventually coalesced into a new Seminole culture.
The extent of Spanish Florida began to shrink in the 1600s, and the mission system was gradually abandoned due to native depopulation. Between disease, poor management, and ill-timed hurricanes, several Spanish attempts to establish new settlements in La Florida ended in failure. With no gold or silver in the region, Spain regarded Florida (and particularly the heavily fortified town of St. Augustine) primarily as a buffer between its more prosperous colonies to the south and west and several newly established rival European colonies to the north. The establishment of the Province of Carolina by the English in 1639, New Orleans by the French in 1718, and of the Province of Georgia by Great Britain in 1732 limited the boundaries of Florida over Spanish objections. The War of Jenkins' Ear (1739–1748) included a British attack on St. Augustine and a Spanish invasion of Georgia, both of which were repulsed. At the conclusion of the war, the northern boundary of Spanish Florida was set near the current northern border of modern-day Florida.
Great Britain temporarily gained control of Florida beginning in 1763 as a result of the Anglo-Spanish War when the British captured Havana, the principal port of Spain's New World colonies. Peace was signed in February, 1763, and the British left Cuba in July that year, having traded Cuba to Spain for Florida (the Spanish population of Florida likewise traded positions and emigrated to the island). But while Britain occupied Floridan territory, it did not develop it further. Sparsely populated British Florida stayed loyal to the Crown during the American Revolutionary War, and by the terms of the Treaty of Paris which ended the war, the territory was returned to Spain in 1783. After a brief diplomatic border dispute with the fledgling United States, the countries set a territorial border and allowed Americans free navigation of the Mississippi River by the terms of Pinckney's Treaty in 1795.
France sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803. The U.S. claimed that the transaction included West Florida, while Spain insisted that the area was not part of Louisiana and was still Spanish territory. In 1810, the United States intervened in a local uprising in West Florida, and by 1812, the Mobile District was absorbed into the U.S. territory of Mississippi, reducing the borders of Spanish Florida to that of modern Florida.
In the early 1800s, tensions rose along the unguarded border between Spanish Florida and the state of Georgia as settlers skirmished with Seminoles over land and American slave-hunters raided Black Seminole villages in Florida. These tensions were exacerbated when the Seminoles aided Great Britain against the United States during the War of 1812 and led to American military incursions into northern Florida beginning in late 1814 during what became known as the First Seminole War. As with earlier American incursions into Florida, Spain protested this invasion but could not defend its territory, and instead opened diplomatic negotiations seeking a peaceful transfer of land. By the terms of the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, Spanish Florida ceased to exist in 1821, when control of the territory was officially transferred to the United States.
Juan Ponce de León is generally credited as being the first European to discover Florida. However, that may not have been the case. Spanish raiders from the Caribbean may have conducted small secret raids in Florida to capture and enslave native Floridians at some time between 1500 and 1510.  : 107  Furthermore, the Portuguese Cantino planisphere of 1502 and several other European maps dating from the first decade of the 16th century show a landmass near Cuba that several historians have identified as Florida.      This interpretation has led to the theory that anonymous Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to map the southeastern portion of the future United States, including Florida. This view is disputed by at least an equal number of historians.     
In 1512 Juan Ponce de León, governor of Puerto Rico, received royal permission to search for land north of Cuba. On March 3, 1513, his expedition departed from Punta Aguada, Puerto Rico, sailing north in three ships.  In late March, he spotted a small island (almost certainly one of the Bahamas) but did not land. On April 2, Ponce de León spotted the east coast of the Florida peninsula and went ashore the next day at an exact location that has been lost to time.  Assuming that he had found a large island, he claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, because it was the season of Pascua Florida ("Flowery Easter") and because much of the vegetation was in bloom.  After briefly exploring the area around their landing site, the expedition returned to their ships and sailed south to map the coast, encountering the Gulf Stream along the way. The expedition followed Florida's coastline all the way around the Florida Keys and north to map a portion of the Southwest Florida coast before returning to Puerto Rico.
