Capital Buildings, Tallahassee, Florida
The photo shows both the old and new capital buildings in Tallahassee, Florida.The founding of Tallahassee was largely a matter of convenience. In 1821, Florida was ceded by Spain to the United States. A territorial government was established, but the impracticalities of alternately meeting in St. Augustine and Pensacola — the two largest cities in the territory at the time — led territorial governor William Pope Duval to appoint two commissioners to establish a more central meeting place.
In October 1823, John Lee Williams of Pensacola and Dr. William Simmons of St. Augustine selected the former Indian settlement of Tallahassee (roughly midway between the two cities) as a suitable place. Their decision was also based on its location near a beautiful waterfall — now part of Cascades Park — and the old capital of the Apalachee chiefdom. In March of the following year it was formally proclaimed the capital. Florida did not become a state, however, until 1845 (Tebeau:122).
On November 1, 1823, John Lee Williams wrote to Congressional Delegate (and later Florida Governor), Richard Keith Call, about the location of the capital:
"Doct. Simmons has agreed that the Site should be fixed near the old fields abandoned by the Indians after Jackson's invasion, but has not yet determined whether between the ... old fields, or on a fine high lawn about a mile W. In both spots the water is plenty and good."
The rough hewn frontier capital gradually grew into a town during Florida's territorial period. In anticipation of becoming a state, the territorial government erected a greek revival masonry structure that would befit a state capitol. The structure opened in 1845 in time for statehood and eventually become known as the "old Capitol" which stands in front of the current new capitol high rise today.
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