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A Grant of Indian Territory from the Upper Creek Indians as also the Lower Creeks and Seminoles to Colonel Thomas Brown Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District of North America
This document is an enclosure originally submitted by Henry Lee IV to Florida territorial judge Augustus Brevoort Woodward in September 1824. Lee sought Woodward’s assistance in securing claim to property purchased by his father, General Henry Lee, from Thomas Brown in 1817. On March 1, 1783, several “Kings and Warriors” representing Upper Creek, Lower Creek, and Seminole towns affixed their names and family marks to a document granting Thomas Brown, a British superintendent of Indian affairs, substantial territory west of Saint Augustine in what was then British East Florida ...
Florida's Canal Main Street
Interest in constructing a water route across the Florida peninsula goes back to the colonial rule of the Spanish and the British and continued when Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821. The earliest American surveys for a possible canal in Florida were undertaken in the wake of excitement surrounding the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the first significant work on a cross-Florida canal as part of New Deal public works programs in Florida. After much debate, construction on route ...
Seminoles with Irons During Round-up and Branding at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
The cattle industry in Florida began soon after the nation’s oldest city, Saint Augustine, was established in 1565. Spaniards imported livestock to meet the needs of the small but critical colony. By the dawn of the 18th century, Spanish, African, and Native American cattlemen worked cows on the vast wet prairies and scrublands found throughout northern and central Florida. La Chula, the largest ranch in Spanish Florida, boasted thousands of head of cattle in the late 1600s. Seminole migrants took up cattle herding in northern Florida following the destruction ...
Portrait of Seminole Indian Cowboy Charlie Micco at the Brighton Indian Reservation
Seminole Indians dominated Florida’s cattle industry during the early 19th century. The Seminoles themselves, not originally cattle people, inherited abandoned Spanish livestock in the 18th century and adopted herding into their own culture. Seminole cattle all but vanished as a result of fighting during the Seminole Wars (1817−18, 1835−42, and 1855−58). Following the removal of the vast majority of the Seminoles and the seizure of their cattle, the remaining Florida Indians adapted their herding culture to the abundant supply of wild hogs found in central and ...
Ringling Circus Clown Emmett Kelly in Sarasota, Florida
Emmett Kelly (1898−1979), pictured here, portrayed the melancholy hobo-clown Weary Willie for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for more than a decade. His act differed from that of the typical jovial clown and made Weary Willie one of the most memorable components of the Ringling Brothers show. The Ringling Brothers built the show from humble beginnings in Baraboo, Wisconsin, into the largest and best-known American circus. They began their ascent in show business in 1884 when they combined with the Yankee Robinson circus. The following year the Ringlings bought out Yankee Robinson and became sole proprietors of the traveling show. The Ringling Brothers quickly acquired smaller circus shows and sought out the top performers from around the world. In 1919, the Ringlings merged their two largest ventures—Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey—into a single, combined circus, the “Greatest Show on Earth.” In 1927, the circus moved its winter quarters from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Sarasota, Florida. Members of the Ringling family had wintered in Sarasota since 1911. This photograph, taken in 1947, is by Joseph Janney Steinmetz, a world-renowned commercial photographer whose images appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Time, Holiday, Collier's, and Town & Country. His work has been referred to as "an American social history," which documented diverse scenes of American life. Steinmetz moved from Philadelphia to Sarasota in 1941.
Killing Time
Highways to the southern states of the United States opened up during the second decade of the 20th century, allowing men and women from around the country to see the unique sites of Florida's interior, away from the cities on the east and west coasts. After the completion of the highway from Montreal to Miami in 1915, the number of automobile tourists increased dramatically. The original “tin can tourists” of the 1920s pioneered camper travel, and the practice became ever more popular after World War II, as young families ...
Rescue Train Swept off the Tracks by the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane
On September 2, 1935, a powerful hurricane slammed into the middle Florida Keys. Known as the Labor Day Hurricane, it was the first Category 5 storm to strike the United States in recorded history. The hurricane claimed at least 485 lives, including about 260 World War I veterans working on a section of the Overseas Highway in a federal relief project. The veterans came from the ranks of the Bonus Army, a group of soldiers who camped at the steps of the U.S. Capitol in the early 1930s to ...
Devastation in Miami from the 1926 Hurricane
Florida, especially the southeastern portion of the state, experienced rapid growth in the early 20th century. The land boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents and ushered in a period of unprecedented construction. The prosperity initiated by the arrival of the Plant and Flagler railroads and prolonged by endless boosterism came to a screeching halt in mid-September 1926. A catastrophic hurricane made landfall near Miami Beach in the early morning hours of September 18, 1926. Known as the Great Miami Hurricane, the storm cut a path of destruction ...
