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The British expansion in Florida

Virginia and Florida in 1637.
Library of Congress
Virginia and Florida in 1637.

Although the Spanish initially claimed all of North America, the British refuted that and soon began colonizing the North Atlantic coast.

British colonies were commercial business enterprises financed by investors for a profit. The British first invaded Spanish Florida in 1585, with the failed Roanoke colony on today’s North Carolina coast. Their second attempt in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia was successful due to their production of tobacco. The British wanted more land for their plantations, and they expanded down the Atlantic coast farther into Spanish Florida, founding Charleston in 1670.

Within 30 years, the town grew into a colonial hub for the British, at the time, just as important as New York and Boston. From the beginning, Charleston was on the defense, afraid of Spanish retaliation. For protection, the colonists enclosed the town with earthen walls. Along the waterfront, there was a long, more fortified masonry wall.

Archaeologists have found remnants of the old city waterfront wall, as well as artifacts such as British ceramics, liquor bottles, and pipe stems.

Unearthing Florida is a project of WUWF Public Media, the Florida Public Archaeology Network(FPAN), and its founder, Dr. Judith Bense, since 1998. FPAN's Michael Thomin is a contributor to the program. WUWF's Sandra Averhart is the executive producer.

Dr. Judy Bense is President Emeritus and Professor of Anthropology/Archaeology at UWF.