Historical Background of the Poem and
The New State Song of Florida

I Am Florida”

A copy of the Florida Poem “I Am Florida” and the Florida Poetic History is enclosed in the New Florida State Song Pack, which is a DVD Video “I Am Florida”. click here for purchase information.

I Am Florida” is a wonderful poem that describes our state.”
Tom Gallagher, State CFO and Insurance Commissioner (Retired)

Florida has such a fascinating trail of events. A history beginning with the creation by God of this beautiful state to the human elements which have dominated the history of the State of Florida. So many of the leaders of America have spent enormous amounts of time in Florida. Here in the paradise of “I Am Florida”, many ideas were conceived by American Leaders, from which we have all benefited.

Following is historical information that may be of interest to residents and school students in the State of Florida. Much of this information is from www.wikipedia.org.

Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913) was an American tycoon, real estate promoter, railroad developer and partner of John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil. He was a key figure in the development of the eastern coast of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean and was founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of Miami, Florida and also founded Palm Beach, Florida.

The Seminole are a Native American tribe originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The word Seminole is a corruption of cimarrón, a Spanish term for “runaway” or “wild one”, historically used for certain Indian groups in Florida. The Seminole are closely related to the Miccosukee, who were recognized as a separate tribe in 1962.

After the Seminole war, the remaining few hundred Seminoles survived in the Florida swamplands avoiding removal. They lived in the Everglades, to isolate themselves from European-Americans. Seminoles continued their distinctive life, such as “clan-based matrilocal residence in scattered thatched-roof chickee camps.” Today, the 21st century descendants of the Seminole proudly note the Seminole were never officially conquered.

After the Third Seminole War, the Seminoles in Florida divided into two groups; those who were more traditional and those willing to adapt to the reservations. Those who accepted reservation lands and made adaptations were recognized as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Those who preferred the more traditional lifestyle organized themselves as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. Other Seminoles not affiliated with either of the federally recognized groups are known as Traditional or Independent Seminoles.

Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa (1474 – July 1521) was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named. He is associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida.

According to a popular legend, Ponce de León discovered Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth. Though stories of vitality-restoring waters were known on both sides of the Atlantic long before Ponce de León, the story of his searching for them was not attached to him until after his death. In his Historia General y Natural de las Indias of 1535, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés wrote that Ponce de León was looking for the waters of Bimini to cure his aging. A similar account appears in Francisco López de Gómara’s Historia General de las Indias of 1551.

The St. Johns River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida and its most significant for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles (500 km) long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state’s largest. A vast variety of people have lived on or near the St. Johns, including Archaic people, Timucua, Mocama, French and Spanish settlers, Seminoles, slaves and freemen, Florida crackers, land developers, tourists, and retirees. It has been the subject of William Bartram’s journals, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ books, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s letters home.  

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