Timeline of Florida History
10,000 B.C. - A.D. 700
||Hunting and gathering Paleoindians present in Florida, as at Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota Co. and Page/Ladson Site in Jefferson Co.
||Glaciers began to melt and sea levels began to rise
||Early Archaic Period, people hunted and gathered but began to gather near wetlands
||Human burials placed under water, as at Windover Site in Brevard Co., also evidence of manufacture of cordage and fabrics
||First semi-permanent settlements in Florida
||Middle Archaic sites along St. Johns River, and along Hillsborough River north of Tampa, modern environments established
||Late Archaic, marked by shell middens on coasts and rivers
||First fired clay pottery
||Mound building, as at Crystal River Indian Mounds in Citrus Co.
||Beginning of tribes and chiefdoms eventually met by the Spaniards: Timucuans, Apalachee, Calusa, Tequesta
1497-1514 Europeans see Florida for the first time. A Spanish map of 1502 depicts a peninsula like Florida. Peter Martyr writes in 1514 of a land near the Bahamas with water of eternal youth.
1513 Juan Ponce de Leon, who first had come to the New World on the second voyage of Columbus, sights land on March 27. Between April 2 and 8, in the vicinity of present day St. Augustine, he names the land "Pascua Florida" because of its discovery "during the time of the Feast of Easter."
1516-1561 Florida is explored by Spaniards, including Ponce de Leon, Panfilo de Navarez, and Don de
Luna Y Arellano. Hernando de Soto lands in Florida on May 30, 1539, with nearly 600 men near Tampa
Bay. De Luna establishes a colony on the shores of Pensacola Bay in 1559. This settlement is
abandoned two years later and antedates by six years the founding of St. Augustine, which becomes
known as the first attempt at permanent colonization in Florida. Fray Luis Cancer de Barbastro, a
Dominican priest is killed by Indians near Tampa Bay in 1548. He is the first known churchman to die
for his faith in this country.
1564 Rene oulaine de Laudonniere of France builds a fort which he names Caroline for Charles IX, on
the St. John's River, which is known to the French as the River of May.
1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain enters a harbor which he calls San Augustin on August 28; he
captures Fort Caroline which becomes San Mateo, a Spanish outpost. He also massacres the
shipwrecked French forces of Admiral Jean Ribault on Anastasia Island. San Augustin will become
known as St. Augustine, and will be settled continuously after Menendez leaves part of his troops there
before his foray on Fort Caroline.
1566 Intensive and continuing efforts are begun by Jesuit priest to convert the Indians of the area to the
Christian faith. The mission system in Florida begins soon after the establishment of St. Augustine -
nearly 200 years before the first mission in upper California is built.
1567- 1568 Dominique de urgues of France launches an expedition to avenge the dead of Fort Caroline
and Anastasia Island. He captures San Mateo, hangs the Spanish, and returns to France.
1575 The Franciscan friars begin their missionary work in Florida.
1586 Sir Francis Drake, a British seafarer conquers and burns St. Augustine.
1600 Throughout the 17th century, although impeded by sporadic Indian outbreaks, Spanish colonization
spreads in Florida. By the 1680s, San Marcos de Apalache (St. Marks of today) is a fort and a
settlement of consequence. Pensacola is permanently resettled in 1698.
1702-1704 The British raid Spanish settlements including a 52-day siege of St. Augustine. The town is
captured but the fort is not. Governor James Moore of Carolina invades middle Florida forcing the
Spaniards and Christianized Indians to abandon the Apalachee missions. Within a few years, the mission
era of Florida comes to an end.
1719 The French capture Pensacola; however, as a result of an alliance with Spain, in order to stave off
English conquests, it is soon returned to the Spanish. The French also occupy the Gulf Coast west of
1740 The British General James Oglethorpe invades Florida from Georgia, seizing outlying forts. He lays
siege to St. Augustine for 27 days until a lack of fresh water and provisions, plus the July sun and hordes
of insects, cause him to turn away. He does free the 1500 soldiers and townspeople crowded in the
Castillo de San Marcos
1763 Spain ransoms Havana from the British with Florida. The British find St. Augustine to be a city
with about 342 dwellings, Pensacola to have grown slightly beyond the original settlement, and the fort
and town of San Marcos de Apalache at the head of the Gulf. The remainder is wilderness and efforts
are made by the British to attract investors and settlers.
