Ponce de Leon Claims Florida 

Ponce de Leon Claims Florida 

U.S. #4750-53 were issued on the 500th anniversary of León’s landing.

On April 3, 1513, Ponce de León landed on the Florida coast and claimed the area for Spain.

A decade earlier, Portuguese sailors are believed to have been the first Europeans to see and map the area that would become the southeastern United States. As early as 1511 rumors concerning undiscovered islands northwest of Hispaniola reached Spain, whose leaders were anxious to be the first to find them. Ponce de León was selected to have the honor, as a reward for his previous successes.

The contract granted León the rights to the discovery of Benimy and the nearby islands for three years. Additionally, he would be made governor for life of any lands he discovered. Though the contract didn’t mention it, many believe part of León’s mission was to search for the mythical Fountain of Youth.

U.S. #4750-53 FDC – 2013 La Florida First Day Cover.

The contract also stipulated that León conduct the expedition at his own expense. So he gathered three ships and 200 or more men and set out from Punta Aguada, Puerto Rico, on March 4, 1513. In late March they sighted an island (possibly in the Bahamas or the Florida mainland) but didn’t land. Then on April 2 they saw land again, believing it to be another island.

U.S. #2024 was issued at the ESPAMER ’82 Philatelic Exhibition in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The next day, April 3, 1513, León led his ships toward the shore. As their ships drew nearer to the coast, the Spanish crew was treated to a burst of color. The deep blue waters they were navigating were framed by a wave of lush vegetation and brilliantly hued flowering plants.

U.S. #2024 FDC – Ponce de León Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

It’s a matter of debate just where León came ashore. Possible sites include St. Augustine, Ponce de León Inlet, or Melbourne Beach. León stepped ashore, claimed the land for Spain, and named it La Florida, or “Feast of Flowers,” which is a reference to the Easter celebration in Spain. León is often considered to be the first documented European explorer in Florida. Though there is evidence that Spanish raiders may have gone there in secret, and some Native Americans knew some Spanish words, León was the first officially sanctioned to go there. The expedition spent a few hours exploring the area before returning to their ships. They then sailed south to map the coast.

In 1521, León returned to Florida to start a colony, but died from wounds he received in a battle with Indians.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
[Total: 48 Average: 4.9]

Share this article

6 responses to "Ponce de Leon Claims Florida "

6 thoughts on “Ponce de Leon Claims Florida ”

  1. “La Florida, or “Feast of Flowers. Stamp #4750-53 – what a beauty. As spring arrives so will delicate flowers. Their splash of colors should be enjoyed. Allow our inner beauty and love to preside. Thank you Mystic Stamp Company.


Leave a Comment

Love history?

Discover events in American history – plus the stamps that make them come alive.

Subscribe to get This Day in History stories straight to your inbox every day!