The story of Miami begins more than 10,000 years ago with a settlement of Paleo-Indians along the edge of south Biscayne Bay near today's Charles Deering Estate. Many millennia later, Tequesta Indians entered the lush, subtropical area and built settlements stretching from the Florida Keys to Broward County, with the largest concentrations along the north bank of the Miami River and on Key Biscayne.
Like Florida's other native inhabitants, who numbered more than 350,000 at the time of the Spanish entrada in 1513, the lifestyle of the Tequestas changed radically, and for the worse, following the Spanish arrival. Victims of disease, war and other dislocations, the Tequestas, along with Florida's other native populations, had virtually vanished 250 years after the entry of the Spanish.
Beginning in 1565, Spain exercised control over Florida for nearly 250 years. Spain's colonization effort is divided into two eras separated by a twenty-year British interregnum in the late eighteenth century.
During the Second Spanish Period, which stretched from 1784 to 1821, Spain liberalized her settlement policies in an effort to develop her colony, encouraging, in addition to her own countrymen, residents of other lands and faiths to settle in Florida. In the early 1800s, a few Bahamian families accepted Spanish land offers along the Miami River and on Biscayne Bay, and farmed in those lush areas.
In 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States for five million dollars in Spanish damage claims against the American government. One year later, Florida became a territory, marking the beginning of its march toward statehood. In 1830, Richard Fitzpatrick, a prominent figure in the politics of Territorial Florida, purchased the Bahamian-held lands on the Miami River, and established a slave plantation over a portion of them. Sixty slaves cultivated Fitzpatrick's land. Fitzpatrick, however, abandoned his plantation soon after the commencement of the Second Seminole War.