Florida, (so called by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1812, from having discovered the coast on Pascua Florida, the name, in Spanish, for Easter.) the southern most state in the union. lies between 25° and 31° north latitude, and 80° and 87° west longitude from Greenwich; and is bounded north by Alabama and Georgia, east by the Atlantic, south by the Gulf of Mexico and west by the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama. Its superficial area is 59,000 square miles, of which but about one half is yet surveyed and occupied.
Physical Aspect-- The face of the country is generally level, and not much elevated above the sea, through we find along the whole northern boundary considerable diversity of surfaces. A base of calcareous rock commences in the northern part of the state, and probably extends under the whole peninsula. This friable stone outcrops the surface of St Augustine, and other parts on the main, and reappears again on the southern keys, as well as on the Bahamas, and the northern shores of Cuba, on the opposite side of the gulf. In Florida, this formation is generally overlaid by deep super-strata of clay, shells and sand. The soil, however, generally is sandy, except in places called "hummocks" where it consists either of reddish-yellow or black clay mixed with sand. The Hummocks, which are numerous and much scattered throughout the state, vary from a few acres to several miles in extent, and constitute no small part of the peninsula. Another inconsiderable portion of Florida consists in what is generally known in the south by the name "pine barrens", much of the soil of which is exceedingly poor; through there are extreme tracts of Hummock, tableland, and swamp, of the richest character, well adapted to cultivation. These barrens, whenever intersected by streams of pure water, however poor they may be, afford excellent ranges for grazing. The southern portion of the state presents singular alterations of savannas, hummocks, lakes and grass-ponds, called collectively "everglades", which extend from Cape Sable into the heart of the country for several hundred miles. This region, including two large swamps, one named Atsenahooffa, on the western side, and the other Halpabeoka, on the northeastern side, embracing the large lake Okeechobee, covers an area of 7,000,000 acres, 4,500,000 of which are usually submerged in water, from two to seven feet deep. The "Pahhayokee" or "grass-water" as the Indians call the everglades comprises from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 acres of submerged lands. The basin of the everglades is surrounded by a rim of soft lime rock, from half a mile to five miles in width, and its bottom is represented to be some 12 to 15 feet above the level of the sea. Deep tide rivers extend from the ocean and gulf quite up to the margin of the river; and comparatively at a small outlay, millions of acres of land are now worthless, could be drained by canals, and brought into the highest state of improvement. Within this basin are thousands of islets of the richest class of land, and the glades are often filled with tall grass from six to ten feet in height, the annual decay of which has occasioned a deposit in the water from two to six feet thick. The tract lies south of 27° of north latitude, where there is seldom or no frost; and if it were reclaimed, as suggested above, it would be adapted to the cultivation of the orange, the pineapple, rice, sugarcane and other tropical plants.
Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- The principal rivers are the St John's, Appalachicola, Suwanee, St Mark's, St Mary's, Ocklocony, Escambia, Withlacoochee, Oscilla, Choctawhatchee, Yellow-Water, Amasura, Anclota, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Gallivan's, Young's, Kissimee, and the Perdido; the latter of which forms the western boundary between this state and Alabama. The St John's is an anomaly among rives of the Atlantic coast. Its source is rather undefinable, being derived from the flat grassy plains, or savannas, is about latitude 28° north, probably not more then 20 miles from the sea. It is exceedingly winding in its course, running in a northerly direction, to a distance of nearly 300 miles. In some places it has more the appearance of a lake, or sound, than a river, swelling out from three to five miles in breadth: while in other parts it dwindles down to a quarter of a mile wide. Vessels drawing eight feet of water ascend to Lake George, a beautiful expansion of this stream, 150 miles from its mouth. The chief lakes are, the Great Okeechobee, George, Dunn's, Cypress, Monroe, Orange, Istopoga, Tobokopoligia, Weeok, Yakapka, Jessup, Harney, Eustis, Poinsett, Beresford, Ashey, Winsor, Gardiner, Griffin and Gentry. There are numerous bays on the western side, some of which form good harbors. Among these are Perdido, Pensacola, Choctawhatchic, St Andrew's, St Joseph's, Appalachicola, Appalachee, Tampa, Charlotte and Gallivan's. In front of Pensacola bay is a long shallow lagoon, called Santa Rosa sound. On the east coast of the state there are but few bays, properly speaking, Fernandina bay forms the mouth of St Mary's river. Mosquito and Indian river, or St Lucia sounds are situated near Cape Canaveral, which are entered by inlets of the same names. Many of the rivers on this side of the peninsula form good harbors for coasting vessels.
