Fact or Fiction: St. Augustine

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that 2019 is off to a happy and promising start. Today is National Trivia Day, and we’re celebrating at Governor’s House with a little bit of St. Augustine trivia. See if you can separate fact from fiction with these seven true or false questions, originally part of the certification test for hopeful interpretive guides of the Historic Saint Augustine Preservation Board. After you have your answers, read on to find out which statements are true, and which are legend!

  1. The Castillo de San Marcos is operated by the National Park Service.
  2. Christopher Columbus sought to prove the world was round.
  3. St. Augustine participated in illegal trade with the British North American colonies during the 1730s.
  4. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, transferred Florida from Spain to the United States.
  5. The Spanish Inn (also known as the DeMesa Sanchez House) is an original structure, not a reconstruction.
  6. During the British period East Florida provided a haven for Loyalist refugees.
  7. There were no slaves in St. Augustine during the First Spanish Period because there was no plantation economy in Florida at that time.
A colorful map of Florida and Bahamas from 1775.
Jefferys, Thomas. The Peninsula and Gulf of Florida, or New Bahama Channel, with the Bahama Islands. 1775.

Ready to find out if your answers were correct?

  1. True! The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, and has been operated by the National Park Service since 1933.
  2. False! Christopher Columbus knew the Earth was round, which is why he proposed that he could reach India from Spain by sailing west rather than east. What he didn’t know was that what would become North and South America was blocking his path, and instead of finding India, he found the Americas.
  3. True! St. Augustine relied on an annual situado (government subsidy of money, goods, and food shipped from Mexico), but this fluctuated from year to year and did not always meet their needs. The townspeople had to rely on illegal trade with outsiders, and a brisk exchange of oranges, naval stores, and other local products for English manufactured goods flourished. During this time, it was not uncommon to see Spanish ships from St. Augustine at the port of Charleston.
  4. False! The 1763 Treaty of Paris was signed between Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, following the end of the French and Indian War. In the treaty, Britain gained Florida as a territory. Spain regained control of Florida after the American Revolution in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and it wasn’t until 1821, when the Adams-Onis Treaty took effect, that Spain ceded Florida to the United States and it became an official American territory.
  5. True! The DeMesa-Sanchez house has been added on to many times in its history, but the original structure of the house built in 1740 remains today. The one-room home was first owned by Antonio de Mesa, a Royal Treasury shore guard. Today it is open to the public as part of the Colonial Quarter complex on St. George Street.
  6. True! Many Loyalist families fled to East Florida, and Saint Augustine in particular, from Georgia and the Carolinas.
  7. False! Slavery and the slave trade was part of the culture of Saint Augustine from its earliest days. In fact, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the founder of the town, brought black slaves with him as part of the group of original settlers.

We hope you learned some new fun facts about St. Augustine that you can pass on to your friends and family!

One thought on “Fact or Fiction: St. Augustine

  1. Pingback: Elevating the Art of Architectural Elevations – Governor's House Library

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