The Founding of St. Augustine

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The First European Settlements in America
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St. Augustine is the oldest continually populated settlement in what is now the United States. It was first organized on September 8, 1565, by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles. The date was significant because it was the feast day of St. Augustine. Menendez named the day after the saint. He was also the first governor of Florida, the colony originally formed by Juan Ponce de Leon, the seeker of the Fountain of Youth.

The enterprising Menendez was in the New World at the direction of the King and Queen of Spain, who were pursuing twin interests of exploring new lands and trying to control colonization by other European powers. French explorers had built a settlement called Fort Caroline in 1564. Menendez and his men were specifically told to eliminate that French settlement, which they did a year after it was built. Also a target of Spanish occupation were the Timucua, a Native American tribe who lived in the area. The principal chief of the Timucua at that time was a man named Seloy. Menendez and his men had little trouble subduing the Timucua and took over Seloy's council house, using it for their first fort.

From that point on, the settlement of St. Augustine was interrupted, being owned by Spanish, then English, then Americans.

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David White