1781 The Spanish capture Pensacola from the British.
1783 The British return Florida to Spain. Numerous people, many of whom have fled the American
Colonies during the Revolution, leave Florida for the Bahamas and the West Indies. Florida's first
newspaper, The East Florida Gazette, is published at St. Augustine by Williams Charles Wells. He rushes
out an "extra" to proclaim the British defeat in the Revolutionary War.
1785-1821 Numerous Spanish-American border disputes occur. Encouraged by the Americans, a
republic is proclaimed in northeastern Florida in 1812 by "patriots" who run up their own flag over
1813 Andrew Jackson captures Pensacola which has been used as a base of Gulf operations by the
British against the Americans.
1816 A red-hot cannon ball explodes the magazine of an abandoned British fort on the Apalachicola
River, occupied by free and runaway Negro slaves and kills nearly 300. This is a result of Americans
seeking to stop Spanish forays upon boats supplying American troops and settlers in Spanish territory.
1817-1819 Gregor MacGregor, a Scotch soldier of fortune, captures Fernandina, menaces St.
Augustine, and leaves his lieutenants to resist an attack by the Spanish and volunteer American forces on
Amelia Island. MacGregor is replaced by Luis Aury, who declares himself a Mexican, annexes Amelia
Island to Mexico, and flies the Mexican flag. American forces evict him in December 1817, without
bloodshed, and hold the area until yellow fever causes their withdrawal in 1819.
1818 During the first Seminole War, Andrew Jackson campaigns against the Indians and outlaws
Negroes from Pensacola to the Suwannee. He also executes two British citizens whom he accuses of
inciting the Indians of the region against the United States.
1819 American Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish Minister Luis de Onis reach an
agreement finally ratified by both nations in 1821, by which Spain gives the United States title to East and
West Florida. The United States relinquishes its claims to Texas, and Spain assigns its rights in the
Pacific Northwest to the U.S., leaving ownership of the Oregon Territory to be settled among the United
States, Russia, and Great Britain. The United States pays about $4.1 million to Americans in Florida
holding claims against Spain.
1821 Andrew Jackson receives the Floridas from Spanish authorities at Pensacola on July 17. He leaves
Florida in October and resigns as U.S. Commissioner and Governor of the territories of East and West
Florida in November from his home in Tennessee.
1822 The unified government of Florida is established on March 30,1822, when President James Monroe
the Congressional Act providing for a Governor and a Legislative Council of 13 citizens. William P.
Duval from Kentucky, a Virginian by birth, becomes the first Territorial Governor.
1824 On March 4, Governor Duval proclaims the site of present day Tallahassee to be the seat of the
new territory. The Legislative Council meets there in November in a log house erected in the vicinity of
1825 The Marquis de Lafayette is granted $200,000 and a township of land anywhere in the unsold
public domain in recognition by Congress of his Revolutionary War services. He accepts a township
adjacent to Tallahassee in the Territory of Florida. Lafayette never comes to his land, but initiates its
settlement in 1831 by a short-lived colony of about 60 Norman peasants who attempt to cultivate
vineyards, olive groves, and mulberry trees for feeding silk worms.
1834-1837 Florida's first railroads begin operation. The Tallahassee-St. Marks is the first to be
incorporated on April 10,1834; however, the b St. Joseph-Lake Wimico line is the first to be in service on
April 14, 1836.
1835-1837 With the beginning of the Second Seminole War, Major Francis L Dade and two companies
of U.S. Army troops are ambushed and massacred. In 1837 the Indian leader Osceola is imprisoned
after entering an American camp under a flag of truce.
