Forgotten history, Viva la Florida!
Thank you for publishing the article “Can we talk? Celebrating July 4, in spite of … (Part 1)” written by Alibaba Lumumba, and I look forward to reading part 2. I applaud Lumumba’s encouragement that “we be respectful, tolerant and patient!” He rightfully notes that the U.S. is a country of immigrants, many of whom left their homeland because of “poverty, politics, hunger, and landlessness,” yet some of their descendants no longer welcome immigrants who arrive here for the same reasons.
However, I object to his statement that Jamestown was “the first sustainable settlement” established by Europeans in 1607. Forty years before that, Spaniards founded St. Augustine. Indeed, in 1565, Don Pedro de Menendez de Aviles participated in a Catholic mass followed by a meal shared with the Native American Timucua tribe that is truly the first Thanksgiving despite the tradition of the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe.
In addition, Florida was not one of the 13 British colonies that declared their independence on July 4, 1776. After the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Spain had recovered Cuba from Britain in exchange for Florida, so during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Florida was a loyal British colony. In 1783, it reverted to Spain, and as a result of the First Seminole War (1817-1818), Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. It became a territory in 1821.
Florida has a prominent and unique place in U.S. history: let’s commemorate and celebrate it on every occasion!