Island and Keys-- Florida is remarkable for the great number of small low islets which lie in the vicinity of its shores, called "Keys". The most noted of these are Key West (formerly called Thompson's Island), Indian, Sand, Pine and Cedar keys. The most noted islands are, Merit's, and Hutchinson's, near Cape Canaveral; Amelia island, near St Mary's sound; Sanybel, Pine, Captive and Gasparilla islands, near Charlotte harbor; Mullet island, near Tampa bay; St George's and Dog islands, near Appalachicola bay; Santa Rosa island, near Pensacola bay; and Drayton island in Lake George. Cape Sable is the southern most point in the United States
Climate-- Florida presents some diversity of seasons; but the difference of relative level being small, and surrounded as it is by water on three sides, it enjoys a climate peculiar to itself. On the seaboard it is generally healthy for eight or nine months in the year, and in some parts remarkably so the whole year round. In the interior, it is quite as salubrious as it is in either of the other southern states, unless it be in the vicinity of marshes, or stagnant waters, where fevers and other epidemics invariably prevail. The winters are mild, and usually without frost, through the mercury occasionally sinks to 30°, and sometimes as low as 26°; in summer, the temperature seldom exceeds 97°. The climate of the southernmost keys is truly tropical.
Productive Resources-- The staple products consist of horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, hay, wool, tobacco, cotton, wheat, oats, potatoes, oranges, sugar, molasses, and Indian corn. The forests produce an abundance of live oak timber, cedar, and yellow pine. Turtle and other fisheries are carried on some what extensively among the keys. Salt is made in small quantities and granite is quarried to some extent
Manufactures-- Florida being mostly an agricultural state, but little attention as yet has been paid to manufactures. In 1850 there were but 121 manufacturing establishments, producing to the extent of $500 and upward each annually.
Railroads and Canals-- The legislature of Florida has granted several charters for railroads in this state, but thus far there are neither railroads nor canals within its boarders.
Commerce-- The direct foreign commerce of Florida amounts to about $3,000,000 annually. Shipments are also extensively made through New Orleans and the Atlantic ports. The coasting trade of Florida is also considerable. The shipping in the state amounts to about 12,000 tons.
Education-- The constitution of Florida provides for the establishment of common schools through out the state, but thus far little progress has been made in affording facilities for elementary education. There are academies and grammar schools in the more populous towns, but no collegiate institutions.
Populations-- In 1830 was 34,723; in 1840 was 54,477; in 1850 was 87,401. Number of slaves in 1830 was 15,501; in 1840 was 25,717 and in 1850 was 39,309
Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate and house of representatives. The senate consists of 19 members, elected by the people, in districts for two years. The representatives are elected by the people by counties biannually, their number never to exceed sixty; present number, thirty. Biennial election, first Monday in October. The executive power is vested in a governor, who is chosen by the people once in four years, and is not eligible the succeeding term. The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, having appellate jurisdiction only; also in circuit courts, the state being divided into four circuits, in each of which a judge of the supreme court has jurisdiction. The judges are elected by the legislature, at first for five years; after that term, during good behavior. There are also courts of probate. The right of suffrage may be exercised by every free white man, aged 21 years or upward, who has resided in the state for two years, and in the county for six months, and who shall be enrolled in the militia, or be by law exempted from service therein.
History--The present state of Florida embraces a portion of the ancient Florida, which extended from its southernmost cape to the river Panuco, in Mexico, and westward to the Pacific, and the undefended regions on the north. It was first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon, in 1512, in search of a spring called the "fountain of youth", which was supposed to have the power of renewing vigor of youth in the aged. In 1526, it was formally taken possession of in the name of the king of Spain, by Pamphilo de Narvaezm who had been sent out as governor. The first permanent settlements were made at St Augustine, in 1565, and at Pensacola, in 1666; though an unsuccessful attempt had been made by a colony of Huguenots, in 1562-74, under Ribault. Though often invaded by the English and French, this territory remained a part of the Spanish dominions until 1763, when it was ceded to Great Britain, but restored again to Spain in 1783. From the year 1699 to 1763, the acknowledged boundary between Florida and Louisiana was the river Perdido, but when the latter came into the possession of the Spaniards, for convenience, West Florida was extended to the Mississippi. From this circumstance arose the difficulties between Spain and the United States, on their purchase of Louisiana of the French, in 1803. In 1783, Governor Galvez, of Louisiana invaded and conquered West Florida; but by the treaty of Paris, in 1783, it fell once more to Spain, who held it until 1798, when this portion of Florida, which was claimed as far north as Altamala river, in Georgia, was relinquished to the United States. By virtue of their claims to that portion of Louisiana lying between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers, as held by France prior to 1763, the United States in 1811, seized Baton Rouge, and all other parts of the disputed territory west of Perdido, except Mobile, which was surrender in 1812. After s protracted and uninterrupted negotiation, Florida was ceded to the United States in 1819, ratified by Congress as a territory in 1821, and admitted into the Union as an independent state in 1845. Motto of the seal "Let Us Alone".
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