1837-1840 General Zachary Taylor, future president of the United States, commands forces against the
Seminoles. His battle on the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee on Christmas Day in 1837 is considered
the last organized encounter with the Seminoles
1838 A convention held at St. Joseph drafts a Constitution in anticipation of early statehood.
1842 The Second Seminole War ends with 3,824 Indians and Negroes relocated to Arkansas. The cost
of the war to the Federal government, beyond the expense of the regular army, is placed at $20 million.
While 1,500 soldiers are wounded or contract disease, no estimate of civilian casualties is made.
1845 On March 3, the last day of his administration, President John Tyler signs into law the act granting
statehood to Florida's 57,921 inhabitants. William D. Moseley, a Jefferson County planter and a North
Carolinian who had lived in Florida only six years, becomes the state's first governor. David Levy Yulee,
a native of St. Thomas in the West Indies and of a Portuguese Jewish family, is elected the first
representative to Congress. However, before going to Washington, he is selected by the General
Assembly as Florida's first U.S. Senator, which with the exception of a four-week interruption, he
continues to be until secession.
1851 Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola patents the process of making ice artificially, a process he had
developed in 1845 to cool the rooms of his feverish patients. He dies in 1855 with little recognition;
however, today his statue stands in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
1855 The General Assembly passes the first Internal Improvement Act which uses swamp and other
land ceded by the Federal movement to the state to furnish incentives for a statewide railroad and canal
1855-1858 The Third Seminole War takes place.
1860 The Legislature, meeting after Abraham Lincoln's election as president, passes an Act for a
Constitutional Convention to meet in Tallahassee and appropriates $100,000 for outfitting state troops.
The Florida Railroad, the first cross state line, links Fernandina on the East Coast with Cedar Key on the
1861 Florida withdraws from the Union on January 10. State troops occupy Chattahoochee Arsenal,
Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, Fort Marion at St. Augustine, and Fort Barrancas at Pensacola. Federal
authorities hold Fort Taylor at Key West
Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, and Fort Pickens at Pensacola.
1861-1865 Florida furnishes salt beef, and bacon to the armies of the Confederacy. The voting
population of Florida is 14,374 in 1860 which gives greater significance to the fact that more than 16,000
Floridians serve in the Civil War 15,000 in the Confederate army and 1,290 in the Union forces. Of those
the Confederate armies, 6,700 serve for the entire war or until disabled or killed. Florida troops are
represented in all principal battles and more than 1,000 are killed in action. At least 5,000 Florida soldiers
are dead by the spring of 1865.
1864 The Confederates defeat the Union army at Olustee and save the interior supply lines from
Florida. This confines the Union troops, to the coast.
1865 Home Guards and Cadets from the West Florida Seminary save Tallahassee from capture by
turning back invading Federal troops at the Battle of Natural Bridge. The war ends with Tallahassee as
the only Confederate state capital east of Mississippi to escape being captured. Federal troops do occupy
Tallahassee on May 10 and the American flag once more flies over the Capitol on May 20. A
Constitutional Convention convenes on October 25. It annuls the Ordinance of Secession and decrees
the end of slavery; however, the right to vote is restricted to "free" white male persons of 21 years old or
1868 A faction-torn Convention submits a new Constitution which the voters approve in May. It grants
equal suffrage to all races. Civil government is resumed with an end to military rule on July 4.
1876 Florida's electoral votes, cast amid charges of fraud, give the winning margin for the U.S.
Presidency to Rutherford B. Hayes. Democrats regain control of state offices and put an end to the
carpetbag rule as Federal troops are withdrawn in 1877.
1881 Hamilton Disston, Philadelphia saw industrialist, buys four million acres of the Everglades at 25
cents an acre to free the
|Internal Improvement Fund of debt and open the way for
development of much of peninsular Florida.
1884 The first train of the new Plant System, created from short-lines in south Florida by Henry B.
Plant, rumbles into Tampa to produce the agricultural and industrial awakening of the West Coast.
1885 A Constitutional Convention of 56 days broaden people's share in their government. Cabinet posts
are made electives, as are those of justice of the Supreme Court and all county offices except county
commissioner. A State Board of Education is created and the establishment of normal schools is
1886 Requiring a railroad adequate to serve a great hotel he has built at St. Augustine, Henry M. Flagler
buys the first transportation link in the chain of railroad and hotel properties he builds down the East
Coast to Key West.
