Seaports of the World
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The Florida coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico was very different 12,000 years ago. Because the sea level was lower, the Florida peninsula was more than twice as large as it is now. The people who inhabited Florida at that time were hunters and gatherers, who only rarely sought big game for food. These first Floridians settled in areas where a steady water supply, good stone resources for tool making, and firewood were available. Over the centuries, these native people developed complex cultures. During the period prior to contact with Europeans, native societies of the peninsula developed cultivated agriculture, traded with other groups in what is now the southeastern United States, and increased their social organization, reflected in large temple mounds and village complexes.
The mainland of the North American continent was first sighted by the Spanish explorer and treasure hunter Don Juan Ponce de Leon on Easter, March 27, 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning "Land of Flowers".
Between 1513 and 1563 the government of Spain launched six expeditions to settle Florida, but all failed. The French succeeded in establishing a fort and colony on the St. Johns River in 1564.
Written records about life in Florida began with the arrival of the Spanish explorer and adventurer Juan Ponce de León in 1513. Sometime between April 2 and April 8, Ponce de León waded ashore on the northeast coast of Florida, possibly near present-day St. Augustine. He called the area la Florida, in honor of Pascua Florida ("feast of the flowers"), Spain’s Easter time celebration. Other Europeans may have reached Florida earlier, but no firm evidence of such achievement has been found.
Britain gained control of Florida in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured from Spain during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). Spain evacuated Florida after the exchange, leaving the province virtually empty. At that time, St. Augustine was still a garrison community with fewer than five hundred houses, and Pensacola also was a small military town.
The British first split Florida into two parts: East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine; and West Florida, with its seat at Pensacola. British surveyors mapped much of the landscape and coastline and tried to develop relations with a group of Indian people who were moving into the area from the North. The British called these people of Creek Indian descent Seminolies, or Seminoles. Britain attempted to attract white settlers by offering land on which to settle and help for those who produced products for export. Given enough time, this plan might have converted Florida into a flourishing colony, but British rule lasted only twenty years.
The two Floridas remained loyal to Great Britain throughout the War for American Independence (1776–83). However, Spain—participating indirectly in the war as an ally of France—captured Pensacola from the British in 1781. In 1784 it regained control of the rest of Florida as part of the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution.
When the British evacuated Florida, Spanish colonists as well as settlers from the newly formed United States came pouring in. Many of the new residents were lured by favorable Spanish terms for acquiring property, called land grants. Others who came were escaped slaves, trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters had no authority and effectively could not reach them. Instead of becoming more Spanish, the two Floridas increasingly became more "American."
by 1817, conflicts between the Seminoles and white settlers were escalating and turned into the first of three wars against the United States. Andrew Jackson (before his U.S. presidency) invaded what was then "Spanish Florida," attacked several key locations and pushed the Seminoles further south into Florida.
After several official and unofficial U.S. military expeditions into the territory, Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, according to terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty.
In 1830, the U.S. government attempted to relocate Seminoles to Oklahoma, causing yet another war. When Seminole leader Osceola was captured by the U.S. in 1837, U.S. troops said they wanted to talk about truce. After decades of strife, 200 to 300 Seminoles remained hidden in Florida's swamps.
Belmont Gazette, March 22, 1837
The last news from the South, is of such a character, as to leave but little doubt that the Seminole campaign has at last been brought to a close. Oseola has surrendered himself to Gen. Jesup, together with three hundred warriors. The great chief, says the account, formed his men into line -- leaned himself against a tree-and when the U.S. officer who was despatched to receive him came up, he approached him, and gave up his rifle, with all the grace of a fallen hero.
As a territory of the United States, Florida was particularly attractive to people from the older Southern plantation areas of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who arrived in considerable numbers. After territorial status was granted, the two Floridas were merged into one entity with a new capital city in Tallahassee. Established in 1824, Tallahassee was chosen because it was halfway between the existing governmental centers of St. Augustine and Pensacola.
By 1840 white Floridians were concentrating on developing the territory and gaining statehood. The population had reached 54,477 people, with African American slaves making up almost one-half of the population. Steamboat navigation was well established on the Apalachicola and St. Johns Rivers, and railroads were planned.
On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the United States.
