Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument is a historic district, within which is located in a Spanish Fort in 1740. It covers an area of one hundred acres and is a barrier along the Matanzas River, in the northern Atlantic coast of Florida.
It is run jointly with the National Monument Castillo de San Marcos, and several historic monuments in the city of St. Augustine.
Fort Matanzas was built to protect the south of the Matanzas River, which was used as entry to St. Augustine. This method of entry into the city made pointless the security system, which was located in the Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740 Governor James Oglethorpe of Georgia used the entrance to block the city of St. Augustine and keep it under siege purposes for thirty-nine days.
The city withstood a long siege, but the Spaniards realized the need for stronger security system to protect in the future from enemy raids. Governor Manuel de Montiano began construction in 1740 and in 1742 construction of the fort was finally completed. For its construction were used slaves. The Fort was located on Rattlesnake Island, where it is best to defend the entrance to the city.
Archaeologists say that before Europeans arrived in Florida, about twelve thousand years ago, there lived people who made a living by hunting and collecting fruits and sweet roots. They chased herds of mammoths and other large animals and also gathered nuts and other seasonal gifts of nature. It is not known how these people called themselves, but according to archaeologists they were paleo- Indians.
In 1564, a group of French Protestants known as Huguenots, settled in the territory that was declared Spain’s. When the king of Spain heard about this event, he sent an army under the command of Don Pedro Menéndez, which organized a real massacre, to be raise on this place a Spanish colony. There was a city of St. Augustine. It was founded in 1565 and so began 235 years of Spanish rule and control over Florida.
During the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War, the British managed to seize Spanish Cuba and the Philippines. To recover these valuable colonies again, Spain was forced to cede Florida. England failed to control Florida for over twenty years. After the American Revolution, Florida was returned back to Spain. Thus began the second Spanish period. In the nineteenth century, the Spaniards had too little money to maintain their colony in Florida and abandoned Fort Matanzas. Erosion and torrential rains caused severe damage to the building.
In 1821, when Florida passed into the United States, Fort Matanzas was in a state of near total ruin. The Civil War and Spanish-American War followed.
Wealthy tourists, however, at this particular time streamed forth to the city of St. Augustine, as the railroad had already worked up many luxury hotels. This led to the restoration and preservation of ancient Spanish counters, which were a preferred destination for wealthy tourists. Fort Matanzas was proclaimed a national monument in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.