Florida: Front-Line State in 1962: Mark Weisenmiller Explains How, Forty Years Ago, the `Sunshine State' Played a Pivotal Role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Cross Current)

By Weisenmiller, Mark | History Today, October 2002 | Go to article overview

Florida: Front-Line State in 1962: Mark Weisenmiller Explains How, Forty Years Ago, the `Sunshine State' Played a Pivotal Role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Cross Current)


Weisenmiller, Mark, History Today


THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS of forty years ago lasted from October 16th, 2002, when US President John F. Kennedy was informed that the Soviet Union was building and maintaining missiles and atomic weapons in Cuba, to November 1st, when the missiles were removed. Not surprisingly, it had many ramifications in Florida. Key West (the southernmost point of Florida, and of the land mass of the United States) is but ninety miles from the Communist Caribbean island nation.

Florida's ties to the Crisis range from the drastic (among the first Soviet targets for the SS-4 Sandal ballistic missiles stationed on Cuba were the cities of Jacksonville, Key West, Miami and Tampa) to the minute (much of the drinking water in the containers in bomb shelters in America came from springs near Lake Wales, which is almost exactly in the middle of the state).

Florida was then, as now, one of the most popular tourist destinations for people from all over the world, and the Crisis occurred near the beginning of the state's tourist season (which lasts from October to April). Three of Florida's major sources of income have always been the cattle, citrus fruits and tourism industries. In the tense atmosphere of the Missile Crisis, Governor Farris Bryant, State Senator George Smathers and other key authorities of the state government never forgot the role of tourism in bringing billions of dollars to the state's economy. During the Crisis one woman called the Police Department in Bradenton on the west coast to ask if it was safe for her to visit Florida. The Police Chief still encouraged her to visit the `Sunshine State'.

When Bryant, Smathers and other major government players weren't hawking tourism, they were dealing with the day-to-day developments of the Crisis. Hard as it may be for us to comprehend in 2002, they were not made fully cognisant of the basic facts of the matter before President Kennedy's address to the nation at 7pm Eastern Standard Time, October 22nd. They learned of the severity of situation at just the same time as the American public.

To the credit of the Governor and State Senator, they reacted quickly--and, more importantly, in a responsible manner--after hearing the President's speech in which he told the world (most) of what was going on in the Caribbean. Mere hours afterwards, Bryant put Florida National Guard and Civil Defense units on `alert status' and sent President Kennedy a telegram: `I listened to your message to the American people with complete approval, and I assure you that the government and people of Florida are prepared to stand with you in every way'.

Governor Bryant told staff at the headquarters of the Florida National Guard building in St Augustine to stay on call twenty tour hours a day. Like JFK, Bryant and Senator Smathers were Democrats. Smathers, who was up for re-election in 1962, told H.W. Tarkington, Florida's Civil Defence Director, `to be ready for possible enemy action', according to a United Press International dispatch, from Jacksonville, dated October 22nd, 1962. Smathers, a close friend of Kennedy's, was one of sixteen Congressmen who met in a closed meeting with the President and who were informed by JFK that he planned to announce a quarantine of Cuba.

Thus the attitude of the two main officials of the state government during the Crisis was one of preventive measure-taking. Civil defence replaced legislative work as the state government's top priority, from October 23rd until the 28th, when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev announced the withdrawal of the Russian-made missiles. Each of Florida's counties stocked medical supplies in school infirmaries. Civil defence fliers--telling people what to do in case of disaster--were printed and put in all state government buildings.

Hovering around all of the activities of the state authorities During the crisis was the spectre of tens of thousands of Cuban exiles, living in Miami in particular. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Florida: Front-Line State in 1962: Mark Weisenmiller Explains How, Forty Years Ago, the `Sunshine State' Played a Pivotal Role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Cross Current)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.