Florida Politics in the Gilded Age, 1877-1893

Florida Politics in the Gilded Age, 1877-1893

Florida Politics in the Gilded Age, 1877-1893

Florida Politics in the Gilded Age, 1877-1893

Excerpt

The Republican Reconstruction government remained in power in Florida for eight stormy years. Handicapped by its dependence upon the black vote, the state's poor economic condition, and the hostility of the majority of white citizens, it finally went down in defeat in the disputed election of 1876.

The leadership of the incoming Democrats lay with an oligarchy composed of their county leaders, since the victorious gubernatorial candidate, George F. Drew, was virtually a political unknown before the campaign. The manner in which Drew and the other Bourbon governors met the problems facing them moulded the complex political patterns of present day Florida. That they and the county leaders left few official and personal records was in keeping with their utilitarian philosophy. All who work in Florida history owe a major debt of gratitude to the late Julien C. Yonge of the University of Florida, not only for his collection of newspapers and manuscripts, but for the knowledge that he was always willing to share.

In telling the story of Bourbon politics I am obliged to Dr. James Miller Leake of the University of Florida. Dr. Leake first encouraged me to examine the career of Senator Wilkinson Call. This book is a continuation of a dissertation written under the kindly and encouraging supervision of Dr. Roy F. Nichols of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. W. E. Baringer of the University of Florida generously evaluated the original manuscript. The grant- in-aid and research professor programs of Auburn University made possible the preparation of the final draft.

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