3¢ Florida Statehood
Issue Date: March 3, 1945
City: Tallahassee, FL
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10.5
Color: Bright red violet
The Florida Centennial issue, U.S. #927, pictures the state seal, the Gates of St. Augustine, and the capitol at Tallahassee.
Florida’s Road to Statehood
Ponce de León reached Florida in 1513 while searching for the mythical island of Bimini, said to be the site of the Fountain of Youth. Claiming the region for Spain, he named the area Florida, possibly in honor of Pascua Florida, Spanish for the Easter season. In 1521, León returned to Florida to start a colony, but died from wounds he received in a battle with Indians. Pánfilo de Narváez led an expedition of 400 men to Florida in a quest to find gold. Narváez and many of his men were killed in shipwrecks. Hernando de Soto of Spain arrived in the Tampa Bay area in 1539. He traveled beyond Florida, becoming the first European to reach the Mississippi River.
Interestingly, Florida’s first European settlers were not Spanish, but Huguenots (French Protestants). The Huguenots established a colony on the St. Johns River, building Fort Caroline near what is now Jacksonville. Spain’s King Philip II sent a force to drive the French from Florida. In 1565, they established the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States, at St. Augustine. This group, led by Pedro Menédez of Avilés, massacred the French, ending any further attempts of settlement by that nation.
For the next 200 years, the Spanish attempted to teach the American Indians their way of life. France created colonies to the west of Florida, and Great Britain established colonies to the north. War erupted between the French and British colonists during the mid-1700s, and Spain began supporting the French. Great Britain conquered Cuba in 1762, and then traded it to Spain for control of Florida. However, British control of Florida ended during the American Revolutionary War, when Spanish forces invaded in 1781. By 1783, Spain had regained all of Florida.
By the late 1800s, Florida was the only part of southeastern North America not part of the U.S. Many Indians and runaway slaves fled from the U.S. to Florida. In 1812, settlers in Florida declared their independence from Spain, but were defeated militarily.
During the War of 1812, fought between the U.S. and Great Britain, Spain allowed Britain to use Pensacola as a naval base. American troops led by General Andrew Jackson seized Pensacola in 1814. Jackson entered Florida again during the First Seminole War (1817-18), capturing Fort St. Marks. Jackson also defeated the Seminole Indians. With the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, Spain finally turned Florida over to the United States.
Florida officially became a part of the U.S. in 1821. Jackson served as governor until 1822, when Congress organized the Territory of Florida, with William P. Duval as its first governor. Settlers from the North poured into the state. Soon, conflicts arose between these settlers and the Seminole Indians, who controlled the state’s prime farmland. The U.S. government moved many Seminole to the Indian Territory in the Oklahoma region – but some Indians refused to leave their homeland. During the Second Seminole War (1835-42), most of these Indians were killed. The Third Seminole War (1855-58) resulted in the forced relocation of most of the surviving Indians. However, a few hundred of the Seminole retreated into the swamps.
By 1839, Florida had created a constitution and was ready for statehood. However, the conflicts over slavery (Florida was a slave state) delayed its admission until March 3, 1845. Most of Florida’s farms were small – only a third of the state’s farmers owned slaves.
FDR – The Stamp-Collecting President
President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental in the design and issuance of U.S. #927. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother introduced the future President to stamp collecting at a young age. Throughout his life, he turned to his collection to relax and unwind.
Roosevelt was elected President four times, serving in the nation’s highest office longer than any other chief executive – 12 years. During those 12 years, Roosevelt promoted the importance of stamps by personally approving each of more than 200 stamp designs. This included suggesting topics, rejecting others, and even designing some of the stamps himself. He used U.S. postage stamps to educate Americans about their heritage, to buoy war-weary spirits during World War II, and to send a message of peace and hope as Europe faced the overwhelming task of rebuilding.