The First Coast of America

Thursday, September 17, 2020, 6:00 PM | Leave Comment

Over 200 years before Thomas Jefferson set his quill to paper writing the Declaration of Independence and setting in motion the establishment of the United States as a country, Europeans had already established the first colonies in the “new world”.

Rude and utilitarian, these settlements nevertheless served as the first step towards the colonization of the North American continent by imperial Europe.

As the home of the first European colony in the modern-day United States, Florida’s east coast has borne witness to events that would be instrumental in the establishment and development in the fledgling country into which it would ultimately be incorporated. So why was this chosen by European colonizers, and what role did it play in the development of the United States as we know it today? Read on to find out!

  • The first colony in the United States: St. Augustine

    For years prior to the establishment of St. Augustine as a Spanish colony, daring individuals and corporations did their utmost to establish a foothold on the new continent. In the north, the lucrative market for the valuable pelts of beaver, fox, minx and other North American game led to an influx of trappers and traders. In the south, ambitious conquistadors struck out across the continent in search of riches beyond belief, often committing cruel and inhuman acts in their quests for fame and fortune.

    Some found success, others did not; but despite the individual fates of these newcomers, their endeavors captured the collective mind of the old world. The new world became seen as a land of opportunity for any and all seeking a place to make their own. Persecuted religious groups, adventurous entrepreneurs and fortune seekers alike flocked to the new world to make it their own.

    It wasn’t long before European governments began to see the potential that this new country held. By establishing colonies on the new continent, a government could vastly extend their sphere of influence, and show their superiority over their European neighbors. In 1565, this would lead to Spain establishing the first colony in the continental United States, the city of St. Augustine.

  • Florida’s eastern coast: the new frontier

    St. Augustine was the first of many European incursions into what would later become the United States by European powers. Without consideration for the current residents of the new territory, Europeans would continuously push further and further inland on the new continent, seeking to extend their influence further and further.

    The first of these colonial outposts was St. Augustine, but this settlement would quickly be followed by other settlements in current day Florida. Current day Jacksonville, for example, began as a military outpost, Fort Caroline, founded by the French as a place for protestant Huguenot refugees fleeing persecution from the catholic French government.

    As colonization in the Americas escalated and various European countries sought to establish a foothold in the new world, Florida would become a battleground for European colonizers. As the imperial European powers struggled to assert their dominance on the continent, Florida would be controlled in turn by the English, the Spanish and partially by France.

    • Native Americans in Florida

      We would be remiss to discuss the colonization of Florida without mention of the tragic fate of the Native Americans who called this region their home prior to the arrival of the Europeans. For centuries prior to the arrival of the colonists, various tribal groups had inhabited Florida, taking advantage of the warmer climate and advantageous farming conditions.

      When the Europeans arrived, however, the Native Americans were treated with the same disregard and outright cruelty that became characteristic of European colonization in the Americas as time went on. As a result of aggressive colonization, hundreds of thousands of Native Floridians died from disease, conquest and slavery.

  • Florida’s east coast today

    It’s been over 400 years since the Europeans first landed on the eastern coast of Florida. Today, this area is known primarily for its affluent communities, vibrant metropolises and sunny beaches. Every year, thousands of retirees flock to its warm shores fleeing the rapidly encroaching winter in the northern U.S.

    • The city of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach

      Take the city of Jacksonville and its surroundings, for example. A metropolis in every sense of the word. With a vibrant musical and artistic scene as well as a booming real estate market, the city is thriving both economically and culturally. There are few cities on Florida’s east coast that can compare to its level of intellectual and material wealth!

      One of the most striking things about the city of Jacksonville is the sheer number of natural preserves, museums and art galleries that the city is home to. When you make Jacksonville or Jacksonville Beach the site of your vacation or home, you’ll surely not be left wanting here it comes to things to do and see in the city.

    Despite the modern, forward facing culture flourishing in these cities and the plethora of things to see and do, reminders of the history of this state can still be found everywhere. From well preserved historical forts and Native American settlements to the simple unmarred beauty of the area’s many natural preserves, those seeking to learn more about the history of this state will not be left wanting.


If you want to learn more about the rich history and culture of this storied region, there are few places better to do so than the city of Jacksonville Beach. This beautiful city is built on the site of one of the oldest settlements in the United States; when you live here, history is all around you, every day!

For those seeking to make this attractive town their home, there’s no better way to start the process than by contacting one of the top local real estate agents in Jacksonville Beach FL. These experienced real estate professionals will have you in a home that suits your needs perfectly before you know it!

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