Coffins Stacked Along the Bank of a Canal After the Hurricane of 1928, Belle Glade, Florida
Just two days before the second anniversary of the Great Miami Hurricane that wreaked havoc in South Florida, another powerful storm made landfall in the state. The Category 4 hurricane caused at least 1,500 deaths in the Caribbean before making landfall in Palm Beach County on September 16, 1928. The storm resulted in an estimated $25 million in damage along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, from Fort Pierce to Boca Raton. The greatest damage occurred inland, however, especially along the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. As the hurricane passed over ...
Waters of Destiny
The systematic drainage of the Florida Everglades began in earnest in 1905. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, then Florida’s governor, committed significant state funds and solicited federal assistance in order to reclaim from underutilization the vast swamplands south of Lake Okeechobee. The ultimate goal of the Everglades reclamation was to access rich “muck” soil, covered in many areas by a thin layer of freshwater. Muck soil consisted of thousands of years of organic material accumulated on top of limestone bedrock. The muck made for ready and productive topsoil, but was quickly ...
Whip Cracking Demonstration—L.K. Edwards, Junior
Fredric Remington introduced Americans to the “Florida Cracker” cowboy in the August 1895 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Remington sketched and wrote about the fiercely independent breed of Florida cattlemen, who herded cattle and battled rustlers along the frontier. For Remington and many of his contemporaries, the Florida they knew resembled a frontier as much as any region of the United States in the late 19th century. The term “cracker” derives from the sound created by the popping of a bull whip. Florida crackers carried whips and used them, along ...
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.: East Front Elevation, Rendering
Construction of the Capitol, the building that houses the U.S. Congress, began in 1793 and was largely completed by 1865, when the Capitol’s second dome was finished. The principal architects were William Thornton (1759-1828), B. Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), and Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-87). This elevation by Alexander Jackson Davis (1803-92), rendered in ink, watercolor, and wash, shows the east front of the Capitol as it appeared in 1834. After studying at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York, Davis began his career as ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
St. Augustine: Part (Below Thirty Degrees Latitude) is on the Mainland of Florida, but the Sea Coast is More Low-Lying and thus Torn Away and Rendered Island-Like
This map is the earliest engraving of any city or territory now part of the United States. It also includes the dorado fish, one of the natural history subjects drawn by John White, governor of the first Anglo-American settlement in America, in the Hatteras region, then part of Virginia (now North Carolina). Sir Francis Drake’s 1585-86 raid on the West Indies picked up the Virginia settlers and returned them to Europe. In the course of the return voyage, the author of this view-plan was able to copy the figure ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Spinner in Vivian Cotton Mills, Cherryville, North Carolina: Been at it Two Years. Where Will Her Good Looks Be in Ten Years?
This image of a young girl working in a North Carolina textile mill in the early 20th century is from the Records of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) at the Library of Congress. The photograph is attributed to Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940), one of the leading American documentary photographers of the Progressive Era. Best known for his photography of urban social conditions in New York City, Hine also investigated conditions at cotton mills across the Carolina Piedmont. Working with the Reverend Alfred E. Seddon and journalist A.H. Ulm ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Saint Augustine Map, 1589
This engraved hand-colored map or view-plan by Baptista Boazio depicts Sir Francis Drake's attack on Saint Augustine on May 28-29, 1586. Boazio, an Italian who worked in London from about 1585 to 1603, made maps to illustrate accounts of English expeditions and campaigns. He prepared a series of maps marking Drake's route for Walter Bigges' work on Drake's expedition to the West Indies, first published in 1588 and followed by later editions. This map highlights an episode from Drake's Caribbean expedition, pictorially portraying how the English ...
Ordinance of Secession, 1861
This document is a one-page handwritten copy of the Ordinance of Secession passed on January 10, 1861, by the members of the Florida Convention of the People (commonly referred to as the Secession Convention). Pursuant to an act of the Florida legislature approved on November 30, 1860, Governor Madison S. Perry issued a proclamation calling an election on Saturday, December 22, 1860, for delegates to a convention to address the issue of whether Florida had a right to withdraw from the Union. The Secession Convention met in Tallahassee on January ...
Will of Zephaniah Kingsley, 1843
Zephaniah Kingsley was a wealthy planter and slave owner in northeast Florida. His heirs included his wife, a freed slave named Anna M. J. Kingsley, and their children. Kingsley was both a defender of slavery and an activist for the legal rights of free blacks. Born in Bristol, England, in 1765, Kingsley moved to Charleston, South Carolina, then a British colony, in 1770. By the 1790s, Kingsley was active in maritime commerce, including the slave trade. In 1803, he became a citizen of Spanish Florida and began acquiring land in ...
