History of Florida
The History of Florida stretches from the Spanish discoveries to the 21st century.
Spain established a few small settlements in Florida, most of which were soon abandoned. The most important settlement was at St. Augustine, founded in 1565. It was never more than a fortress, and was repeatedly attacked and burned, with most residents killed or fled. Missionaries converted 26.000 natives by 1655, but a revolt in 1656 and an epidemic in 1659 proved devastating. Pirate attacks were unrelenting against small outposts and even St Augustine. The British and their colonies made war repeatedly. South Carolina launched large scale invasions in 1702 and 1704, which effectively destroyed the Spanish mission system. St Augustine survived, but English-allied Indians such as the Yamasee conducted slave raids throughout Florida, killing or enslaving most of the region's natives. St Augustine itself was captured in 1740. The British and Spanish had been enemies for many decades. The conflicts in Spanish Florida were one part of a larger, global struggle. In the mid-1700s, invading Seminoles killed off most of the remaining local Indians. Florida had about 3000 Spaniards when Britain took control 1763. Nearly all Spaniards quickly left and only a few Britons moved in. Even though in 1783 control was restored to Spain, Spain sent no more settlers or missionaries, and the region was in practice ungoverned and destination of runaway slaves. The US took control in 1819.
Prohibition had been popular in north Florida, and was opposed in the south, which became a haven for speakeasies and run-runners in the 1920s. During 1928-32 a broad coalition of judges, lawyers, politicians, journalists, brewers, hoteliers, retailers, and ordinary wet Floridians came together around the idea of repealing the ban on alcohol. When the federal government legalized near beer and light wine in 1933, the wet coalition launched a successful campaign to legalize these beverages at the state level. Floridians subsequently joined in the national campaign to repeal the 18th Amendment, which succeeded in December 1933. The following November, state voters repealed Florida's constitutional ban on liquor and gave local governments the power to legalize or outlaw alcoholic beverages.
- John J. Guthrie, Jr., "Rekindling The Spirits: From National Prohibition to Local Option in Florida: 1928-1935," Florida Historical Quarterly 1995 74(1): 23-39. 0015-4113