The American Period (1821 - Present)

American Flag during Florida's Territorial Period.

The Territorial Period (1821-1845)

These early years as part of the United States were years of conflict for Florida. For years Indian groups who had been pushed off their land in Georgia and Alabama by white settlers had found refuge in Spanish Florida. These Indians, primarily Creeks, along with escaped African slaves, became known as Cimmarones or wild ones, the probable origin of the word Seminole. However, once Florida became a territory of the United States, these Indians were no longer safe. The US Army raided their settlements, and the Seminoles and whites engaged in a series of long, expensive wars ending with 4000 -5000 Seminoles being shipped to reservations in Oklahoma, and the tattered remnants of a proud people finally finding some refuge in the wilds of the Everglades.

Union soldiers at the Castillo de San Marcos, then called Fort Marion.
Union Soldiers at Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos)

Samuel A. Cooley

The Civil War Years (1861-1865)

Florida was granted statehood in 1845 as the 27th state. At the beginning of the Civil War Florida was the third state to vote for Secession which she did on January 10, 1861. Confederate troops immediately took Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos) from the lone Union sergeant caretaker who asked for a receipt and travel money out of town. Believing the war would soon be over and would never come this far south, the Confederates removed most of the cannon from FortMarion and sent them to more strategic forts.

In March 1862, the Union Navy arrived off the coast of St. Augustine. With no guns for defense, Fort Marion was abandoned, and the Union forces took over. The St. Augustine area remained in Federal hands for the remainder of the war. With the St. Johns River heavily patrolled, Confederate blockade runners attempted to use the Matanzas Inlet during the War, but the Union army stationed a barge in the river near the fort ruins, and attempts to pass were unsuccessful.

Henry Flagler's Ponce de leon Hotel.
Henry Flagler's Ponce de Leon Hotel

The Flagler Era

During the late 19th century, St. Augustine became the destination of America's rich and famous. In 1885, railroad tycoon and former Standard Oil partner Henry Morrison Flagler moved Florida's resorts to a new level with his 540-room grand Ponce de León Hotel in St. Augustine. The first of three Flagler hotels in the city, the Ponce de León (now the main building of Flagler College) combined exotic Spanish Renaissance and Moorish architectural features with innovative poured concrete construction.

Whisked south in their private cars on Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad, notables such as the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Morgans made St. Augustine their winter home, expanding the old colonial city westward on King Street and north on San Marco. Many of the buildings downtown reflect this golden era. The Villa Zorayda, an exotic Moorish Revival style residence with courtyards and towers built in 1883 on King Street, is from this glittering time-period as is the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church (1880), and Castle Warden (1879), now Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.

President Calvin Coolidge
President Calvin Coolidge

Declared a National Monument

During the fall of 1924, President Calvin Coolidge declared Castillo de San Marcos (then known as Fort Marion) under the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act, to be a national monument. Forts Matanzas, Pulaski, Wood, and Castle Pinckney were included in the same signing. Later on, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought a variety of ways to stimulated the American economy during his first term in office. Among his many ideas was the decision to streamline the responsibilities of the National Park Service (NPS). Fort Marion and many other national monuments were transferred to the NPS on August 10, 1933. In 1942 Congress restored the name Castillo de San Marcos to commemorate the fort's Spanish heritage. Read More. . .

Last updated: July 24, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 South Castillo Drive
Saint Augustine, FL 32084


(904) 829-6506

Contact Us