The Origins of Miami
52 years after Ponce de Leon landed in Florida’s coast, and named it after its beautiful tropical flora and fauna, a man by the name of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was the first Spaniard to successfully land and colonize Florida’s coast in 1565 with his 800 soldiers and colonists in five ships.
Menéndez de Avilés may have not been the very first to successfully colonize the beautiful Florida, but he sure was the first one to make this settlement permanent. Where other have tried and failed, or left, Menéndez made damn sure that the King’s money and his own private funds were well invested in making La Florida into one of Spain’s possessions
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was an important factor in bringing Europeans to live in this land for the next 250 years. It was Menéndez de Avilés that had settlers settle in the mouth of the Miami River in 1566. They had set up a missionary to start a small village, right next to the Tequesta Indians. By 1567 they had a fort built and a nice bustling village of settlers.
It wasn’t until 250 or so years later, or in the 1800s, when Spain began to sell the lands to families from the Bahamas so they could farm in it.
The First Seminole War had taken place in the early 1800s, before the purchase of Florida. At that time the British controlled Florida. The Seminoles felt threatened by the Americans in the Georgia border and were displeased with their attitude. Britain didn’t help the Americans; instead they only helped fuel the fire between the Seminole Indians and the American people. The Americans were already mad that the Seminoles aided the runaway black slaves, which they sent slave runners to go down and capture free, innocent blacks and a few Indians. The Seminoles responded by attacking a Georgia town and ultimately killing innocent civilians. Therefore the First Seminole War.
After the small war ended, Spain demanded that the Americans pay the damage made to the Spanish territory. The price for Florida was met between official and unofficial meeting between America and Spain; 5 million dollars for the damage and for Florida. The Americans took that and bought Florida.
America didn’t waste time to tell the Seminoles to move into reservations and not go out of the space given to them. The reservations were no better than an abandoned, rotting villages.
Soon thereafter they were told to move beyond the Mississippi river. The Seminoles were pretty split between leaving and staying. Some of them left and accepted the treaty presented to them by the American government, and the others, angered by the American’s audacity, fled to the Everglades to prepare to fight to death to stay.
A man by the name of Richard Fitzpatrick actually bought a large piece of land where the Tequesta Indians once lived. His plantation grew sugar cane, bananas, corn and tropical fruits. His lovely and thriving business didn’t last too long though. Fitzpatrick had to face the Second Seminole War.
Deciding not to stay for the show, Fitzpatrick left his plantation in the power of the American military, where they quickly built Fort Dallas. A small and secluded Military base.
It was during the Second Seminole war that Miami went through a bout of depopulation, leaving only a few American soldier and the Seminoles in the Everglades. This war was known, and recorded as the bloodiest and deadliest of all other wars had with the Native American Indians in American history. The whole war lasted for more than half of a decade.
Soon after the end in 1842, William English, Fitzpatrick’s nephew, regained the lands his uncle abandoned and started to plan a future for the land, by making it a bustling and famous village. His dreams brought him far enough that he sold a good amount of lots before abandoning the lands to pursue the dream of the Gold Rush in California.
By 1855, the Seminoles still have not given up their homeland. Even after the treaty or the Indian Removal Act that forced them to move west of the Mississippi River (now presentday Oklahoma). They had fought 2 heavy wars with the Americans and were now gearing up for round three.
Though this final war between America and the Seminole Indians was not as destructive as the last one, it still slowed down the development of Miami and the rest of the Southeastern side of Florida. Not only that, but Fort Dallas had been reestablished as a military base when the Third Seminole War began.
As time passed even the Seminoles grew tired of fighting and accepted the $8,000 to emigrate. There were 350 Seminoles before they emigrated, but Chief Bowlegs only took with him 165 followers with him. The remaining Seminoles simply refused to abandon their homeland to the Whiteman. They stayed in their secluded homes in the Everglades until they decided to establish themselves in Florida and make their presence known.
So where exactly are these infamous Seminoles today?
Ever heard of the Hardrock Café and Casino?
Thought as much.
To be continued…