Episode 358: Charles Tingley, St Augustine and Early Florida


For much of the colonial period, Spain claimed almost all of North America as Spanish territory. It displayed this claim on maps and in the administrative units it created to govern this vast territory: New Spain and La Florida.

Charles Tingley is a Senior Research Librarian at the St. Augustine Historical Society in St. Augustine, Florida and an expert in the history of St. Augustine. He joins us to explore the early American history of La Florida through the lens of one of its capitals: the city of St. Augustine.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.

Episode Summary

Charles Tingley joins us to explore the early history of St. Augustine and Florida. Charles is a Senior Research Librarian at the St. Augustine Historical Society in St. Augustine, Florida.

During our investigation into St. Augustine and early Florida, Charles reveals how and why the Spanish founded a colony at St Augustine, Florida; The layout and appearance of colonial St. Augustine and the makeup of its people; And, the journey of St. Augustine and Florida from a Spanish colony to a British colony, back to a Spanish colony, and finally, the 27th state of the United States.

What You’ll Discover

  • When and why the Spanish founded St. Augustine, Florida
  • Failed attempts by Spain and France to establish settlements in Florida
  • The tensions between Spain and France over Florida
  • St Augustine’s location and how its location supported Spain’s missionizing work
  • Spain's support of Franciscan missions throughout Florida
  • The Timucua-speaking people of Northern Florida and their interactions with Spanish settlers
  • Who Spain recruited to settle in St. Augustine
  • The New Ordinances of the Indies issued by King Philip II of Spain in 1572 and its impact on St Augustine
  • What early St Augustine would have looked and sounded like
  • St Augustine’s early exports
  • Spain’s Slave Sanctuary Policy
  • The establishment of the Free Black community Fort Mose in 1738
  • Siege of 1740 and its impact on the free Black community at St Augustine
  • When and why Florida transitioned from Spanish to British control
  • How the demographics of early Florida changed under British control
  • Florida’s response to the American Revolution
  • Florida’s transition back to Spanish control in 1783
  • When and why Florida transitioned from Spanish control to American control
  • The collapse of Spain’s Atlantic empire
  • The Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819
  • Florida’s importance in early American history
  • How to visit the St Augustine Historical Society and use its collections

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Florida had never been returned to the Spanish following the American War for Independence? How do you think the history of Florida and the United States would be different?

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