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Pensacola, Florida

A History of Florida


Other American Colonies. Time passed, and Spain was no longer the only European nation with colonies in the New World. The English had successfully planted colonies in Virginia and New England, and were arranging for the settlement of the Carolinas. The thrifty Dutch had settled New Amsterdam and the French had laid claim not only to the basin of the St. Lawrence, but also to all the country drained by the Mississippi. Spain had claimed the greater part of all these lands by right of discovery and exploration, but had not colonized them. It was now becoming plain that unless she did plant colonies she would soon have no part of Florida to call her own. So at last it was decided to send a party to make a thorough exploration of the western coast of the peninsula and select a good place for a colony.

What other public work was done? What other settlements had been made?

Pensacola Founded. The site selected was on the beautiful bay called by the early explorers Santa Maria, now Pensacola. This was the very site where De Luna had tried to make a settlement five years before St. Augustine was founded. The second attempt in 1696 by three hundred men under Don Andres d'Arriola, was more fortunate. A small fort called San Carlos was built and a church near by with several dwellings. The name Pensacola was given to the settlement, whether for a town in Spain, or whether because a tribe of Indians, the Pensacolas, had once lived there, is not quite certain. At any rate this name was then given to the town founded and to the magnificent body of water on the shores of which it was situated.

French Settlements. It is well that D'Arriola came when he did, for hardly more than a year later a French expedition under Lemoine D'Iberville arrived off the harbor. Seeing the Spanish ships, D'Iberville did not enter, but passed on and made a settlement at Biloxi and later at Mobile. The Perdido River was agreed upon as the boundary in between the French and Spanish territory. Within a short while after Pensacola was founded there were neighbors at Mobile, Biloxi, and New Orleans. For a long time there was peace. The settlements traded with one another. Mobile and Pensacola exchanged many courtesies. Once when Pensacola was threatened with starvation, Mobile supplied her needs, and again came to her assistance against a threatened Indian attack. But, unfortunately, the time came when France and Spain were at war with each other, and the colonies had to take the part of the mother countries.

What site was selected for a new Spanish colony? What origins of the name were established? By whom? What boundary was agreed upon?

Pensacola taken by the French. When the troubles began, De Bienville, governor of Louisiana, was ordered to attack Pensacola. On the 14th of May, 1719, he appeared with his fleet before Pensacola, having sent a large force of Indians by land to join in the attack. The Spanish commander, Metamoras, had never heard that war had been declared between France and Spain. He had so small a garrison that he felt it would be useless to attempt any defense. So at four o'clock in the afternoon he surrendered on condition that private citizens and private property should not be disturbed, and that the garrison should march out with the honors of war and be carried to Havana in French vessels. De Bienville left about sixty men at Pensacola and sailed away. But he did not feel very well satisfied, for what had been so easily gained might be as easily lost. It turned out as he had feared, and the French held the town only about two months.

What were the relations between the colonies? What disturbed these relations? What forces took Pensacola? Wh i at were the conditions of surrender?

Spanish Recapture. When the French vessels reached Havana with the, Spanish garrison on board, they were seized by the captain general of Cuba, and the officers and crews were cast into prison. Then a large expedition was immediately fitted out to recover Pensacola, the captured French ships forming part of the fleet. This fleet was put under command of Metamoras. He sent the French ships in first, and when a good position in front of the fort was taken, the other ships followed and the Spanish colors were shown.

The French commander was called on to surrender, and when he refused, the ships opened fire on the fort. The French then asked for a truce of four days, hoping to get help from De Bienville. A truce of two days was granted. At the end of that time no help had come, and the French surrendered.

French Recapture. De Bienville determined to make another attempt to capture Pensacola. He fitted out several ships and organized a large force, principally of Indians, to attack the town in the rear. He took the place, as he had planned, and made prisoners of the garrison. But he was not strong enough to hold it against a large attacking force, so, after destroying the fort and burning the town, he sailed away. The French of Louisiana were well pleased with the part they took in this expedition, which they called the Pensacola War.

Of what breach of faith was the. captain general of Cuba guilty? How was this advantage followed up ? With what result? What was the next step in the Pensacola War? What disposition did Bienville make of the fort? Why?