Ponce de León did not have substantial documented interactions with Native Americans during his voyage. However, the peoples he met (likely the Timucua, Tequesta, and Calusa) were mostly hostile at first contact and knew a few Castilian words, lending credence to the idea that they had already been visited by Spanish raiders.  : 106–110
Popular legend has it that Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he discovered Florida. However, the first mention of Ponce de León allegedly searching for water to cure his aging (he was only 40) came after his death, more than twenty years after his voyage of discovery, and the first that placed the Fountain of Youth in Florida was thirty years after that. It is much more likely that Ponce de León, like other Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, was looking for gold, land to colonize and rule for Spain, and Indians to convert to Christianity or enslave.  
Other Spanish voyages to Florida quickly followed Ponce de León's return. Sometime in the period from 1514 to 1516, Pedro de Salazar led an officially sanctioned raid which enslaved as many as 500 Indians along the Atlantic coast of the present-day southeastern United States.  Diego Miruelo mapped what was probably Tampa Bay in 1516, Francisco Hernández de Cordova mapped most of Florida's Gulf coast to the Mississippi River in 1517, and Alonso Álvarez de Pineda sailed and mapped the central and western Gulf coast to the Yucatán Peninsula in 1519.
In 1521, Ponce de León sailed from Cuba with 200 men in two ships to establish a colony on the southwest coast of the Florida peninsula, probably near Charlotte Harbor. However, attacks by the native Calusa drove the colonists away in July 1521. During the skirmish, Ponce de León was wounded in his thigh  and later died of his injuries upon the expedition's return to Havana. 
In 1521 Pedro de Quejo and Francisco Gordillo enslaved 60 Indians at Winyah Bay, South Carolina. Quejo, with the backing of Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, returned to the region in 1525, stopping at several locations between Amelia Island and the Chesapeake Bay. In 1526 de Ayllón led an expedition of some 600 people to the South Carolina coast. After scouting possible locations as far south as Ponce de Leon Inlet in Florida, the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape was established in the vicinity of Sapelo Sound, Georgia. Disease, hunger, cold and Indian attacks led to San Miguel being abandoned after only two months. About 150 survivors returned to Spanish settlements.  : 111–115 Dominican friars Fr. Antonio de Montesinos and Fr. Anthony de Cervantes were among the colonists. Given that at the time priests were obliged to say mass each day, it is historically safe to assert that Catholic Mass was celebrated in what is today the United States for the first time by these Dominicans, even though the specific date and location remains unclear. 
| Spanish colonization |
of the Americas
In 1527 Pánfilo de Narváez left Spain with five ships and about 600 people (including the Moroccan slave Mustafa Azemmouri) on a mission to explore and to settle the coast of the Gulf of Mexico between the existing Spanish settlements in Mexico and Florida. After storms and delays, the expedition landed near Tampa Bay on April 12, 1528, already short on supplies, with about 400 people. Confused as to the location of Tampa Bay (Milanich notes that a navigation guide used by Spanish pilots at the time placed Tampa Bay some 90 miles too far north), Narváez sent his ships in search of it while most of the expedition marched northward, supposedly to meet the ships at the bay.
Intending to find Tampa Bay, Narváez marched close to the coast, through what turned out to be a largely uninhabited territory. The expedition was forced to subsist on the rations they had brought with them until they reached the Withlacoochee River, where they finally encountered Indians. Seizing hostages, the expedition reached the Indians' village, where they found corn. Further north they were met by a chief who led them to his village on the far side of the Suwannee River. The chief, Dulchanchellin, tried to enlist the Spanish as allies against his enemies, the Apalachee.
Seizing Indians as guides, the Spaniards traveled northwest towards the Apalachee territory. Milanich suggests that the guides led the Spanish on a circuitous route through the roughest country they could find. In any case, the expedition did not find the larger Apalachee towns. By the time the expedition reached Aute, a town near the Gulf Coast, it had been under attack by Indian archers for many days. Plagued by illness, short rations, and hostile Indians, Narváez decided to sail to Mexico rather than attempt an overland march. Two hundred and forty-two men set sail on five crude rafts. All the rafts were wrecked on the Texas coast. After eight years, four survivors, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, reached New Spain (Mexico).
