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Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine (sānt ô´gəstēn), city (1990 pop. 11,692), seat of St. Johns co., NE Fla.; inc. 1824. Located on a peninsula between the Matanzas and San Sebastian rivers, it is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island; the Intracoastal Waterway passes through the city. St. Augustine is a port of entry, a shrimping and commercial fishing center, and a popular year-round resort. The economic mainstay is tourism, supplemented with revenues from small industries. The oldest city in the United States, it was founded in 1565 by the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on the site of an ancient Native American village and near the place where Ponce de Léon, the discoverer of Florida, had landed in 1513. The town was burned and sacked by the English buccaneers Sir Francis Drake (1586) and Capt. John Davis (1665). St. Augustine repelled attacks by South Carolinians in 1702–3 and in 1740 by James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, but it passed to the English in 1763 at the end of the French and Indian Wars. In the American Revolution, Tories flocked to the city from the North but left when it reverted to Spain in 1783. In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States, and St. Augustine grew rapidly until the Seminole War in the 1830s. Union troops occupied the city in Mar., 1862, and held it throughout the Civil War. Among the old landmarks is Castillo de San Marcos (kăstē´yō də săn mär´kəs), now a national monument (see National Parks and Monuments, table). The oldest masonry fort in the country (built 1672–96), it was Spain's northernmost outpost on the Atlantic in the Americas. Fort Matanzas (mətăn´zəs), also a national monument, was built by Spain in 1742. Other places of interest in the city are the old schoolhouse, the house reputed to be the oldest in the United States (said to date from the late 16th cent.), and the cathedral (built 1793–97; partly restored). Flagler College is in the city.

See G. E. Baker, The Oldest City (1983); J. P. M. Waterbury, Augustine History (1989).

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Saint Augustine

SAINT AUGUSTINE

SAINT AUGUSTINE, a city in northeastern Florida, is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in North America. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded Saint Augustine in September 1565 to displace a French colony at Fort Caroline. The city's excellent strategic position above the Straits of Florida made it vital to the Spanish empire: the harbor provided protection for the plate fleets (the fleets that every year carried a fortune in American silver back to Spain), and as the English and French invaded the New World, Saint Augustine anchored Spanish interests in the area. The splendid fort, El Castillo de San Marcos, begun in 1672, withstood two English sieges. In 1763, Spain ceded Florida to the British, who made Saint Augustine the capital of East Florida.

Spain recovered Florida in 1783, only to sell it to the United States in 1819. When Florida became a state in 1845, Tallahassee was made the state capital. Occupied by Union troops early in the Civil War, Saint Augustine saw no action. In the 1880s, oil baron Henry Flagler, attracted by the mild climate and beautiful beaches, brought in the Florida East Coast Railway and built the extravagant Ponce de Leon Hotel, turning Saint Augustine into a fashionable winter resort for the wealthy. After 1937, restoration of the Castillo and the city's Old Town made Saint Augustine more appealing to modern sightseers. The population in the 2000 census was 11,592.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Waterbury, Jean Parker, ed. The Oldest City: Saint Augustine, Saga of Survival. Saint Augustine, Fla.: Saint Augustine Historical Society, 1983.

CeceliaHolland

See alsoExplorations and Expeditions: French, Spanish ; Florida ; Spanish Borderlands .

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"Saint Augustine." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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