Statehood & Later

In 1845 Florida became the 27th state of the Union even though there was some question about whether it should be divided into two states, West Florida and East Florida.

Though Florida became a Territory of the U.S. in 1821 it was still a long way from maturity. Farmers moved down with their slaves and the preoccupation with mapping was to survey and partition the land to allow for distribution to encourage agriculture. Attempts had been made to encourage it by giving 160 acres to settlers as early as 1842 (twenty years before the Homestead Act of 1862). But the Indians were still in the way. Attempts to get them to move west of the Mississippi were not successful--even after the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).

Various treaties and negotiations were tried to designate Florida land that was to be occupied by them and these areas are shown on many of the maps. However, the farmers and settlers really wanted the land and the Seminoles were adamant that it really belonged to them. That led to the Third Seminole War (1855-1858). Even then most of the Indians stayed in Florida by moving south and into the Everglades.

Cotton farming increased in the northern and middle portion as well as tobacco farming and cattle raising. Sugar began to be grown in the southern portion of the state near Lake Okeechobee. Apalachicola became a big cotton port and Jacksonville was busy as a timber export area. Key West became the largest city in the state because of its Caribbean and Gulf trade and "wrecking"

Things seemed quieter in the late 1850s but slavery and its possible abolition was a growing problem. Florida decided it should join with the seven seceding states as part of the Confederate States of America. One of the first northern retaliatory activities was the take-over of Pensacola by the Union Army. This was followed by the capture of Key West and its Fort Taylor as well as Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas. Fort Jefferson was used as a prison and remained so after the Civil War. The Union forces also took over the harbors at Fernandina, St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Meanwhile the interior remained in Confederate hands and people struggled to help support the war with food.

Finally the Civil War ended in 1865 and Florida was re-admitted to the Union in 1868. Recovery was not easy but agriculture continued to be Florida's main support until tourism became a possibility, leading to the construction of railroads. Along the west coast to Tampa Henry Plant was the entrepreneur and later Henry Flagler built his Florida East Coast Railroad to Miami (in 1900) and then to Key West in 1912. Then began a whole new story that is too far-reaching to tell with maps.