John McGrath


What we call Florida today is the nearest part of the American mainland to the spot where Columbus landed in 1492, while North America's east coast is also the closest part of the New World to Europe's Atlantic ports. Despite the proximity, Florida remained a mysterious, perplexing land throughout the sixteenth century. For over a century, rumors and legends of various kinds of riches promised rewards to those who could find them, yet successive attempts to explore and settle were frustrating or even disastrous. By 1600, the only lasting European footprint in Florida was St. Augustine, a small outpost that had been established and maintained at a great human and monetary cost.