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The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León.

This would be the first introduction of much of the English-derived legal system which Florida still has today including trial by jury, habeas corpus and county-based government.

This would be the first permanent English-speaking population in what is now Duval County, Baker County, St. The British built good public roads and introduced the cultivation of sugar cane, indigo and fruits as well the export of lumber.

As a result of these initiatives northeastern Florida prospered economically in a way it never did under Spanish administration.

The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times.

Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and Fort Matanzas in 1742 to defend Florida's capital city from attacks, and to maintain its strategic position in the defense of the Captaincy General of Cuba and the Spanish West Indies.

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