Over its long history, Florida has been many things: an Edenic realm protected by geography; a wilderness that ruined Spanish conquistads&tadors; a place to start over; and "god's waiting room." With a native population as high as 900,000 (who all died), it became a pestilential backwater, but today is our fourth most populous state. The site of vicious racial violence, including massacres, genocide, slavery, and the terrorist campaigns that undid Reconstruction, Florida is now one of our most diverse states, a dynamic multicultural place with an essential role in 21st century America.
From the very first, however, the remarkable story of Florida has been distorted and whitewashed. InFinding Florida, T.D. Allman reclaims this remarkable history from the mythologizers, apologists, and boosters. He shows Florida as it was and is, tracing its history through the pre-Columbian era, and under Spanish, French, and British rule. He describes the 19th century American maneuvers to take this territory it coveted, the importation of slavery following Andrew Jackson's military campaigns, and the terrible violence of the Seminole Wars. Florida became a state in 1845; sixteen years later it would secede.
In Florida, Allman writers, two Civil Wars unfolded. First was the actual war, then came the imaginary one, where brutality and ruin were transformed into a selfless struggle to defend a noble cause that never existed. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Florida was sold as paradise, with tourism replacing slavery as the dominant activity. Palm Beach, Key West, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando boomed, fortunes were won and lost, land was stolen and flipped, and millions arrived.
The product of a decade of research and writing,Finding Floridais a highly original, stylish, and masterful work, the first modern history of this important place.
"Fascinating, comprehensive, and accessible to the non-specialist reader. ... [Allman] has managed to pull together a compelling read without sacrificing historical substance.”--Glenda Gilmore, Professor of History, Yale University