Hernando de Soto had been one of Francisco Pizarro's chief lieutenants in the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, and had returned to Spain a very wealthy man. He was appointed Adelantado of Florida and governor of Cuba and assembled a large expedition to 'conquer' Florida. On May 30, 1539, de Soto and his companions landed in Tampa Bay, where they found Juan Ortiz, who had been captured by the local Indians a decade earlier when he was sent ashore from a ship searching for Narváez. Ortiz passed on the Indian reports of riches, including gold, to be found in Apalachee, and de Soto set off with 550 soldiers, 200 horses, and a few priests and friars. De Soto's expedition lived off the land as it marched. De Soto followed a route further inland than that of Narváez's expedition, but the Indians remembered the earlier disruptions caused by the Spanish and were wary when not outright hostile. De Soto seized Indians to serve as guides and porters.
The expedition reached Apalachee in October and settled into the chief Apalachee town of Anhaica for the winter, where they found large quantities of stored food, but little gold or other riches. In the spring de Soto set out to the northeast, crossing what is now Georgia and South Carolina into North Carolina, then turned westward, crossed the Great Smoky Mountains into Tennessee, then marched south into Georgia. Turning westward again, the expedition crossed Alabama. They lost all of their baggage in a fight with Indians near Choctaw Bluff on the Alabama River, and spent the winter in Mississippi. In May 1541 the expedition crossed the Mississippi River and wandered through present-day Arkansas, Missouri and possibly Kansas before spending the winter in Oklahoma. In 1542 the expedition headed back to the Mississippi River, where de Soto died. Three hundred and ten survivors returned from the expedition in 1543.
Although the Spanish had lost hope of finding gold and other riches in Florida, it was seen as vital to the defense of their colonies and territories in Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1559 Tristán de Luna y Arellano left Mexico with 500 soldiers and 1,000 civilians on a mission to establish colonies at Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) and Santa Elena (Port Royal Sound). The plan was to land everybody at Ochuse, with most of the colonists marching overland to Santa Elena. A tropical storm struck five days after the fleet's arrival at the Bay of Ochuse, sinking ten of the thirteen ships along with the supplies that had not yet been unloaded. Expeditions into the interior failed to find adequate supplies of food. Most of the colony moved inland to Nanicapana, renamed Santa Cruz, where some food had been found, but it could not support the colony and the Spanish returned to Pensacola Bay. In response to a royal order to immediately occupy Santa Elena, Luna sent three small ships, but they were damaged in a storm and returned to Mexico. Angel de Villafañe replaced the discredited Luna in 1561, with orders to withdraw most of the colonists from Ochuse and occupy Santa Elena. Villafañe led 75 men to Santa Elena, but a tropical storm damaged his ships before they could land, forcing the expedition to return to Mexico.
The establishment of permanent settlements and fortifications in Florida by Spain was in response to the challenge posed by French Florida: French captain Jean Ribault led an expedition to Florida, and established Charlesfort on what is now Parris Island, South Carolina, in 1562. However, the French Wars of Religion prevented Ribault from returning to resupply the fort, and the men abandoned it.  : 196–199 Two years later, René Goulaine de Laudonnière, Ribault's lieutenant on the previous voyage, set out to found a haven for Protestant Huguenot colonists in Florida. He founded Fort Caroline at what is now Jacksonville in July 1564. Once again, however, a resupplying mission by Ribault failed to arrive, threatening the colony. Some mutineers fled Fort Caroline to engage in piracy against Spanish colonies, causing alarm among the Spanish government. Laudonnière nearly abandoned the colony in 1565, but Jean Ribault finally arrived with supplies and new settlers in August.  : 199–200
At the same time, in response to French activities, King Philip II of Spain appointed Pedro Menéndez de Avilés Adelantado of Florida, with a commission to drive non-Spanish adventurers from all of the land from Newfoundland to St. Joseph Bay (on the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico).  Menéndez de Avilés reached Florida at the same time as Ribault in 1565, and established a base at San Agustín (St. Augustine in English), the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in what is now the continental United States.  Menéndez de Avilés quickly set out to attack Fort Caroline, traveling overland from St. Augustine. At the same time, Ribault sailed from Fort Caroline, intending to attack St. Augustine from the sea. The French fleet, however, was pushed out to sea and decimated by a squall. Meanwhile, the Spanish overwhelmed the lightly defended Fort Caroline, sparing only the women and children.  : 200–202  Some 25 men were able to escape. When the Spanish returned south and found the French shipwreck survivors, Menéndez de Avilés ordered all of the Huguenots executed.  : 94 The location became known as Matanzas .  : 202
The 1565 marriage in St. Augustine between Luisa de Abrego, a free black domestic servant from Seville, and Miguel Rodríguez, a white Segovian conquistador, was the first known and recorded Christian marriage anywhere in what is now the continental United States. 
