Jacksonville Florida History
Jacksonville, Florida has a unique and interesting history. Many years before the first visit from Europeans to the mouth of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville the Timucuan Indian tribe lived throughout this densely wooded area. The Timucuan people had a distinctive culture that was developed around 500 BC. However, archaeologists are not sure where this group originally came from. Since the Timucuan tribe had no written language there is only historical evidence from the first European settlers.
Due to the tumultuous happenings in Europe during the early 16th century many travelers explored the shores of the New World. The first small group of explorers, French Huguenots, built a settlement on the south bank of the St. John River at Fort Caroline. This venture, however, was short-lived and in 1565 their settlement and fort were destroyed by the Spanish.
The Spanish had previously claimed the entire Florida peninsula and huge areas to the north. This claim was challenged by the French and therefore the Spanish were often busy defending their territory. At the site of the former Huguenots settlement, Fort Caroline, the Spanish established Fort St. Mateo. For the next 200 years, the Spanish conquerors tried to convert many of the natives to the Catholic faith. With the help of the natives, they lived off of the land.
After the end of the Seven Years War, Spain gave the British control of this vast territory so that they could keep the city of Havana. The Spanish consider the city of Havana more important to their vast New World Empire. As the Spanish left the future Jacksonville area they took all of the remaining Timucuan tribe with them.
The next few years was an active time of development under British influence. Plantations grew and land grants were issued. Lumber, cotton, rice, vegetables, and indigo were all harvested so as to expand the mighty British Navy. Finally, in 1821 Florida was established as a U.S. territory. Two settlers gave some land so as to establish a proper town and in 1822 the town was renamed Jacksonville. The name Jacksonville was in honor of the first territory provincial governor, Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson never had an opportunity to set foot in Jacksonville but he did become the 7th U.S. president.
During the Civil War Florida seceded from the Union but it remained in support of both the Confederacy and the Union. Since Jacksonville was a port city it played a huge role when the Union decided to blockade the Confederacy. During this time, Jacksonville was occupied 4 times by Union troops. Many runaways and freed slaves ended up seeking refuge in Jacksonville where they had an opportunity to begin a new life.
During the 1920s, growth continued to spread from Jacksonville center to the outlying areas. Beautiful homes and lovely parks were established along the river and the first bridge was completed. The city eventually became a key transportation hub for people who were investing in the Florida land boom.
Today, Jacksonville is a popular destination for tourists and it is home to the NFL team, Jacksonville Jaguars.