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The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León.

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Florida attracted numerous Africans and African Americans from adjacent British colonies who sought freedom from slavery.

In 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano established Fort Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose near St.

In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561. Augustine (San Agustín) was established under the leadership of admiral and governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, creating what would become one of the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlements in the continental U. and establishing the first generation of Floridanos and the Government of Florida.

Spain maintained strategic control over the region by converting the local tribes to Christianity.

A large number of British settlers who were described as being "energetic and of good character" moved to Florida, mostly coming from South Carolina, Georgia and England.

There was also a group of settlers who came from the colony of Bermuda.This would be the first permanent English-speaking population in what is now Duval County, Baker County, St. The British built good public roads and introduced the cultivation of sugar cane, indigo and fruits as well the export of lumber.As a result of these initiatives northeastern Florida prospered economically in a way it never did under Spanish administration.By the 16th century, the earliest time for which there is a historical record, major Native American groups included the Apalachee of the Florida Panhandle, the Timucua of northern and central Florida, the Ais of the central Atlantic coast, the Tocobaga of the Tampa Bay area, the Calusa of southwest Florida and the Tequesta of the southeastern coast.Florida was the first region of the continental United States to be visited and settled by Europeans.The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times.

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