Following the expulsion of the French, the Spanish renamed Fort Caroline Fort San Mateo (Saint Matthew).  Two years later, Dominique de Gourgues recaptured the fort from the Spanish and slaughtered all of the Spanish defenders. However, he did not leave a garrison, and France would not attempt to settle in Florida again. 
To fortify St. Augustine, Spaniards (along with forced labor from the Timucuan, Guale, and Apalache peoples) built the Castillo de San Marcos beginning in 1672. The first stage of construction was completed in 1695. They also built Fort Matanzas just to the south to look for enemies arriving by sea.  In the eighteenth century, a free black population began to grow in St. Augustine, as Spanish Florida granted freedom to enslaved people fleeing the Thirteen Colonies. Fort Mose became another fort, populated by free black militiamen and their families, serving as a buffer between the Spanish and British. 
In 1549, Father Luis de Cáncer and three other Dominicans attempted the first solely missionary expedition in la Florida. Following decades of native contact with Spanish laymen who had ignored a 1537 Papal Bull which condemned slavery in no uncertain terms, the religious order's effort was abandoned after only 6 weeks with de Cancer's brutal martyrdom by Tocobaga natives. His death sent shock waves through the Dominican missionary community in New Spain for many years.
In 1566, the Spanish established the colony of Santa Elena on what is now Parris Island, South Carolina.  : 95 Juan Pardo led two expeditions (1566-1567 and 1567–1568) from Santa Elena as far as eastern Tennessee, establishing six temporary forts in interior. The Spanish abandoned Santa Elena and the surrounding area in 1587. 
In 1586, English privateer Francis Drake plundered and burned St. Augustine, including a fortification that was under construction, while returning from raiding Santo Domingo and Cartagena in the Caribbean.  : 429  His raids exposed Spain's inability to properly defend her settlements. 
The Jesuits had begun establishing missions to the Native Americans in Florida in 1567, but withdrew in 1572 after hostile encounters with the natives.  : 311 In 1573 Franciscans assumed responsibility for missions to the Native Americans, eventually operating dozens of missions to the Guale, Timucua and Apalachee tribes.  The missions were not without conflict, and the Guale first rebelled on October 4, 1597, in what is now coastal Georgia.  : 954
The extension of the mission system also provided a military strategic advantage from British troops arriving from the North.  : 311 During the hundred-plus year span of missionary expansion, disease from the Europeans had a significant impact on the natives, along with the rising power of the French and British.  During the Queen Anne's War, the British destroyed most of the missions.  By 1706, the missionaries abandoned their mission outposts and returned to St. Augustine.
Spanish Governor Pedro de Ibarra worked at establishing peace with the native cultures to the South of St. Augustine. An account is recorded of his meeting with great Indian caciques (chiefs).  Ybarra (Ibarra) in 1605 sent Álvaro Mexía, a cartographer, on a mission further South to meet and develop diplomatic ties with the Ais Indian nation, and to make a map of the region. His mission was successful.
In February 1647, the Apalachee revolted.  : 27 The revolt changed the relationship between Spanish authorities and the Apalachee. Following the revolt, Apalachee men were forced to work on public projects in St. Augustine or on Spanish-owned ranches.  In 1656, the Timucua rebelled, disrupting the Spanish missions in Florida. This also affected the ranches and food supplies for St. Augustine.
The economy of Spanish Florida diversified during the 17th century, with cattle ranching playing a major role.  Throughout the 17th century, colonists from the Carolina and Virginia colonies gradually pushed the frontier of Spanish Florida south. In the early 18th century, French settlements along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast encroached on the western borders of the Spanish claim.
Starting in 1680, Carolina colonists and their Native American allies repeatedly attacked Spanish mission villages and St. Augustine, burning missions and killing or kidnapping the Indian population. In 1702, James Moore led an army of colonists and a Native American force of Yamasee, Tallapoosa, Alabama, and other Creek warriors under the Yamasee chief Arratommakaw. The army attacked and razed the town of St. Augustine, but could not gain control of the fort. Moore in 1704 made a series of raids into the Apalachee Province of Florida, looting and destroying most of the remaining Spanish missions and killing or enslaving most of the Indian population. By 1707 the few surviving Indians had fled to Spanish St. Augustine and Pensacola, or French Mobile. Some of the Native Americans captured by Moore's army were resettled along the Savannah and the Ocmulgee rivers in Georgia.
