Ten facts you might not know about the Sunshine State’s history

History: Palm Beach, Florida, 1929 – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Everett Collection

It is a simple question asked in school: How many original colonies were there? One can assume you guessed 13, right?

The correct answer is 14, and the number 14 is Florida. We don’t speak much about it because while the other 13 colonies fought for their own independence from Britain, Florida maintained its loyalty to King George.

It was so devoted that British troops stationed in Florida during the American Revolutionary War imprisoned three of the Declaration of Independence’s signatories in the former Spanish fort in St. Augustine.

The history of Florida has always been unique. As the historian Michael Gannon noted, St. Augustine was already experiencing urban renovation when the Pilgrims and Jamestown immigrants arrived.

Since so many Floridians come from other places, few know the Sunshine State’s interesting history. Here are ten facts about Florida!

  • The first president to ever visit Florida was the 21st U.S. president, Chester A. Arthur, who could not go south of Kissimmee due to the lack of telegraph, therefore he could not be out of touch.
  • Florida aided three future presidents in achieving a national reputation. Zachary Taylor and Andrew Johnson came to fight the Seminoles, and Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders set off for Cuba from Tampa.
  • Tony Janus flew passengers from Tampa to St. Petersburg in 1914, making it the first passenger airline during an era where no bridges connected the two. Four airlines including Eastern, National, Pan American, and Air Florida started in the Sunshine State.
  • Carl Fisher developed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and created the first headlight for automobiles. He also used his fortune to establish the incredible Miami Beach.
  • The first free-black settlement in the New World, known as Fort Mose, was established close to St. Augustine in 1738.
  • In 1824, Tallahassee became the official capital of Florida because it is the halfway mark between St. Augustine and Pensacola.
  • Miami was reached by Henry Flagler’s railroad in 1896, despite his prediction that the town would never develop beyond a fishing community.
  • Before they were constructed, Fort Taylor in Key West and Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas was obsolete and never saw action in battle.
  • On November 22, 1963, Walt Disney decided to build his new theme park in Orlando. After selecting Orlando, he discovered that John Kennedy had been killed in Dallas a few hours before.
  • Donald J. Trump isn’t the only U.S. president to own a home in Florida. Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, and the Bush family also had homes in Florida.

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