Winner of 2002 Gulf South History Book Award from the Gulf South Historical Association
Florida has had many frontiers. Imagination, greed, missionary zeal, disease, war, and diplomacy have created its historical boundaries. Bodies of water, soil, flora and fauna, the patterns of Native American occupation, and ways of colonizing have defined Florida’s frontiers. Paul E. Hoffman tells the story of those frontiers and how the land and the people shaped them during the three centuries from 1565 to 1860.
For settlers to La Florida, the American Southeast ca. 1500, better natural and human resources were found on the piedmont and on the western side of Florida’s central ridge, while the coasts and coastal plains proved far less inviting. But natural environment was only one important factor in the settlement of Florida. The Spaniards, the British, the Seminole and Miccosuki, the Spaniards once again, and finally Americans constructed their Florida frontiers in interaction with the Native Americans who were present, the vestiges of earlier frontiers, and international events. The near-completion of the range and township surveys by 1860 and of the deportation of most of the Seminole and Miccosuki mark the end of the Florida frontier, though frontier-like conditions persisted in many parts of the state into the early 20th century.
For this major work of Florida history, Hoffman has drawn from a broad range of secondary works and from his intensive research in Spanish archival sources of the 16th and 17th centuries. Florida’s Frontiers will be welcomed by students of history well beyond the Sunshine State.