By 1848, slavery began to dominate the affairs of the new state.
September 19, 1859, Monday, Racine Daily Journal
The Slave Trade in Florida
The St Augustine, Florida, Examiner, of August 20th, contains, an article in which it states that the slave trade in that portion of the United States is unusually flourishing.— It says that the traffic is mostly carried on by vessels from Northern ports, and sailed by Northern men. It also publishes, with unblushing effrontery, a copy of an agreement (the original of which it has in its possession) entered into between a Capt. Wickham, of the brig Favorite, of Rhode Island, and a slave trading firm—Lewis & Boyd—of Cape Coast Castle, Africa, in which they agree to take in exchange for some $7,000 worth of rum, tobacco, cordage, etc, "eighty fair and merchantable negroes," from four feet four and upwards in height, and "in the customary proportion of two-thirds males and one-third females." It further appears that the negroes, per contract, were shipped on board the Favorite, and that they were "landed in the United States, and no mistake." The locality is not mentioned; but the Captain is, perhaps, the man from whom our Florida contemporary obtained the copy of the contract and a view of the ship's outward invoice.
According to this article, the trade must be a very profitable one. And here consists the great danger that this nefarious and inhuman traffic will be revived. Allowing that the slaver landed but fifty negroes, at five hundred dollars each, the profit on the cargo would be as follows.
|50 negroes at $500 each|| |
|Outlay in cargo-rum, gin, etc.|| |
|Contingent expenses, say|| |
According to this—and it is a very low estimate—the slaver could afford to destroy his vessel after landing his cargo, purchase another and fit her out. But no doubt in most cases from two hundred and fifty to three hundred negroes are landed from one vessel, making the gross proceeds one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
This slave trading is like smuggling. The higher the duties, the more smuggling.— The greater demand for negroes, caused by the extension of slave territory, the more slaves from Africa. The passage of the Nebraska Bill has done more to increase the trade than any one thing beside.
American Settler, June 23, 1888
London, United Kingdom
The Charlotte Harbor Beacon gives the ensuing half a dozen reasons why immigrants should go to Florida :—
The city of Fort Lauderdale is named for a fortification built during the Second Seminole War on the banks of the New River. In 1838 Major William Lauderdale led a detachment of Tennessee Volunteers south along the east coast of Florida to capture Seminole agricultural lands and battle the elusive Indian warriors. Altogether, three Forts Lauderdale would be constructed: the first at the fork of the New River; the second at Tarpon Bend; and the third and largest on the beach, at the site of today’s Bahia Mar.
After the Second Seminole War ended, southeastern Florida remained a virtual wilderness due to the lack of transportation into the region. In 1892, however, the Dade County government authorized the construction of a rock road between Lantana (in Palm Beach County) and Lemon City (now North Miami). An overnight camp and ferry crossing was established at the New River, and Ohio native Frank Stranahan arrived to take charge of the facilities. He established a flourishing trading post with the local Seminoles, and by 1895 Stranahan’s Trading Post was a south Florida landmark.
In 1896 the Florida East Coast Railway reached southward to Fort Lauderdale, providing rapid transportation to south Florida from all parts of the nation. The little village increased in size and was incorporated in 1911 as the City of Fort Lauderdale. In 1915 Broward County was created out of parts of Dade and Palm Beach counties.
City of Key West - Its Harbor, Steamship Lines and Population-Dusty and Muddy Streets-Buildings, Restaurants and Postal Service=The Marine Hospital and Fort Taylor-Its Cigar and Sponge Industries-Provisions and How to Buy them.
TO THE HERALD AND TORCH: The city of Key West, or rather the citizens, think that their city has a great future in store for it, and they lose no opportunity to boast of its many advantages as a winter resort for people from the North. It may have a few advantages in this line over some other Southern cities, but it is by no means a paradise on earth. A great many things are yet needed to make Key West anything like a model winter resort. I shall endeavor to describe it to you just as it is—not as it appears in photographs, or in illustrated newspapers devoted to attracting Northern gold to this would-be fashionable winter resort.
KEY WEST, ITS HARBOR AND SHIP LINES.
