The Mission San Luis de Apalachee as it may have appeared in the 17th century Indigenous peoples occupied this area for thousands of years before European encounter. Around AD , the large and complex Mississippian culture had built earthwork mounds near Lake Jackson which survive today; they are preserved in the Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park. During the 17th century they established several missions in Apalachee territory in order to procure food and labor to support their settlement, as well as to convert the natives to Roman Catholicism.
Hernando de Soto and his midth century expedition occupied the Apalachee town of Anhaica at what is now Tallahassee in the winter of — Based on archaeological excavations, this Anhaica site is now known to have been located about 0. The De Soto encampment is believed to be the first place that Christmas was celebrated in the continental United States although there is no historical documentation to back this claim.
They found large areas of cleared land previously occupied by the Apalachee tribe. The Creek and later refugees who joined them developed as the Seminole Indians of Florida. The first battle took place on November 12, Chief Neamathla, of the village of Fowltown just west of present-day Tallahassee, had refused Jackson's orders to relocate.
Jackson responded by entering the village, burning it to the ground, and driving off its occupants. The Indians later retaliated, killing 50 soldiers and civilians. Jackson reentered Florida in March According to Jackson's adjutant, Colonel Robert Butler, they "advanced on the Indian village called Tallahasse sic [where] two of the enemy were made prisoner. It established the Florida Territory in Augustine, the former capital of East Florida, traveled fifty-nine days by water to attend.
The second session was in St. Augustine, and western delegates needed 28 days to travel perilously around the peninsula to reach Pensacola. During this session, delegates decided to hold future meetings at a halfway point. Two appointed commissioners selected Tallahassee, at that point an abandoned Apalachee settlement, as a halfway point. In the third legislative session met there in a crude log building serving as the capitol.
In a Greek revival masonry structure was erected as the Capitol building in time for statehood. Now known as the "old Capitol", it stands in front of the high-rise Capitol building that was built in the s. A small engagement, the Battle of Natural Bridge , was fought south of the city on March 6, , just a month before the war ended.
A reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge During the 19th century, the institutions that would eventually develop as what is now Florida State University were established in Tallahassee; it became a university town. In West Florida Seminary was transferred to the Florida Institute building which had been established as an inducement for the state to place the seminary in Tallahassee.
In , the seminary absorbed the Tallahassee Female Academy and became coeducational. The legislature decided that Tallahassee was the best location In Florida for a college serving negro students; the state had segregated schools. Four years later its name was changed to State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students, to teach teachers for elementary school children and students in industrial skills.
After the Civil War much of Florida's industry moved to the south and east, a trend that continues today. The end of slavery and the rise of free labor reduced the profitability of the cotton and tobacco trade, at a time when world markets were also changing. The state's major industries shifted to citrus, lumber, naval stores , cattle ranching, and tourism.
The latter was increasingly important by the late 19th century. In the post-Civil War period, many former plantations in the Tallahassee area were purchased by wealthy northerners for use as winter hunting preserves.
This included the hunting preserve of Henry L. Beadel , who bequeathed his land for the study of the effects of fire on wildlife habitat. Today the preserve is known as the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy , nationally recognized for its research into fire ecology and the use of prescribed burning.
By the s there was a movement to transfer the capital to Orlando , closer to the growing population centers of the state. That movement was defeated; the s saw a long-term commitment by the state to the capital city, with construction of the new capitol complex and preservation of the old Florida State Capitol building.
In , the Census Bureau reported the city's population as In the old capitol, directly in front of the new capitol, was scheduled for demolition, but state officials decided to keep the Old Capitol as a museum.
Geography[ edit ] A view of both the historic and the current Florida State Capitols  Tallahassee has an area of Tallahassee's terrain is hilly by Florida standards, being located at the southern end of the Red Hills Region , just above the Cody Scarp. The city includes two large lake basins, Lake Jackson and Lake Lafayette , and borders the northern end of the Apalachicola National Forest.
The flora and fauna are similar to those found in the mid-south and low country regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The palm trees are the more cold-hardy varieties like the state tree, the Sabal palmetto. Pines, magnolias, hickories, and a variety of oaks are the dominant trees.
The Southern Live Oak is perhaps the most emblematic of the city. Nearby cities and suburbs[ edit ].