At the end of the 17th century and early in the 18th century the Spanish attempted to block French expansion from Louisiana along the Gulf coast towards Florida. In 1696 they founded the Presidio Santa Maria de Galve on Pensacola Bay near the present-day site of Fort Barrancas at Naval Air Station Pensacola, followed by the foundation in 1701 of the Presidio Bahía San José de Valladares on St. Joseph Bay. These presidios were under the direct authority of the Viceroy of New Spain rather than the governor of Spanish Florida in St. Augustine. The French captured Bahía San José de Valladares in 1718, and Santa Maria de Galve in 1719. After losing Santa Maria de Galve, the Spanish established the Presidio Bahía San José de Nueva Asturias on St. Joseph Point in 1719, as well as a fort at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Spain regained the Pensacola Bay area from the French in 1722, and established the Presidio Isla Santa Rosa Punta de Siguenza on Santa Rosa Island, abandoning the Bahía San José site. After Isla Santa Rosa Punta de Siguenza was destroyed by a hurricane in 1752, the Spanish relocated to the Presidio San Miguel de Panzacola, which developed into the city of Pensacola. In 1718, the Spanish founded the Presidio San Marcos de Apalachee at the existing port of San Marcos, under the authority of the governor in St. Augustine. This presidio developed into the town of St. Marks. 
Some Spanish men married or had unions with Pensacola, Creek, or African women, both slave and free, and their descendants created a mixed-race population of mestizos and mulattos. The Spanish encouraged slaves from the southern colonies to come to Florida as a refuge, promising freedom in exchange for conversion to Catholicism. King Charles II of Spain issued a royal proclamation freeing all slaves who fled to Spanish Florida and accepted conversion and baptism. Most went to the area around St. Augustine, but escaped slaves also reached Pensacola. St. Augustine had mustered an all-black militia unit defending Spain as early as 1683. 
During the 18th century, the Native American peoples who would become the Seminoles began their migration to Florida, which had been largely depopulated by Carolinian and Yamasee slave raids. Carolina's power was damaged and the colony nearly destroyed during the Yamasee War of 1715–1717, after which the Native American slave trade was radically reformed.
Spanish Florida was a destination for escaped slaves from the Thirteen Colonies. The Spanish authorities offered them freedom if they converted to Catholicism and served in the colonial militia. (Some, such as those from Angola, were already Catholic.) This policy was formalized in 1693. 
In 1763, Spain traded Florida to Great Britain in exchange for control of Havana, Cuba, and Manila in the Philippines, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years' War. As Britain had defeated France in the war, it took over all of French Louisiana east of the Mississippi River, except for New Orleans. Finding this new territory too vast to govern as a single unit, Britain divided the southernmost areas into two territories separated by the Apalachicola River: East Florida (the peninsula) and West Florida (the panhandle).
Notably, most of the Spanish population departed following the signing of the treaty, with the entirety of St Augustine emigrating to Cuba. 
The British soon began an aggressive recruiting policy to attract colonists to the area, offering free land and backing for export-oriented businesses. In 1767, the British moved the northern boundary of West Florida to a line extending from the mouth of the Yazoo River east to the Chattahoochee River (32° 22′ north latitude), consisting of approximately the lower third of the present states of Mississippi and Alabama, including the valuable Natchez District. 
During this time, Creek Indians began to migrate into Florida, leading to the formation of the Seminole tribe. The aboriginal peoples of Florida had been devastated by war and disease, and it is thought most of the survivors accompanied the Spanish settlers when they left for other colonies (mostly French) in 1763. This left wide expanses of territory open to the Lower Creeks, who had been in conflict with the Upper Creeks of Alabama for years. The Seminole originally occupied the wooded areas of northern Florida. Under pressure from colonists and the United States Army in the Seminole Wars, they migrated into central and southern Florida, to the Everglades. Many of their descendants live in this area today as one of the two federally recognized Seminole tribes in the state.
