A city only gets one bicentennial.

Jacksonville deserves a moment to reflect on its first 200 years and look ahead to the next 200.

Dear Jacksonvillians,

The countdown to our city’s bicentennial has begun. But let us first take a step back in time to set the stage for our commemoration next year.

The founding of Jacksonville was a rather informal moment – which makes it all the more important that citizens commemorate and celebrate the bicentennial of the founding.

Jacksonville’s name appeared first on a petition dated June 15, 1822, addressed to then U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams asking him to designate “Jacksonville,” in the U.S. Territory of Florida, as a port of entry. Sixty-one residents of the St. Johns River signed the request. Adams denied their petition, but after that, the name “Jacksonville” began to supplant previous references to “the cow-ford,” or “cowford.”

It would be nearly ten years, in February 1832, before the territorial legislature granted a local government charter to Jacksonville. But the development of Jacksonville, by people using that name, began in June of 1822, so that is the date and evidence that historians cite as its founding.

A city only gets one bicentennial. Jacksonville deserves a moment to reflect on its first 200 years, and to glance ahead at the next 200.

Alan J. Bliss, Ph.D.
CEO, Jacksonville Historical Society

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