The city of Key West is situated on the island of Key West, which has an area of two thousand acres. Vessels approaching Key West from the Gulf, if they draw more than twelve feet, use the main ship channel, if they draw less than twelve feet they take the northwest passage. Large vessels from the Atlantic always approach the city from Southward of the Keys. Considering the natural formation of the ocean bed al this point, it may be said that Key West has a good and spacious harbor. The water is deep and it is protected on all sides by reefs and keys. There is a tide current running through it which makes it dangerous for shipping when a strong wind blows against the current. The Government has two wharves in the harbor, one for the navy and one for the light house department.
Three lines of steamers touch at Key West. The Mallory Line, which runs three splendidly fitted steamers plying between New York and Galveston, stops here for freight and passengers. Two beautiful steamers, the Mascotte and Olivette of the Plant Line plying between Tampa and Havana, touch here twice a week. The Morgan line steamers between Now Orleans and Havana also touch here.
The city claims a population of 22,000. The census of 1830 made it 9,800. This population is composed of four classes. The best established is the native American made up of Americans who have come here either in a spirit of adventure to make their fortune or in search of health, the climate being supposed to be very beneficial to people suffering from consumption, or any other lung or throat trouble. The ''Conch" element is from the Bahamas, where on account of the abundance of shells of that name, the inhabitants have received the name of Conchs. Some of them have become quite wealthy in business since their residence here. The Cubans form a third element. The greater part of these were driven from Cuba during the revolution of 1869. The wealthy Cubans own and operate cigar factories, while the poorer work for the rich. The fourth element is the Negro. Such a mixture of race, and nationalities does not make up a very desirable city population. You hardly feel that you are in your own country, when you pass along the streets of this city.
THE CIGAR INDUSTRY
The manufacture of cigars is the principal industry of the city, millions of them being shipped from here yearly. The industry sprang up in 1830, but owing to poor mail and shipping facilities, it languished. After the revolution of 1869 and the great influx of Cubans, the industry received a new impetus, until to-day it is the second cigar manufacturing city in the world and bids fair to become the first. The material used is pure Havana tobacco. Each firm has its agent in Havana, who keeps a watchful eye upon the crops and warehouses and selects the tobacco for his firm. It is quite a sight to go into one of these cigar factories where there are several hundred men at work, all Cubans, some picking, some stripping, others rolling cigars and one reading to the rest. I am told that without the reader not nearly go much work would be done. It keeps them in good spirits and prevents them becoming dissatisfied with the work. Each man must make at least fifty cigars per day, or he receives no pay. Each roller has a daily allowance of cigars for his own smoking, or in case he does not smoke, to sell. A good cigar maker will roll 600 cigars per day and, if he works regularly, will earn from thirty to forty dollars per week. When once started, the cigar business is a lucrative one and more than one man in Key West as made his fortune at it. There are something like three hundred factories in the city. The buildings are usually long frame structures, three stories high and uninviting in appearance. Some factories have tenement houses attached for the use of the employees. One large factory is a complete town to itself, having stores, shops and everything going to make up a village. Mr. Gato, a city millionaire, is contemplating e the erection of an enormous brick cigar factory to eclipse anything the city now contains. Cigars are naturally somewhat cheaper here than elsewhere, costing from $5 to $6.00 per hundred for a good cigar. For the same money you get a much more finely flavored cigar than in any place that I have ever been.
THE SPONGE INDUSTRY
Another important industry is the sponge trade. Small schooners and sloops fit out at Key West and cruise among the Keys, more particularly a few miles from Bamboo Key, and around the edges of the shoals where the water is not more than, one or two fathoms deep and gather the sponges from the rocks. When the water is too deep for the sponges to be seen easily from the surface, they have an arrangement which looks like a bucket with a glass bottom, which they put upon the surface of the water. Putting their heads into this they are enabled, by excluding the light, to see the bottom and to select the sponges. They bring them to the surface by means of an iron rake fastened to the end of a long pole. After being brought up, they are put into a space of water enclosed by stakes, to prevent the sponges from drifting away, where they are allowed to remain until the fleshy portion is decayed. They are then beaten to remove the decayed matter, dried in the sun and bleached—some until they become quite white, when they are known as the wool sponges of commerce; others remain yellow and form the ordinary sponge with which everybody is more or less familiar. Key Westers claim that the sponge industry brings them in a revenue of $1,000,000 annually, which statement I am prone to question.
