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Bill Thayer

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History of Florida

Histories and Source Documents

The early history of Florida, as might be expected of an L‑shaped region, is in fact the history of two sub-regions: East Florida down the Atlantic coast; and westward along the northern Gulf coast the panhandle of West Florida, closely tied to the history of Louisiana. Those two historical lines will coalesce only in the period between statehood in 1845 and the War between the States.

At some point I hope to have a general history of Florida onsite; for now, the following particular aspects:

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West Florida — a slice of land now comprising about half the Florida panhandle, plus the coastal counties of Alabama and Mississippi, and the eight "Florida parishes" of Louisiana, with its capital at Pensacola — has long been strategically important, and it therefore has a special place in American history, from the 16c thru to the War between the States. Onsite, a book on the Republic of West Florida is joined by coverage of the area in Gayarré's History of Louisiana and a number of journal articles.

[ 9/11/10: about 300 pages of print, 4 maps ]

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The Seminole Wars were at the time the most important Indian wars being fought, costing the young American republic millions of dollars and about two thousand dead: proportionally to its population, a toll about equal to that of the Vietnam War, another tropical guerrilla war with which it had points in common. [Some primary sources]

[ 9/22/10: 68 pages of print presented in 5 webpages ]

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Chapter 8 of Francis Beirne's The War of 1812 will be of interest to some, exploring the underside of just how the United States came to acquire Florida.

[ 6/25/13: 6 pages of print presented in 1 webpage ]

[image ALT: A close-up of a collection of papers spread out on a table. It is the icon used on this site to represent my American History Notes subsite.]

Squirreled away in the American History Notes section of the site, other Florida material, consisting for now of the following articles, in as chronological order as possible:

Jesuit Martyrs in Florida

The Origin of Genet's Projected Attack on Louisiana and the Floridas

The Establishment of Fort Brooke

Florida's Great Seal

Florida against Georgia (19c boundary dispute)

Florida, Iowa, and the National "Balance of Power," 1845

The Story of Captain John C. Casey

— and five more articles on the history of West Florida, Pensacola and St. John, are linked on the West Florida page.

[ 5/30/14: 94 pages of print presented in 7 webpages ]

[image ALT: A circular seal, surrounded by the legend 'GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA • IN GOD WE TRUST', in which the very busy center includes a tree, a body of water, a steamboat, a Seminole Indian and other figures. It is the seal of the Commonwealth of Florida.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is of course the seal of the Commonwealth of Florida (discussed in one of the articles onsite), which is the central device on her flag; for the full flag — and 22 other flags from Florida's rich history! — see Flags of Florida (brought to us by the Florida Department of State).

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Site updated: 1 Mar 18