Britain retained control over East Florida during the American Revolutionary War, but the Spanish, by that time allied with the French who were at war with Britain, recaptured most of West Florida. At the end of the war the Peace of Paris (1783) treaties (between the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Spain) ceded all of East and West Florida to Spanish control, though without specifying the boundaries.
Spain gained possession of West Florida and regained East Florida from Britain in the Peace of Paris of 1783, and continued the British practice of governing the Floridas as separate territories: West Florida and East Florida. When Spain acquired West Florida in 1783, the eastern British boundary was the Apalachicola River, but Spain in 1785 moved it eastward to the Suwannee River.   The purpose was to transfer San Marcos and the district of Apalachee from East Florida to West Florida.  
After American independence, the lack of specified boundaries led to a border dispute with the newly formed United States, known as the West Florida Controversy. The two 1783 treaties that ended the American Revolutionary War had differences in boundaries. The Treaty of Paris between Britain and the United States specified the boundary between West Florida and the newly independent U.S. at 31°.  However, in the companion Peace of Paris between Britain and Spain, West Florida was ceded to Spain without its boundaries being specified. The Spanish government insisted that its claim extended fully to the 1767 boundary at 32° 22′.  The British line at 32° 22′ was close to Spain's old claim of 32° 30′, which can be justified by referring to the principle of actual possession adopted by Spain and England in the 1670 Treaty of Madrid.  The now independent United States insisted that the boundary was at 31°, as specified in its Treaty of Paris with Britain.
After American independence, Spain claimed far more land than the old British West Florida, including the east side of the Mississippi River north to the Ohio and Tennessee rivers.  This expanded claim was based on Spain's successful military operations against the British in the region during the war. Spain occupied or built several forts north of the old British West Florida border, including Fort Confederación, Fort Nogales (at present-day Vicksburg), and Fort San Fernando (at present-day Memphis).   Spain tried to settle the dispute quickly, but the U.S. delayed, knowing that time was on its side.  By Pinckney's Treaty of 1795 with the United States, Spain recognized the 31st parallel as the border, ending the first West Florida Controversy. Andrew Ellicott surveyed this parallel in 1797, as the border between the United States and Spanish territories. In 1798, Ellicott reported to the government that four American generals were receiving pensions from Spain, including General James Wilkinson.
Spain, beset with independence movements in its other colonies, could not settle or adequately govern Florida by the turn of the 19th century, with real control limited to the immediate vicinity of St. Augustine, Pensacola, and a few small towns and forts scattered across the north of the territory.  Tension and hostility between Seminoles and American settlers living in neighboring Georgia and over the Florida border grew steadily. 
Though Spain officially ended its policy of welcoming people fleeing from slavery in other colonies and countries in 1790, a steady stream of such people continued to cross the unguarded border from the United States and either settled near Seminole villages or established their own small settlements.  : 9 American slaveholders sought to reclaim who they considered their property and organized increasingly frequent raiding parties that entered Spanish territory to attack Seminole villages and capture anyone who might be a refugee from slavery. British agents working in Florida provided arms and other assistance to the Seminoles, resulting in counter-raids across the border that sometimes required intervention by the US military. 
Several local insurrections and filibuster campaigns against Spanish rule flared, some with quiet support from the U.S. government, most notably the Patriot War of East Florida of 1810–1812 led by George Mathews. In 1817, a confused attack by a motley force of American and Scottish adventurers, Latin American revolutionaries, and pirates from Texas on Fernandina, temporarily claimed the whole of Amelia Island for the revolutionary republic of Mexico (not yet independent) for several months before U.S. forces retook the island and held it "in trust" for Spain until they could "properly police and govern it".  U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams called on Spain to gain control of Florida, calling the territory "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." 
The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions against the Seminoles in western Florida, most notably during an 1817–1818 semi-authorized campaign led by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War.  During the conflict, Jackson occupied Pensacola, leading to protests from Spain until it was returned to Spanish control several weeks later. By 1819, the United States effectively controlled much of the Florida panhandle, and Spain was willing to negotiate a transfer of the entire territory.  The Adams–Onís Treaty was signed between the United States and Spain on February 22, 1819, and took effect on July 17, 1821. According to the terms of the treaty, the United States acquired Florida and all Spanish claim to the Oregon Country. In exchange, the U.S. renounced all its claims to Texas and agreed to pay all Spanish debts to American citizens, which totaled about $5 million.  Before the United States took possession of Florida, hundreds of Black Seminoles and others sailed from Cape Florida to the Bahamas to avoid being returned to bondage.[ citation needed ]
The Muscogee, also known as the Mvskoke, Muscogee Creek, and the Muscogee Creek Confederacy, are a group of related Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands in the United States of America. Their historical homelands are in what now comprises southern Tennessee, much of Alabama, western Georgia and parts of northern Florida.
