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The Floridan Republic, or just Florida, is a sovereign state located in North America. Florida is a federation bordered by Louisiana to the west, New Orange to the north, and Haiti to the west on the island of Hispaniola.
Before the arrival of Europeans in present-day Florida, many Native American tribes inhabited the land. Notable peoples include the Mississippi, Cherokee, Muskogee, and Taino.
Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Sailing under the Spanish colors, Genoan explorer Christopher Columbus sailed to the Caribbean, landing on an island (probably in what is today the southern Lucayas) and claiming it for Spain on October 12, 1492. Columbus called the island San Salvador; which the natives called Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Lucayas this corresponds to is unresolved, but the prime candidates are San Salvador Island, Samana Cay, and Plana Cays. Not knowing that he had landed on a completely new continent, Columbus was sure that he had had reached India.
Columbus also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, where he landed on October 28th. Columbus continued to the northern coast of Hispaniola, where he landed on December 5th. On Christmas Day of 1492, after the Santa María ran aground, Columbus left 39 men and founded the settlement of La Navidad at the site of present-day Bord de Mer de Limonade, Haiti. In 1493, he set sail back to Spain.
Columbus would end up making three more voyages to the Caribbean under the Spanish colors, returning to Spain from his last voyage on November 7, 1504.
Early Spanish colonial period in the Caribbean
Spanish colonies were set up in the Caribbean in hopes of finding gold, although most of this gold would be found in present-day Mexico and South America. The first colony was the Colony of Santo Domingo (corresponding to the modern-day province of the same name), founded in 1493 by Columbus himself. The Colony of Santiago (again, corresponding to the present-day province of the same name) was founded on the island of Jamaica. A colony was established in Puerto Rico with Juan Ponce de León serving as its first Governor.
Ponce de Leon's Voyages to Mainland Florida
First VoyageRumors of undiscovered islands to the northwest of Hispaniola had reached Spain by 1511, and King Ferdinand was interested in forestalling further exploration and discovery by Diego Colón, acting Viceroy and son of Columbus. In an effort to reward Puerto Rican governor Juan Ponce de León for his services, Ferdinand urged him to seek these new lands outside the authority of Colón. Ponce de León readily agreed, and in February 1512 a royal contract was dispatched; Ponce set sail from Puerto Rico on March 4, 1513.
After leaving Puerto Rico, they sailed northwest along the great chain of the Lucaya Islands. On April 2, 1513, when they sighted land which Ponce de León believed was another island. He named it La Florida for its lush greenery and because it was the Easter season, which the Spanish called Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers). The following day they came ashore to seek information and take possession of this new land. The exact location of their landing on the Florida coast has been disputed for many years. On May 4, the fleet reached and named Santa Marta Bay, and on May 15 they sailed along the Florida Keys, looking for a passage to head north and explore the west coast of the Florida peninsula. Eventually they found a gap in the reefs and reached the Florida mainland on May 23. The precise site of their landfall is controversial.
Ponce and his crew reached the Dry Tortugas on June 21, where they captured giant sea turtles, Caribbean monk seals, and thousands of seabirds. From these islands they sailed southwest in an apparent attempt to circle around Cuba and return home to Puerto Rico. Not taking into account the powerful currents pushing them eastward, they struck the northeast shore of Cuba and were initially confused about their location. Once they regained their bearings, the fleet retraced their route east along the Florida Keys and around the Florida peninsula, reaching Gran Bajamar on July 8. From here the little fleet disbanded. Ponce de León and the rest of his crew arrived in Puerto Rico on October 19, 1513.
Second and Last Voyage
In 1521 Ponce de León organized a colonizing expedition on two ships. It consisted of some 200 men, including priests, farmers and artisans, 50 horses and other domestic animals, and farming implements. The expedition landed on the southwest coast of Florida. The colonists were soon attacked by Calusa braves and Ponce de León was injured. After this attack, he and the colonists sailed to Havana, where he soon died of the wound.
The presidio of San Agustin was founded on Florida's Atlantic coast in 1565; a series of missions were established across mainland Florida during the 1600s (attempts at missions reaching as far north as present-day Potomac, New Orange); and Pensacola was founded on the western Florida panhandle in 1698, strengthening Spanish claims to the territory.
In 1625, the Spanish lost the eastern third of Hispaniola to French conquest, which would later become Haiti. Territorial disputes were sparked between the French and Dutch as claims overlapped in the north and west.
After the independence of New Orange in 1776, and Louisiana and the West Indies in 1803, nationalism was long of the rise in the Spanish colonies. The breaking point was finally reached in the 1880s, when most Spanish colonies revolted, starting with Mexico. As La Florida and the Caribbean were populated more colonists and plantation owners than natives, present-day Florida would be one of the last colonies to revolt. The Caribbean colonies, with significant Taino populations, were more at risk of rebellion; additionally, Puerto Rico and Cuba were already known to house revolutionary activity. Cuba was the first of the Caribbean colonies to revolt, followed by Puerto Rico.
Spain, knowing that they were quickly losing their colonies and fighting a losing battle, made their last attempt to keep some kind of hold on North America. They proposed to La Florida and the Caribbean colonies a confederation of independent states. This seemed to appeal to the Caribbean colonies, as revolt had only started in two of them. The two Floridas, East and West Florida, were the first to join in the late 1880s. Anxious to have a form of self-government, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the next to join. Santiago, Trinidad, and finally Lucayas joined. Spain originally attempted to keep the sparsely-populated but rich colony of Lucayas, though despite their efforts to hold on, they became the last colony to join the new confederation. The Treaty of San Agustin was signed in the mid-1890s affirming the formation of the confederation, and is seen by many as one of the first steps to ending the Spanish American Wars of Independence.
The newly independent colonies became members of a confederation, as constituencies of the nation of Florida. Centralization would occur over the years, leading to the federal system of today.
Government & Politics
Florida is a federation composed of 8 provinces.
- Florida Oeste / West Florida (Pensacola)
- Florida Este / East Florida (San Mateo)
- Cuba (La Habana)
- Santiago (Villa de la Vega)
- Santo Domingo (Ciudad de Santo Domingo)
- Puerto Rico (San Juan)
- Trinidad (Puerto España)
- National tree - Sabal palmetto
- National reptile - Loggerhead sea turtle
- National anthem - Himno Nacional de Florida
- National fruit - Papaya
- National flower - Hedychium coronarium