Since I have been here I have heard rumors of oysters and clams being caught here; but I have hitherto failed to see any. Further up the coast, at Cedar Keys, they seem to be abundant. In one thing at least the city of Key West is unique—its custom of conducting market on the auction plan. If one wants to buy provisions, one must go to the auction room and stand around and bid like at any ordinary public sale. And such provisions! Key West or Florida beef is something appalling for toughness and chickens are no better. Once a week, when the New York steamer arrives with Northern beef, one can get something to chow upon not so closely akin to leather. If we happen to miss getting a supply from the New York steamer, we often fall back upon salt provisions in preference to tackling the city beef. Everything in Key West is expensive, as it must be brought from the North. The city has a company of toy soldiers and a fire brigade, which recently took the state prize in a drill contest at Ocala. I might say many more things about this place—sometimes something good, but more often something bad; but my letter has grown to a considerable length and so without another word I close.
As a result of this incursion into Florida, King Phillip II named Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Spain's most experienced admiral, as governor of Florida, instructing him to explore and to colonize the territory. Menendez was also instructed to drive out any pirates or settlers from other nations, should they be found there. Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida on August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine. Eleven days later, he and his 600 soldiers and settlers came ashore at the site of the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy. He fortified the fledgling village and named it St. Augustine.
Menendez destroyed the French garrison on the St. Johns River and, with the help of a hurricane, also defeated the French fleet.
Thus, St. Augustine was founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts - making it the oldest permanent European settlement on the North American continent.
In 1586, English corsair Sir Francis Drake attacked and burned the town.
Then in 1668, the pirate Captain John Davis plundered the town, killing sixty inhabitants. After the British established colonies in Georgia and the Carolinas, Spain authorized the building of a stone fort to protect St. Augustine as assaults from the north became more frequent. It was not until 1763 that Spain ceded Florida to England in order to regain the capital of Cuba, ushering in twenty years of British rule in Florida.
In 1783, under the Treaty of Paris, Florida was returned to Spanish rule for a period of 37 years. Then Spain sold Florida to the United States of America and US troops took possession on July 10, 1821.
Soon after the American occupation, St. Augustine suffered a series of setbacks. In 1821, a yellow ever epidemic brought death to many newcomers. The town had finally begun to prosper when the American Civil War broke out. Although Florida had seceded with the rest of the Confederacy, St. Augustine was occupied by Union troops throughout most of the conflict. When the war ended in 1865, the town was three centuries old.
Atlanta Constitution, April 29, 1888
The hotel takes first rank as a developing agent. It was Thomasville's hotels (in Atlanta, Georgia) that gave that city its precedence over its neighbors, and yields it its rich winter revenues. It is the superb Oglethorpe that is building Brunswick up. The "Inn" gives Anniston its boom, and the "Tavern" establishes Decatur as the best of north Alabama towns.
The most remarkable case of the effect of a hotel on a section, and indeed of hotel building, is the enterprise of Mr. Henry M. Flagler (co founder of Standard Oil) at St. Augustine. The rivalry between California and Florida had come to a crisis with the opening of last season. The "drift," which in this leisurely and fashionable travel means everything, had set towards the west, and the season of 18S7 was disastrous to Florida. Mr. Flager's amazing enterprise drew attention once more to the land of flowers. The tide of travel changed, and Florida has beaten California signally and for good. The rush of travel to St. Augustine next winter will be unprecedented in the history of pleasure seeking and sight seeing.
Florida needs but to be seen to be appreciated for her own fair sake. Mr. Flagler, in attracting visitors, has simply given the wonderful state a chance to show its manifold beauties and advantages. The result will be increased immigration and investment. Mr. Flagler himself predicts that in a few years Florida will be one of the most important agricultural states in the union. When this is accomplished, it will be strange and yet not strange, that a great hotel has been perhaps the most important element in the advancement and rehabilitation of the state.
The Hotel Ponce de Leon was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style by the New York architects John Carrère and Thomas Hastings, and was constructed entirely of poured concrete, using the local coquina stone as aggregate. The hotel also was wired for electricity at the onset, with the power being supplied by D.C. generators supplied by Flagler's friend, Thomas Edison.