Discovery of St. Augustine

Topics: Florida, Spanish Empire, Spanish Florida Pages: 23 (9375 words) Published: June 22, 2013
May 7, 2013
St. Augustine, Discovery to Present Day

It was April in the year 1513 that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in an area between Cape Canaveral and the mouth of the St. Johns River. Over the years, archeologists have performed many “digs” at the Fountain of Youth, which is a National Archeological Park, where the village called Seloy was once occupied by the Timucuan Indians. This is where the city of St. Augustine began. Ponce de Leon arrived during the Easter season which was known as the Pascua Florida, he was on a mission of exploration and his visit to Florida was brief. Juan Ponce de Leon named this new discovery La Florida because its vegetation was lush and floral. Besides claiming and naming the land for Spain, he made a discovery that would lead to the creation of St. Augustine. As he was sailing along the coastline of Florida, Juan realized that an exceptionally strong currant was sweeping his ships northward. This was to aid in the quick return of the Spanish ships back to Spain and later was called the Gulf Stream. After exploring the coast he returned to Spain and it was in 1521 that Ponce de Leon returned to Florida with two ships and two hundred men, and with instructions to settle the land. This time he was wounded by an arrow during an Indian attack, he and his colonists immediately sailed to Cuba, where he soon died of the wound. Many men, such as Hernando do Soto, Tristan de Luna, and Cabeza de Vaca, followed Ponce de Leon to Florida and concluded that it was not worthwhile to make a major investment in settling this land. It was filled with all types of insects, and dangerous animals like snakes and alligators. There were many unavoidable problems such as heat, humidity, hurricanes and frequent dangerous thunder storms. In many parts of Florida the natives welcomed the Spanish but the war like natives would not be easily subdued. Due to the agriculture not taking hold on the coasts, it was apparent that any colonies would be dependent on Spain for help to survive. Based on these conclusions, the Spanish considered Florida risky and chose not to settle it at this time. In 1562, the French Protestants also known as Huguenots arrived in Florida. Led by Jean Ribault, they had been given a goal of establishing a colony in the New World as a possible haven. Despite the Spanish claim of a vast La Florida-- from today’s Florida to Labrador and as far westward as the King of Spain could ever imagine-- the Frenchmen established a little settlement near the mouth of the St. Johns River. Unfortunately for the French explorers, their food supply shipment never arrived. Though Timucuans happily shared their beans and squash with them, eventually the French faced starvation and mutiny. So, the Frenchman put all their efforts to building a boat and wasted no time in sailing away from Florida. In 1564, another French expedition that was better prepared and much larger. The Huguenots including women and children arrived at the earlier settlement location. Led by Rene Laudonniere, Fort Caroline was then built from the remains of the previous village. This was on the Saint Johns River, which is where Jacksonville is today. The civil war had begun in France in 1562, and one of the contributing factors was the Huguenots had become so numerous that the Roman Catholics feared they would take control of the French Government. During 1561, King Phillip II of Spain had declared that they would make no more effort to colonize Florida. It was explained to Phillip by his advisors that the arrival of the French in Florida was a trespass on Spanish territory and the French considered all Protestants heretics. More importantly, the presence of a French base there on the eastern shore of La Florida would pose a very dangerous threat to the Spanish treasure fleets returning home. Very diplomatically, the Spanish reminded Queen Catherine of France that the Pope indeed had confirmed that La Florida was the...

References: "History of Saint Augustine." St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce in Saint Augustine, FL 32084 - Chamber of Commerce. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2013.
"Juan Ponce De Leon." 2013. Biography." The Biography Channel. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2013. N.p., N.d. Web. 01 May 2013. The British Period, 1763 - 1783
"A View of the Town and Castle of St
World Book Enclopedia: F, P. 262-265. Vol. 7. Chicago, IL: World Book, 1988. Print.
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