Florida Politics in the Early 20th Century Essay

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Outline – Chapter 19 – Florida Politics

I. Florida Politics Early 20th century a) Florida has unique history and geography. North Florida linked with Deep South, while southern Florida more linked to Caribbean. b) Segregation and Jim Crow laws (and Florida’s regressive poll tax) made blacks second class citizens for years. c) 1900 – Florida had smallest population of any Southern state. Most of the state was undeveloped and wild. d) Distance played a factor. Key West to Pensacola is about as far as Pensacola to Chicago. Few roads, linked cities. e) Economy more diversified than other Southern states. Tobacco, phosphate mining, timber, citrus, tourism, and cattle ranching all meant cotton was not as “king” in Florida. f) Smaller black population meant race not as crucial as other Southern states. g) Northern Florida most populous initially, up until 1940s. Northern Florida dominated seminal foundations of Democratic Party and state government. h) After 1940s, South Florida passes North Florida in population growth but maintains existing institutions. “Cincinnati Factor” II. Democratic Maneuvers a) “Bourbon” Democrats have stranglehold on Florida politics. Founded by large planters and rich businessmen. b) Democrats attack Populists (and later Progressives). Republicans virtually non-existent, though third parties like the Independent Party occasionally make gains. c) Poll Tax – disenfranchised poor whites and blacks alike. Separate primaries for whites and blacks discouraged cross-racial politics. d) “White Primary” – Democrats would not allow blacks to vote in Democratic primary. Decision upheld by courts until declared unconstitutional by US Supreme Court in 1944. e) Democratic Party in such tight control that conservatives had to run as Democrats to get elected. Democratic Party, though usually unified in November, was splintered the rest of the time. f) Progressive policies adopted by William Jennings and Napoleon Broward. Both wanted new economic development in Florida, but only if it benefited Floridians. Big business frequently at odds, and Florida too poor to finance much improvement on her own. g) Business interests only lured by cheap land for development. Few roads and spotty utilities stopped non-agricultural growth h) Segregation a keystone. Most laws in place by 1910. i) Wilson and World War I caused restructure of race relationships. Blacks were conscripted, and wanted to show patriotism, but did not fight alongside whites. Generally, menial jobs. Some black units were loaned to France, where they performed admirably. 369th Infantry – most decorated unit in WWI. j) Black migration from Florida and the South to the Northeast and Midwest to escape segregation. Labor shortage in the North meant opportunities. k) Eventually, black migration affected labor pool – efforts to stop migration failed. l) Rosewood 1923 – entire black town burned by white supremacists. m) 1917 - Governor Sidney Catts – former preacher who ran on anti-black, anti-alcohol, and anti-Catholic platform. Shook up Democratic machine. n) Succeeded by Cady Hardee (1921) – Democrat bosses try to prevent another Catts by strengthening party rules. III. Boom and Bust a) Florida has economic boom to start the 1920s. b) Land sales in South Florida. Unmatched immigration leads to high demand for land. New towns spring up. Developers open up entire cities in South Florida – Boca Raton, Deerwood Beach, Palm Beach, others c) 1925 – lack of regulation of the speculators leads to meteoric economic crash. By the time of the Great Depression, Florida had already been in a depression for four years. d) Governor Doyle Carlton attempted to raise taxes to meet budget shortfalls, but met with resistance. His…