In 1773, the English botanist William Bartram traveled through north-central Florida. Impressed with the richness of the soil in the Alachua region, he commented on the variety and quantity of crops that the Indians who lived there seemed to grow with ease. Despite Bartram’s favorable report, and later comments like it, few settlers arrived in the area to establish farms and plantations when Florida became an American territory in 1821. Indeed, more than just fertile soil would be needed to lure farmers into the Florida wilderness. In this regard, the account of plantation agriculture’s arrival in Alachua County, Florida, will help illustrate the forces that shaped later migrations onto the southern frontier. For though there were many reasons for resettlement, the elements that impelled people to move from one place to another can be reduced to two basic forces: one pushing and the other pulling. While the prospect of increased prosperity is often recognized as a powerful force that “pulled” people toward the wilderness, the “push” of unfavorable conditions that sometimes existed in the more settled regions of the antebellum South was also a significant impetus to migration.
Claudle, Everett W.
"Settlement Patterns in Alachua County, Florida, 1850-1860,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 67:
4, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol67/iss4/4