Florida is a town south of the Mohawk River in Montgomery County, New York, United States. The population was 2,696 in the 2010 United States Census. The town was named after the state of Florida. It is located in the eastern end of Montgomery County and is south of the City of Amsterdam, which it borders.
The first recorded contact by Europeans with local Mohawk, who had occupied the area for centuries, was the 1642 visit of Jesuit missionaries to the village Tiononderoge (in one of its variations). After failing to Christianize the Mohawk, forces from French Canada twice attacked the village in 1667 and 1693 during rising conflict with the people in the valley.
The Dutch, followed by the English, established trading relationships with the Mohawk from their bases in Albany and Schenectady. On a trip to London to visit Queen Anne in 1710, arranged by the Albany mayor Peter Schuyler, the Four Mohawk Kings asked for help in defense against the French, and for Anglican missionaries to offset French Catholic influence. (Numerous Catholic Mohawk had moved to the St. Lawrence River valley, where they settled in Kahnawake south of Montreal.)
The Crown authorized the construction of Fort Hunter near Tionondega in 1711; its fortified area included a wooden Anglican chapel, known as Queen Anne's chapel. The Crown also encouraged the sending of two Anglican missionaries. Some traders and other Europeans began to settle near the fort as well.
Later, William Johnson arrived as a young immigrant from Ireland to begin his illustrious colonial career, first as an overseer of property in the town. Learning the Mohawk language and ways, he was appointed British agent to the Iroquois in New York, and established strong relationships with them. The Crown later made him a baronet for his contributions, and he was appointed British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the northern colonies.
Due to the influence of Johnson and their long trading relationship with the British, the Mohawk and three other Iroquois nations allied with them during the American Revolution. With the British defeat, the United States forced the Mohawk and other allied Iroquois nations to cede nearly all their territory in New York. They resettled in Canada on land granted by the British Crown.
The town was founded by European Americans in 1793 on the anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de León. The Towns of Florida and Charleston divided the old "Town of Mohawk," ending its existence. A new Town of Mohawk was later created in a different part of the county.
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 eased transportation through the Mohawk Valley, connecting it to both the Great Lakes and the Hudson River and New York City markets. This greatly increased economic development in villages and cities along the canal.
In 1880, the "Village of Port Jackson" in the town was annexed to form part of the City of Amsterdam. Port Jackson had been an important port on the Erie Canal and a ferry station connecting the south side of the Mohawk River to the City of Amsterdam.