By Bill Federer, staff writer
The first European settlement in North America was Fort Caroline at St. John’s River in Florida, founded by French Christians known as Huguenots.
On JUNE 30, 1564, they set a day of Thanksgiving and offered the first Protestant prayer in North America:
“We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us.”
Rep. Charles E. Bennett sponsored a bill, September 21, 1950, establishing the Fort Caroline National Memorial.
In 1989, Rep. Bennett 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.”
Charles 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.”
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.”
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