State of Florida

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State of Florida
Flag of State of Florida
Coat of arms of State of Florida
Coat of arms
Location of State of Florida
Largest cityJacksonville
Official languagesEnglish
• Governor
Ron DeSantis
• Total
65,758 km²
• 2022 estimate

Florida is a state within the United States of America. Its capital is Tallahassee.

Many different indigenous peoples have lived in what is now known as Florida for more than 12,000 years before colonization. Florida's people suffered devastating effects from European diseases and settler-colonialism, as well as several wars and ethnic cleansing campaigns such as being subjected to the Indian Removal Act. Currently, the Seminole and Miccosukee are the two federally recognized tribes of Florida.

In 1821, Florida becomes a US territory, with Andrew Jackson as its first governor. When Florida became a state on March 3, 1845, the economy of the state relied on the labor of enslaved African people and the plantation system.[1] Florida was part of the Confederacy in the US Civil War and was one of the original seven Confederate States.

In response to racial segregation in Florida, a number of protests occurred in Florida during the 1950s and 1960s as part of the civil rights movement.

Florida's climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. It is the only U.S. state besides Hawaii to have a tropical climate. Florida is highly affected by the impacts of climate change, both economically and environmentally, with Floridians having to move away from the coast as sea levels rise, and Florida's coral reefs bleaching and dying as temperatures rise, in addition to algal blooms and extreme weather events impacting Florida.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Pre-colonization[edit | edit source]

Florida is part of the Southeast Culture Area of North America.

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, including the Mississippian culture which involved intensive agriculture (especially corn), large earthen mounds, and continent-wide trade connections.[1]

At the time of early contact with Europeans, there were three large cultures in Florida: the Timucua in Northeast and Central Florida, the Apalachee in the Big Bend area, and the Calusa in South Florida.

Spanish occupation[edit | edit source]

During the initial period of Spanish colonization, groups of conquistadors came into conflict with Florida natives and devastated their population through war and disease. In 1581, African slaves were brought to St. Augustine.

In 1738, the free black settlement, Fort Mose, was established.[1] Africans who had escaped from enslavement in British colonies fled southward on foot to Spanish St. Augustine, crossing swamps and dense tropical forests. Along they way, they sought assistance from Natives. Those who reached St. Augustine were granted asylum by the Spanish government, in exchange for conversion to Catholicism and, for men, a term of military service. A formerly enslaved African, Captain Francisco Menéndez, led the free black militia of Fort Mose. For years, the warriors valiantly protected St. Augustine. However, when Spain ceded all of La Florida to England in 1763, the citizens of Fort Mose once again faced enslavement. They abandoned the fort and sought safety in Spanish Cuba.[3]

In the 17th and 18th centuries, English colonists from the Province of Carolina and the Indian allies carried out several raids against the Spanish mission system, further devastating the indigenous population of Florida.

From the beginning of the 18th century, various groups of Native Americans, primarily Muscogee people (called Creeks by the English) from north of present-day Florida, moved into what is now the state. The Creek migrants included Hitchiti and Mikasuki speakers. There were also some non-Creek Yamasee and Yuchi migrants. A series of wars with the United States resulted in the death or removal to what is now Oklahoma of many of the Indian peoples who lived in Florida, and the merging of the remainder by ethnogenesis into the current Seminole and Miccosukee tribes of Florida.

U.S. occupation[edit | edit source]

In 1810, Philemon Thomas led 75 troops into Baton Rouge in West Florida (now Louisiana) and killed five Spanish soldiers. He and other rebels established the West Florida Republic and elected Fulwar Skipwith as governor. Thomas then conquered more land near the modern border of Louisiana and Mississippi, and James Madison annexed the republic 74 days after it was founded. During the War of 1812, Congress rejected Andrew Jackson's request to invade the rest of Florida with the Tennessee militia and instead sent the Army to invade Mobile. When the Red Stick movement of the Muscogee rebelled and defeated the Army, Jackson sent his militia to crush them.[4]

Settlers in Georgia increased pressure on Seminole lands, and skirmishes near the border led to the First Seminole War (1816–19). The United States purchased Florida from Spain by the Adams-Onis Treaty (1819) and took possession in 1821. The Seminole were moved out of their rich farmland in northern Florida and confined to a large reservation in the interior of the Florida peninsula by the Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823).

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 led to the Treaty of Payne's Landing (1832), which called for the relocation of all Seminole to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Some resisted, leading to the Second Seminole War, the bloodiest war against Native Americans in U.S. history. The Seminoles rose up against the settlers in 1835 and fought for 12 years, and the USA destroyed their villages and food supplies with a force of 40,000 soldiers, many of whom were also responsible for the Trail of Tears.[5] By 1842, most Seminoles and Black Seminoles, facing starvation, were removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Perhaps fewer than 200 Seminoles remained in Florida after the Third Seminole War (1855–1858), having taken refuge in the Everglades, where they never surrendered to the US.

Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, becoming one of the seven original Confederate States.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Brown v. Board of Education case that school segregation was unconstitutional. Many in the State of Florida resisted the decision, prolonging desegregation until the early 1970s. The Tallahassee bus boycott began to desegregate that city’s public transportation. One of the first public protests in what became known as the Civil Rights movement, eventually comprising numerous demonstrations and protests throughout the state to end racial segregation in places such as stores, schools, theaters, and public beaches.[1]

In 1959, the Cuban Revolution launched a wave of wealthy Cuban exiles to Florida.

In 2000, a U.S. presidential election scandal focused on Florida's courts and voting ballots.

In 2012, Florida was the site of the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford. In a widely reported trial, Zimmerman was charged with murder for Martin's death, but acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense.

A handful of high-profile mass shootings have occurred in Florida in the twenty-first century. In June 2016, a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. It is the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBT people in the United States, as well as the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks in 2001, and was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history until the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. In February 2018, 17 people were killed in a school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On June 24, 2021, a condominium in Surfside, Florida near Miami collapsed, killing at least 97 people.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Florida. “Timeline.” Florida Memory. Archived 2022-09-23.
  2. Harris, Alex. “Florida Is Already Seeing Climate Change. New Global Report Says It Could Worsen.” WUSF Public Media. February 28, 2022.
  3. “The Fort Mose Story – Fort Mose Historical Society.” Archived 2022-09-23.
  4. David Vine (2020). The United States of War: 'Invading Your Neighbors' (pp. 127–9). Oakland: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520972070 [LG]
  5. David Vine (2020). The United States of War: 'The Permanent Indian Frontier' (pp. 147–8). Oakland: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520972070 [LG]
  6. "97 dead as recovery effort at collapsed Florida condo nears end". Al Jazeera. July 16, 2021. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021.