Colonial History

British Florida


Did you know that Florida was once a British colony? For 20 years, the British tried to turn Florida into a thriving colony. This episode explores the British experience in the south and discusses the role of Floridians during the American Revolutionary War.


Handfuls of History: Stories about Florida's Past

Handfuls of History: Stories about Florida's Past

Dr. Jerald T. Milanich is Curator Emeritus of Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, and one of the most respected historical archaeologists in the state.

In this book, Handfuls of History: Stories About Florida’s Past, Dr. Milanich discusses pre-Columbian Florida, Colonial Period people and events, and the nineteenth century shipwreck of the steamship City of Vera Cruz.

Dr. Milanich explores the origins of archaeology in Florida with Clarence B. Moore, and offers advice to future archaeologists.  He may even stir up some controversy as he questions the authenticity of the Miami Circle.

Written in an engaging and conversational style, Handfuls of History: Stories about Florida’s Past is accessible to the general public as well as professional historians and archaeologists.



Florida's Freedom Struggle: The Black Experience from Colonial Time to the New Millennium

Florida's Freedom Struggle: The Black Experience from Colonial Time to the New Millennium

2011 Stetson Kennedy Award Winner

Dr. Winsboro's works bring into focus one of the most disturbing yet vital issues in Florida history. To get an idea of the breadth and dimension of the race problem in Florida's complex and long history, one needs only to read this collection of important essays and accompanying analysis by Dr. Winsboro. From this collection, the reader will find an amazing transformation in attitudes and academic research of this issue. For this wide and fresh perspective, we must give a hearty thanks to Dr. Winsboro and the Florida Historical Society Press. -Dr. Joe Knetsch, Historian and Author, Tallahassee, Florida



Florida Frontiers “Luna Settlement Site Discovered”

On August 15, 1559, Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna sailed into what is now Pensacola Bay, leading a fleet of twelve ships with 1,500 colonists on board. Their effort to establish a permanent settlement was thwarted by a violent hurricane, which devastated the fleet.

One of the shipwrecks was discovered by underwater archaeologists in 1992, and another in 2006, but until recently, the terrestrial site of the attempted Luna settlement remained a mystery.

Florida Frontiers “The 450th Anniversary of St. Augustine”

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in what is now the United States.

By the time Jamestown was established and the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the people who originally founded St. Augustine were having grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded the city of St. Augustine on September 8, 1565.

Florida Frontiers “Battle of Fort Mose”

In 1738, the first legally sanctioned free black settlement was established in what would become the United States.

El Pueblo de Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, popularly known as Fort Mose, was a community of former slaves who pledged allegiance to the King of Spain, became Catholic, and agreed to defend Spanish controlled Florida from invaders.

Located just north of St. Augustine, Fort Mose was the first line of defense against attack from British colonies. 

Florida Frontiers “J.D. Sutton as William Bartram”

William Bartram fought alligators, befriended Seminoles, and meticulously documented the flora and fauna of eighteenth century Florida.

His book “Travels through North and South Carolina, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws, Containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians,” known today as “Bartram’s Travels,” is a classic work of Florida literature.

Florida Frontiers “Don Tristan de Luna”

A fleet of ships carrying 1,500 colonists sailed into what is now Pensacola Bay on August 15, 1559. The men, women, and children aboard the ships were led by Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna.

De Luna’s plan was to establish the first permanent European colony in North America. He called the settlement site Ochuse, La Florida. We call it Pensacola, Florida. The colony at Ochuse was to be the first in a series of settlements that would spread west along the gulf coast and north into the heart of the continent, securing the territory for Spain.

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