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History Week of April 2-April 8

Ponce De Leon: He never did much of anything here except get himself killed.
A painting of Ponce De Leon and his men looking for the fountain of youth
Ponce de León's name wasn't tied to the Fountain of Youth until 14 years after his death. The Granger Collection, NYC

510 years ago this week, Europeans landed in Florida for the first time when Juan Ponce de León arrived. As Florida historian T. D. Allman wrote about it in the New York Times for the 500th anniversary, “he never did much of anything here except get himself killed.” Not only that, his credited “discovery” of Florida in 1510 is a bit of a misnomer at best as European maps had started including Florida as early as 1500. The linked story is great if you have access to it, if not, I’m happy to “gift” it to you.

And in case you're wondering, he wasn't looking for the fountain of youth. He was looking for power. "Despite debunking efforts ... the story of Ponce’s fountain just won’t die."

Also, this week in history, journalist, suffragist, champion of the Everglades and overall badass, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, Minnesota—six years before the founding of Miami, which sits on the Everglades. Fewer than 5,000 people lived in Miami when she arrived, shortly to become one of The Miami Herald’s earliest writers (thanks in no small part to her father owning it). Unfortunately, her iconic name is forever connected with the murder of 17 people, injuring of 17 others and terrorizing students across the entire nation, at the school bearing her name, Stoneman Douglas High School, in 2018 (note the number of injured was updated after this news article published).