Newspaper History

Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have a rich newspaper publishing history.

Florida’s Newspapers

Newspapers have a long and distinguished history in Florida, dating back to the East Florida Gazette, a Tory newspaper published in St. Augustine while the region was under British rule in 1783. There also is indirect evidence of a Spanish-language newspaper, El Telegrafo de las Floridas, being published at Fernandina in 1817. During this timeframe the Seminole Wars began. Lasting until around 1860, these “wars” were comprised of various intermittent conflicts between the various Native American populations, the black population and the white settlers of the region. After Florida was ceded by Spain to the US and became an American territory in 1821, The Floridian began publication in Pensacola and the Florida Gazette began publication in St. Augustine.

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Puerto Rico’s Newspapers

As the chronology of events in Puerto Rico suggests, the period between 1836 and 1922 was pivotal in the history of Puerto Rico. The major protagonists of this period—colonial authorities, the elite, political actors, labor activists, women, etc.—used newspapers to promote their activities. The result is that the connection between Puerto Rico’s newspapers and its history is intrinsic. In addition, newspapers of this period can bring to light the nature of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the US, a relationship that has been emblematic of the relationship between the US and Latin America in general.

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Virgin Islands’ Newspapers

The Virgin Islands archipelago consists of three larger islands –St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John—and multiple smaller islands and cays. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, 1,000 miles from Florida and south of the larger Caribbean islands. Carib Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus discovered them in 1493. In 1672, the Danish West India Company and the Danish Crown sponsored the settlement of the islands, which were named the Danish West Indies. By then the native population had disappeared. The economy was based on sugar plantations, and slavery became the source of labor. The location of the islands is extremely strategic. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the archipelago was the hub of the sea routes from Europe to North America and to south to other Caribbean islands. During the eighteenth century, the French, Dutch, and English fought over control of the islands.

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