5 Things We Learned from ‘Finding Florida’

1. Florida’s bloody history started with an attack on Fort Caroline in Jacksonville by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles. His troops massacred hundreds of French there and killed others who had been shipwrecked near Cape Canaveral. French leader Jean Ribault was among those executed. Menendez in turn founded St. Augustine. Ironically, both Menendez and Ribault have Northeast Florida high schools named for them.

2. The great Indian chief, Osceola, revered by Florida State football fans for never giving up to the white man, had white parents. His real name was William Powell Jr.; his father was from Georgia and his mother was a descendant of Scottish traders.

3. St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth was an invention of a Georgia-born publicity hound, Walter B. Fraser, who proclaimed that the famed explorer Juan Ponce de Leon had landed at the spot on

St. Augustine’s mucky shoreline. Allman claims writer Washington Irving is responsible for spreading the tale of Ponce de Leon seeking a Fountain of Youth as a remedy for “el enflaquecimiento del sexo.”

4. Florida is the only state to have a full-scale war fought entirely within its borders. The Florida Seminole War lasted for more than four decades, off and on from 1816-1858. More soldiers died in that war than in all the Indian wars fought west of the Mississippi combined.

5. Plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley, who lived north of Jacksonville, proposed in 1829 that interracial sex should serve as the solution to America’s social and regional problems. His wife Anna was a former slave, who in turn owned her

own slaves.

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