Spanish Land Grant Papers of John B. Gaudry
The Spanish Land Grants were claims filed to prove ownership of land after the transfer, in 1821, of the territory of Florida to the United States. Starting in 1790, Spain offered land grants to encourage settlement in the sparsely populated and vulnerable Florida colony. When the United States assumed control of the territory, it agreed to honor any valid land grants. Residents had to prove the validity of their grants through documentation and testimonials in dossiers filed with the U.S. government. Claims either were confirmed (found to be valid ...
Confrontation Between Black Demonstrators and Segregationists at a "White Only" Beach
This photograph documents one episode in the struggle over civil rights that raged throughout the American South in the early 1960s. In the summer of 1964, national civil rights leaders hoped to push for integration of public areas in St. Augustine, Florida, including its bathing beaches. An especially violent confrontation over public access occurred on June 25, when white men attacked blacks on Butler Beach in defiance of the police, who were trying to keep the groups apart. The confrontation drew the attention of national civil rights leaders such as ...
Addie Billie
This portrait, taken in January 1989, is of Addie Billie, a member of the Seminole tribe of Florida, in old age. As a younger woman, Billie had campaigned to improve the quality of life of the Mikasuki-Seminoles. Today’s Seminoles are the descendants of Native Americans who may have lived for millennia in the southeastern United States. Seminole culture was firmly established in Florida by the 1800s, but it was also threatened by the newly created United States, which desired the removal of Seminole peoples from the territory. The Seminoles ...
Midwinter Crowd at Miami Beach
Winter tourism became a major factor in the development of Miami and south Florida from the 1920s onward. Development, particularly of hotels, grew apace, with the increasing popularity of this tourism and retirement haven, and much helped by the spread of commercial aviation. By 1940 Miami had about two million vacationers a year. President Harry S Truman was there for the dedication of the Everglades National Park in 1947. Some of the new hotels, such as the 1948 Sherry Frontenac, had fine Art Deco details. This photograph, taken on December ...
Seminole Josie Billie with Family and Dog
This photograph, taken in the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida near Deep Lake in April 1921, depicts Josie Billie and his family. Born on December 12, 1887, Billie was the son of the first Indian to receive a formal education in Florida. A Seminole medicine man and long-time public spokesman for the Florida Seminoles, Billie was also a Baptist minister. He was a frequent participant in the Florida Folk Festival and lived on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Hendry County until his death in 1980. The image is ...
After Great Hurricane of 1896
This image shows the devastation caused by the Great Hurricane of 1896 that struck the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. With its 2,200-kilometer coastline, Florida is the U.S. state most vulnerable to these storms. More than 450 recorded tropical storms and hurricanes have reached its shores since European exploration began. The hurricane of September 1896 destroyed most of the residential area of the town of Cedar Key on the upper west coast of the Florida peninsula, killing dozens of residents and destroying most of Cedar Key’s ...
Kazuo and Masuko Kamiya as Children
This photograph, taken about 1920, shows two young children of the Yamato Colony, a farming community in south Florida founded by Japanese immigrant Jo Sakai in 1905 with the encouragement of Florida authorities, who thought the Japanese would introduce innovative farming methods and new crops. Yamato was an ancient name for Japan. The community was located in what is now Boca Raton, and the farmers grew pineapples and later winter vegetables. Jo Sakai encouraged young men from his Japanese village, Miyazu, to settle at Yamato, a prospect that appealed to ...
Florida Moonport USA
This early 1960s black-and-white film was made as a tribute to the U.S. space program in Florida. It begins by showing a launch sequence for Project Mercury, the first U.S. human spaceflight program. Also shown are examples of the technology of the day, including pocket transistor radios and massive computers. Twelve gallons of gas cost $3.60. Also seen is an unsuccessful rocket launch. The film highlights the broader economic and social effects of the space program on Florida, including the large numbers of highly educated personnel who ...
Welcome to Rainbow Springs
“Welcome to Rainbow Springs” is an example of the traditional tour guide performances delivered by guides at Florida’s natural springs, which were the first tourist attractions widely promoted in the state’s long history as a tourist destination. The speech is part welcome message, part folk song, and part tall tale, and demonstrates how African Americans were integral to the early tourist trade in Florida. The performance style is evocative of the minstrel songs and theatricals of earlier years. Rainbow Springs boat captain Skipper Lockett gives his recitation while ...
Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley
Early in the 19th century, as wagon trains streamed into the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, settlers came upon vast numbers of abandoned earthworks that they attributed to a sophisticated race of long-gone mound builders. Giving rise to often-loaded questions about human origins, the mounds and the artifacts found within them became the focus of early American efforts toward a science of archaeology. Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848) was the first major work in the nascent discipline as well as the first publication of the newly established Smithsonian Institution ...
Contributed by Smithsonian Institution