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Henry Perrine was a physician, horticulturist, United Statesmarker Consul in Campeche, Campechemarker, Mexicomarker, and an enthusiast for introducing tropical plants into cultivation in the United States.

Henry Edward Perrine was born April 5, 1797 at Cranbury, New Jerseymarker. He taught school while still a youth, studied medicine, and then practiced medicine in Greenville, Illinoismarker for five years, while also helping with the Underground Railroad in the area. He married Ann Fuller Townsend while living in Illinois. In 1821 he was accidentally poisoned with arsenic, from which he never fully recovered, and moved to Natchez, Mississippimarker in the hope that the climate would aid his recovery. Three years later he was appointed United States Consul in Campeche, Mexicon, where he served for ten years.

While in Compeche, Perrine became interested in introducing tropical crops into the United States, and began sending seeds to people he knew in Florida. Through correspondence with Captain DeBose, the keeper at the Cape Florida Lightmarker, and with William A. Whitehead, mayor of Key West, Floridamarker, Perrine became convinced that the southern tip of Florida was the only place in the United States suitable for the introduction of tropical plants. On his return to the United States, he campaigned for a land grant on which he could start a plant introduction station. In 1838 the United States Congress granted Dr. Perrine a survey township (36 sq. mi.) in southern Florida.

While waiting for hostilities with the Seminoles to die down so that his land grant could be surveyed and settled, Perrine had taken up residence with his family on Indian Keymarker in the Florida Keysmarker. On August 7, 1840, Indians attacked Indian Key. Several people were killed, including Perrine, but his family escaped. Perrine had apparently selected Cape Sable as the site of his grant, but after his death his widow successfully petitioned to have the grant transferred to the shore of Biscayne Baymarker. Part of the Perrine Grant eventually became the community of Perrine, Florida.




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