The French Christian Huguenots in Florida set a day of Thanksgiving and offered the first Protestant prayer in North America

Commemorating the French Huguenots and their attempt at seeking religious freedom in America, Rep. Charles E. Bennett sponsored a bill on Sept. 21, 1950, to establish the Fort Caroline National Memorial. In 1989, he recited the history:

“The 425th anniversary of the beginning settlements by Europeans … renamed from Fort Caroline to San Mateo, to San Nicolas, to Cowford and finally to Jacksonville in 1822. … Three small ships carrying 300 Frenchmen led by Rene de Laudonniere anchored in the river known today as the St. Johns. …”

Rep. Bennett continued:

“On June 30, 1564, construction of a triangular-shaped fort … was begun with the help of a local tribe of Timucuan Indians. … Home for this hardy group of Huguenots … their strong religious … motivations inspired them.”

The French Christian Huguenots in Florida set a day of Thanksgiving and offered the first Protestant prayer in North America on June 30, 1564:

“We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us.”

Rep. Bennett related the colony’s unfortunate end:

“Fort Caroline existed but for a short time. … Spain … captured … the fort and … slaughtered most of its inhabitants in September of 1565.”

The Spanish Governor of Florida, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, then founded St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565 – the first permanent settlement in North America.

Other early settlements were:

  • 1607 – English Colony of Jamestown
  • 1608 – French Colony of Quebec
  • 1624 – Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam (New York)
  • 1638 – Swedish Colony of New Sweden (Delaware & New Jersey)

Adam Smith wrote in “The Wealth of Nations,” 1776:

“The Spaniards, by virtue of the first discovery, claimed all America as their own, and … such was … the terror of their name, that the greater part of the other nations of Europe were afraid to establish themselves in any other part of that great continent. … But … the defeat … of their Invincible Armada … put it out of their power to obstruct any longer the settlements of the other European nations. In the course of the 17th century … English, French, Dutch, Danes, and Swedes … attempted to make some settlements in the new world.”

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