Restored to Spain. In 1722 peace was made between France and Spain, Then Pensacola was restored to Spain. The original town, which was burned by the French, was where Fort Barrancas is now. When the Spanish returned in 1722, they built on Santa Rosa Island, where they thought, they would be safer from Indian attacks. After some years, people began planting and building on the north side of the bay, and there, in 1763, the city of Pensacola was regularly laid out.

What ended the conflict in the colonies? Where was the original Pensacola? Where was it next built? Where was the city finally laid out? When?


  1. The missionaries and the Indians.
  2. Attempted settlement at Pensacola.
  3. The naming of "New France."
  4. The reasons of the French for seeking a settlement in America.
  5. Story of the attempted Fort Caroline settlement.
  6. Account of the French settlement in Florida and its troubles.
  7. The three names of the greatest river of Florida.
  8. The commission and the voyage of Menendez.
  9. The founding and naming of St. Augustine.
  10. The conflict with and the massacre of the French.
  11. How Menendez's act was regarded in Europe.
  12. The motives and expedition of De Gourgues.
  13. The relations of the Indians with the French and with the Spanish compared.
  14. The attack on the fort.
  15. The career of Menendez from his coming to Florida to his death.
  16. Efforts to Christianize the Indians.
  17. The burning and rebuilding of St. Augustine and the public improvements.
  18. Indian troubles at St. Augustine.
  19. Location, naming, and founding of Pensacola.
  20. Neighboring French settlements and their relations with Pensacola.
  21. What are the several positions which the city has occupied?


  1. Do the circumstances seem to show that the Indians killed the Spanish priests through sheer brutality or through fear of deception?
  2. Did the Spaniards afterward realize the mistake they had made in the treatment of the Indians?
  3. What seems to have been the chief purpose of Philip in encouraging the settlement of Florida?
  4. What were the relations existing between France and Spain about the middle of the sixteenth century? What important changes to their relations occurred during the period covered by these chapters?
  5. Tell of the religious wars of Europe in the time of Coligny and his part in them.
  6. Was the settlement at the mouth of the St. Johns in a favorable location for a self-sustaining colony?
  7. Find out what you can of Sir John Hawkins.
  8. Read about the Reformation and the Inquisition. A knowledge of the religious wars and intolerance of the time is essential to all appreciation of these chapters.
  9. What storms are regularly expected about the time of year of the destruction of the French forts?
  10. Was the extremely religious conduct of Menendez and the other Spaniards, so out of harmony with their brutality, due, apparently to hypocrisy or was it a characteristic of the religious practices of that time?
  11. Why did Charles of France show so little interest in the murdered French colony?
  12. Were the motives of De Gourgues any more commendable in the light of modern ethical ideas than those of Menendez?
  13. What would be the attitude of modern nations toward the spirit or actions of either Menendez or De Gourgues?
  14. Find the location of each of the forts and settlements mentioned and tell their present names.
  15. Account for the difference of the relations sustained between the French and the Indians and between the Spanish and the Indians. Is this difference characteristic of the history of these nations among the Indians elsewhere in America?
  16. Mention the several evidences of Menendez's vigorous executive ability.
  17. What relation may there have been between the conduct of the Indian guide who betrayed the Spaniards and his education among the Spaniards in Cuba?
  18. Read the history of Sir Francis Drake.
  19. Read of the great Spanish Armada which Menendez was to have commanded.
  20. As a means of converting and civilizing the Indians, which was probably more effective, the punishment inflicted by Menendez or the submissive death of the priests?
  21. What is coquina? Where is it found and what use of it is made at this time?
  22. What established a nation's claim to new territory?
  23. How far apart are Pensacola and Mobile?
  24. What was probably D'Iberville purpose in settling so near to Pensacola?
  25. What war in Europe brought on colonial troubles about this time?
  26. Was the action of the Spanish governor in seizing the French vessels in accord with the laws of war, considering that the French had seized Pensacola?
  27. What is the further illustration, in the seizure of Pensacola, of the comparative relations of the two nations with the Indians?

Excerpt from Part One, Chapter Nine, "The Founding of Pensacola" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


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