Queen Anne's War (1702–1713) was the second in a series of French and Indian Wars fought in North America involving the colonial empires of Great Britain, France, and Spain; it took place during the reign of Anne, Queen of Great Britain. In Europe, it is generally viewed as the American theater of the War of the Spanish Succession; in the Americas, it is more commonly viewed as a standalone conflict. It is also known as the Third Indian War. In France it was known as the Second Intercolonial War.
The history of Florida can be traced to when the first Native Americans began to inhabit the peninsula as early as 14,000 years ago. They left behind artifacts and archeological evidence. Florida's written history begins with the arrival of Europeans; the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513 made the first textual records. The state received its name from that conquistador, who called the peninsula La Pascua Florida in recognition of the verdant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called Pascua Florida.
West Florida was a region on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico that underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. As its name suggests, it was formed out of the western part of former Spanish Florida, along with lands taken from French Louisiana; Pensacola became West Florida's capital. The colony included about two thirds of what is now the Florida Panhandle, as well as parts of the modern U.S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763 to 1783 and a province of Spanish Florida from 1783 to 1821. Great Britain gained control of the long-established Spanish colony of La Florida in 1763 as part of the treaty ending the French and Indian War. Deciding that the territory was too large to administer as a single unit, Britain divided Florida into two colonies separated by the Apalachicola River: East Florida with its capital in St. Augustine and West Florida with its capital in Pensacola. East Florida was much larger and comprised the bulk of the former Spanish territory of Florida and most of the current state of Florida. It had also been the most populated region of Spanish Florida, but before control was transferred to Britain, most residents – including virtually everyone in St. Augustine – left the territory, with most migrating to Cuba.
The Apalachee were an Indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands, specifically an Indigenous people of Florida, who lived in the Florida Panhandle until the early 18th century. They lived between the Aucilla River and Ochlockonee River, at the head of Apalachee Bay, an area known as the Apalachee Province. They spoke a Muskogean language called Apalachee, which is now extinct.
Tocobaga was the name of a chiefdom, its chief, and its principal town during the 16th century. The chiefdom was centered around the northern end of Old Tampa Bay, the arm of Tampa Bay that extends between the present-day city of Tampa and northern Pinellas County. The exact location of the principal town is believed to be the archeological Safety Harbor site, which gives its name to the Safety Harbor culture, of which the Tocobaga are the most well-known group.
The Yamasees were a multiethnic confederation of Native Americans who lived in the coastal region of present-day northern coastal Georgia near the Savannah River and later in northeastern Florida. The Yamasees engaged in revolts and wars with other native groups and Europeans living in North America, specifically from Florida to North Carolina.
The maritime history of Florida describes significant past events relating to the U.S. state of Florida in areas concerning shipping, shipwrecks, and military installations and lighthouses constructed to protect or aid navigation and development of the Florida peninsula.
The history of Leon County, Florida, much like the History of Tallahassee, dates back to the settlement of the Americas. Beginning in the 16th century, the region was colonized by Europeans, becoming part of Spanish Florida. In 1819, the Adams–Onís Treaty ceded Spanish Florida, including modern-day Leon County, to the United States. Named for Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, Leon County became an official U.S. county in 1824; the American takeover led to the county's rapid expansion as growing numbers of cotton plantations began to spring up nearby, increasing Leon County's population significantly.
Mission San Luis de Apalachee was a Spanish Franciscan mission built in 1656 in the Florida Panhandle, two miles west of the present-day Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Florida. It was located in the descendent settlement of Anhaica capital of Apalachee Province. The mission was part of Spain's effort to colonize the Florida Peninsula and to convert the Timucuan and Apalachee Indians to Christianity. The mission lasted until 1704 when it was evacuated and destroyed to prevent its use by an approaching militia of Creek Indians and South Carolinians.