1888 The first commercial shipment of phosphate is made from
the Peace River Valley, where the mineral had been discovered in 1881.
1889 A yellow fever epidemic results in the creation of the State Board of Health.
1890 The National Convention of Farmers' Alliance, a predecessor of the Populist Party, is held in
Ocala. Their radical demands include the abolition of national banks, unlimited coinage of silver, a
graduated income tax and the direct election of senators.
1894-1899 Repeated frosts kill much citrus and send the industry southward.
1898 The Spanish-American War creates embarkation camps at Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville with
thousands of soldiers and others who visit the state returning afterwards either as tourists or residents.
1901 A primary election law is enacted to displace the convention system of nominating candidates for
1905 The Buckman Act consolidates state institutions of higher learning into three: The University of
Florida at Gainesville, Florida State College for Women at Tallahassee and the Florida Agricultural and
Mechanical College for Negroes at Tallahassee. The Legislature also creates the Everglades Drainage
District of 7500 square miles to reclaim water-burdened land for agriculture and cattle raising. An
automobile registration law is enacted with 296 registering the first two years.
1911 The first night flight in aviation history is made by Lincoln Beachey over Tampa.
1913 Governor Trammell sponsors the first corrupt practices law to reduce the legal cost of seeking
public office. The law allows the expenditure of $4000 by candidates for the U.S. Senate and for
governor $3500 for cabinet positions.
1914 The world's first scheduled airline service with pilot Antony Jannus begins service from St.
Petersburg to Tampa on January 1.
1915 The first legal steps are taken toward establishment of a state constructed and maintained system
of highways a governmental function left previously to local agencies but requiring emergency measures
because of rapid development of automobile and tourist traffic.
1917-1918 Florida is the scene of training for World War I fighting men particularly aviators as weather
permits year-round activity.
1922 WDAE Tampa is licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on May 15 1922 to the Tampa
Publishing Company and goes on the air as Florida's first licensed broadcast radio station.
1924-1925 With a large influx of visitors many of whom remain as residents a huge land boom occurs.
Inestimable sums are spent by public and private agencies for internal improvements as scores of new
cities are established.
1925 The Miami Herald has the largest advertising lineage of any newspaper in the United States 42.5
million lines in contrast to 33.3 million by its nearest competitor.
1926 A hurricane devastates the Miami area taking nearly 200 lives. A constitutional amendment
broadens the power of the Legislature to appropriate money for schools.
1927 The State Board of Public Welfare is created. Large-scale growing and milling of sugar begins in
the Everglades at Clewiston.
1928 Water driven from Lake Okeechobee by a hurricane causes the drowning of some 1500 persons.
1929 First commercial airline flights between Key West and Havana become forerunners of
Latin-American operations of Pan American World Airways from Miami.
1933 In an attempt to assassinate President-elect Roosevelt in Bayfront Park in Miami, Guiseppi
Zangara fatally wounds Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago. Zangara is put to death in Raiford Prison's
electric chair. The sale of beer is legalized. The first New Deal agency in Florida the Civilian
Conservation Corps begins operation.
1934 A constitutional amendment exempts homesteads from taxation up to $5000 valuation except for
payment of bonds previously issued.
1935 A storm sweeps a mid-section of the Florida Keys and kills nearly 400 persons including some 200
veterans of World War 1.
1937 The Poll Tax is abolished as a prerequisite to voting.
1939 The Highway Patrol to be financed from the sale of driver licenses is established.
1940 The ad valorem tax for state purposes is abolished.
1941-1945 Florida expands with World War II industry as it becomes a training ground for tens of
thousands of men and women of the armed forces at camps like Camp Blanding and Camp Gordon
Johnston and as it forges vessels and tools for the conflict. Tourist hotels and restaurants at Miami
Beach, Daytona Beach, St. Petersburg and other resort centers afford quick means for accommodating