THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Juan Ponce de Leon First Sighted the Florida Peninsula In 1513
By Florida Historical Society // March 27, 2016
Later, was attacked by native tribes and killed
On March 27, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon first sighted the Florida peninsula on this date, although he would not go ashore until April 2. The peninsula was sighted and mistaken for an island, which Ponce de Leon named “La Florida.”
Ponce, who was most recently the Governor of Puerto Rico, set sail from that island on March 4th with three ships and approximately 200 men heading north towards an unknown landmass referred to as Biminy.
After sailing northwest for several weeks along what is now known as the Bahamas, they spotted an island that was unfamiliar to the sailors, many believe that island was actually mainland Florida, and on April 2nd the fleet again sighted land and Ponce named the island, claiming it for Spain.
The party did not attempt to establish any permanent settlement on the newly discovered land, but instead sailed around the southern tip of Florida and around the west coast making intermittent forays on land, eventually returning to Puerto Rico on October 19.
In 1521, Ponce again sailed to Florida but this time to colonize. Soon after landing in southwest Florida, the party was attacked by native tribes and Ponce received a fatal injury.