Land into Water--Water into Land: A History of Water Management in Florida

By Nelson Manfred Blake | Go to book overview

2 Early Boosters

I n the early nineteenth century, Americans displayed a passionate faith in "improvements." As the national boundaries steadily expanded, the need for transportation became urgent. Farmers, merchants, and manufacturers had to move themselves and their goods about the country. They wanted to have the oceans charted, lighthouses built, and ports equipped with wharves and breakwaters. They wanted rivers to be deepened and straightened and connecting canals to be built. They wanted the construction of highways and railroads. Assured by political philosophers that they were the more valuable class in society, farmers sought to acquire new fertile acres through drainage. Who was to pay for all these benefits? Whenever the cost was not excessive and the hope of return was great enough, private businessmen were eager to make the venture. It was an age of turnpike companies, canal companies, water companies, manufacturing companies, and banking companies. But many improvements cost too much, the benefits to be gained were too far in the future, and the probable profits were too small to be attractive to private capital. So demands for government spending were insistent. Everybody professed a belief in economical government, but everyone had his own favorite project for building roads, harbors, canals, or railroads. Some might need appropriations; others might need only land grants, and land was a resource that federal and state governments then owned in abundance.

Politicians came to differ on many aspects of the "internal improvements" issue. They set forth contrasting constitutional theories concerning the powers of the national government and state sovereignty. But the legislators usually reserved their constitutional scruples and budgetary fears for proposals involving other politicians' constituencies. Whether Federalist, Republican, Democrat,

-19-

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Land into Water--Water into Land: A History of Water Management in Florida
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Watery Eden 9
  • 2 - Early Boosters 19
  • 3 - The Big Dealers 42
  • 4 - The Flow Of Northern Dollars 62
  • 5 - The Progressive Challenge 88
  • 6 - Time of Troubles 113
  • 7 141
  • 8 - Struggle for Conservation 166
  • 9 - Environmentalists To The Recue 195
  • 10 - Florida Takes the Lead 223
  • 11 - Rival Prescriptions For South Florida 253
  • 12 - Water for the Future 276
  • Notes 303
  • Index 331
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