Hispanic-American History

The first Hispanics in what is now the U.S. were Spanish explorers and settlers. The Hispanic community in the United States has grown rapidly since the 1950s. The most common places of origin are Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

Florida Hist. Society -- "Ponce de Leon and Florida's Fountain of Youth"

Ponce de Leon, founder of Spanish Florida, is known for having sought the "Fountain of Youth", but in fact this story is most likely a myth.

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  • 1539 - Hernando de Soto's expedition lands on the gulf coast of Florida, marauds through the region, and crosses the Mississippi River.
  • 1565 - St. Augustine, Florida is founded -- currently the oldest European-established town in the United States.
  • 1608 - Santa Fe is founded in New Mexico and soon becomes the capital of that region. It develops as a remote outpost of colonial Spain.
  • 1769 - A Spanish colonization effort results in the founding of San Diego. San Francisco follows in 1776, and Los Angeles is founded in 1781 by forty-four settlers.
  • 1848 - United States greatly expands its territory in the Southwest after the Mexican-American War.
  • 1898 - After the Spanish-American war, the island of Puerto Rico becomes a U.S. territory. Puerto Ricans will become American citizens upon passage of the Jones Act in 1917.
  • 1942 - The Bracero program is created to secure labor in the midst of World War II, and will survive into the 1960s. Over 500,000 Mexicans had been deported during the Great Depression.
  • 1940s - East Los Angeles becomes increasingly Mexican-American as other groups move out. Los Angeles in general becomes a center of the Mexican community in the United States.
  • 1959 - Ritchie Valens is killed in an airplane crash after a meteoric rise to musical stardom. He is 17 years old.
  • 1960s - After the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, an exodus of Cuban refugees flee to Miami, Florida.
  • 1965 - Increased Mexican and Asian immigration is spurred by the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, having a particular effect on the demographics of the West Coast.
  • 1966 - Roberto Clemente becomes the first Hispanic to win a Most Valuable Player award in major league baseball.
  • 1970 - Cesar Chavez leads the United Farm Workers in the Salad Bowl Strike in California.
  • 2000s - Mexican immigration to the United States reaches around 750,000 people per year at its peak, before declining after 2007.
  • 2012 - Puerto Rico votes in the 2012 elections to potentially become the nation's 51st state.