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Florida in 1855


One hundred years ago when the Florida Historical Society was founded at St. Augustine the members of that organization lived in a region and a society which was vastly different from that which is known to millions of twentieth century Americans as “Florida.” In those ancient days tourists were a rarity and resort hotels south of St. Augustine were even rarer. The cities were mere hamlets by present-day standards and almost all of the population was concentrated in the extreme northern part of the state. Industry was virtually non-existent and the mass of men were farmers. Negroes were held in slavery, and the aristocracy of the state was based upon and much of the wealth of the state was represented by this human chattel. The political scene was enlivened by two vociferous political parties but the grim sounds of sectional conflict which would mark the death of the two party system were already being heard. Yet in those early Floridians there was a pride and self confidence familiar to Floridians of the present-day.