La Florida

Juan Ponce de Leon is credited with discovering Florida and claiming the land for Spain when he came ashore near present-day St. Augustine in March 1513. He named the land La Florida, honoring the springtime Spanish celebration Pascua Florida or “feast of the flowers.” La Florida was much larger than the borders of the modern state of Florida and stretched out into what is today considered parts of the American southwest.

When the British captured Cuba during the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763), they acquired La Florida, too. Spain retook La Florida in 1784, maintaining possession until terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty were hammered out between 1819-1821; Spain ceded control of La Florida to the United States in 1821. The exchange of flags between Spain and America occurred July 10, 1821 in St. Augustine and on July 17, 1821 in Pensacola. The Florida Territory was created.