The Apalachee massacre was a series of raids by English colonists from the Province of Carolina and their Indian allies against a largely peaceful population of Apalachee Indians in northern Spanish Florida that took place in 1704, during Queen Anne's War. Against limited Spanish and Indian resistance, a network of missions was destroyed; most of the population either was killed or captured, fled to larger Spanish and French outposts, or voluntarily joined the English.
Beginning in the second half of the 16th century, the Kingdom of Spain established a number of missions throughout La Florida in order to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, to facilitate control of the area, and to prevent its colonization by other countries, in particular, England and France. Spanish Florida originally included much of what is now the Southeastern United States, although Spain never exercised long-term effective control over more than the northern part of what is now the State of Florida from present-day St. Augustine to the area around Tallahassee, southeastern Georgia, and some coastal settlements, such as Pensacola, Florida. A few short-lived missions were established in other locations, including Mission Santa Elena in present-day South Carolina, around the Florida peninsula, and in the interior of Georgia and Alabama.
The Chisca were a tribe of Native Americans living in present-day eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia in the 16th century, and in present-day Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, by which time they were known as Yuchi. The Hernando de Soto expedition heard of, and may have had brief contact with, the Chisca in 1540. The Juan Pardo expeditions of 1566 and 1568 encountered the Chisca, and engaged in battles with them. By early in the 17th century, Chisca people were present in several parts of Spanish Florida, engaged at various times and places in alternately friendly or hostile relations with the Spanish and the peoples of the Spanish mission system. After the capture of a fortified Chisca town by the Spanish and Apalachee in 1677, some Chisca took refuge in northern Tennessee, where they were absorbed into the Shawnee, and in Muscogee towns in Alabama. Around the turn of the 18th century some Chisca, by then generally called Yuchi, joined the Apalachicola Province towns that resettled around Ochisi Creek in central Georgia, thus becoming part of the "Lower Towns of the Muscogee Confederacy". A few Chiscas remained in western Florida into the middle of the 18th century.
British West Florida was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1763 until 1783, when it was ceded to Spain as part of the Peace of Paris.
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the Timucua language. At the time of European contact, Timucuan speakers occupied about 19,200 square miles (50,000 km2) in the present-day states of Florida and Georgia, with an estimated population of 200,000. Milanich notes that the population density calculated from those figures, 10.4 per square mile (4.0/km2) is close to the population densities calculated by other authors for the Bahamas and for Hispaniola at the time of first European contact. The territory occupied by Timucua speakers stretched from the Altamaha River and Cumberland Island in present-day Georgia as far south as Lake George in central Florida, and from the Atlantic Ocean west to the Aucilla River in the Florida Panhandle, though it reached the Gulf of Mexico at no more than a couple of points.
The indigenous peoples of Florida lived in what is now known as Florida for more than 12,000 years before the time of first contact with Europeans. However, the indigenous Floridians living east of the Apalachicola River had largely died out by the early 18th century. Some Apalachees migrated to Louisiana, where their descendants now live; some were taken to Cuba and Mexico by the Spanish in the 18th century, and a few may have been absorbed into the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes.
The siege of Pensacola included two separate attempts in 1707 by English-supported Creek Indians to capture the town and fortress of Pensacola, one of two major settlements in Spanish Florida.
The Pensacola were a Native American people who lived in the western part of what is now the Florida Panhandle and eastern Alabama for centuries before first contact with Europeans until early in the 18th century. They spoke a Muskogean language. They are the source of the name of Pensacola Bay and the city of Pensacola. They lived in the area until the mid-18th century, but were thereafter assimilated into other groups.
This is a timeline of the U.S. state of Florida.
The first capital of La Florida was founded at Santa Elena in 1566 (at present Parris Island, South Carolina) with St. Augustine serving as a separate military post.
Spain never drew a clear line to separate the two Floridas, but West Florida extended easterly to include Apalachee Bay, which Spain shifted from the jurisdiction of St. Augustine to more accessible Pensacola.
Under Spanish rule, Florida was divided by the natural separation of the Suwanee River into West Florida and East Florida.
On July 21, 1821 all of what had been West Florida was named Escambia County, after the Escambia River. It stretched from the Perdido River to the Suwanee River with its county seat at Pensacola.
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