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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Fla. Pers. 44AB
subject: Gloria Jahoda
interviewer: Samuel Proctor
?: The American Association for State and Local History presents
History in the Sunshine, a program about Florida, featuring historian,
biographer and novelist, Mrs. Gloria Jahoda, of Tallahassee.
With Dr. Samuel Proctor, Distinguished Service Professor of History
at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Mrs. Jahoda is
author of the book Florida, A Bicentennial History, part ofAseries
entitled The States in the Nation, consisting of a history of every
state, plus the District of Columbia. And now, Mrs. Jahoda and
P: Well, we have the/Vs; longest history of any state in the Union.
J: We're the oldest, and in some ways, we're the youngest, some of
P: The oldest?
J: .... frontiers have just been developed, and certainly, we were here
long before Jamestown, Virginia, I think that's important to
P: Florida's frontier stretches all the way from the Perdido River
in west Florida, to the Florida Keys.
J: You might even say, Sam, that it stretches to the moon. (Laughs)
P: (Laughing) That's right, we forget the kind of work that went
on the 19505g and 19605# at Cape Canaveral, and at the Kennedy,
Kennedy Space Center.
P: So Florida's history, then, is all, stretches all the way from the
conquistadors of the sixteenth century to the moon shots of the
Fla. Pers. 44AB 2
P: twentieth century.
J: Yes, it does.
P: And, of course, you were able to include all of this in a relatively
J: Yes, it wasn't easy.
P: I was remembering when we were celebrating the bicentennial and you
wrote one of the volumes in the bicentennial series....
P: ....that we were celebrating, the nation was celebrating it's
P: But, uh, Florida was already an established area for more than
200 years when 1776. came along, we really can look back on half
a millennia of written history in this state.
J: Yes, we can, and what was terribly funny, of course, about the
bicentennial was the fundamental fact that Florida did not revolt.
J: Florida, at that time, was British and remained totally loyal to
P:: Absolutely, we hear so much about the thirteen states, the thirteen
colonies, and east Florida, and west Florida were the fourteenth
and fifteenth colonies.
J: And they distinguished themselves by burning Patrick Henry in
P: Right in St. Augustine, in the square, just as soon as they got
news that, uh, the Declaration of Independence had been signed.
Fla. Pers. 44AB 3
P: There were celebrations, bonfires, dancing in the streets, and
carnivals elsewhere in the emerging United States, but there was
lamentation and tears in Florida.
J: Very definitely, because they wanted the King of England to keep
footing the bills, they didn't want their taxes raised.
P: Well, they, they weren't really paying any taxes at all, and so
long as they remained royal colonies, Parliament picked up the tab
P: Plus-the fact, as you point out in your histories, including the
bicentennial history, Florida's long seacoast, it's Gulf coast and
it's Atlantic coast, were very vulnerable to attack. The French
fleet was hovering around, uh, there was every possibility that the
enemy could move in to Pensacola and St. Augustine.
P: And these Floridians needed the redcoats here....
J: Very much so.
P: .... so they were very welcome.
P: And there weren't many tea drinkers in Florida at the time, so they
were hardly worried about that.
J: That's not a traditional Florida drink.
P: It is certainly not a traditional Florida, Florida drink, there's
no, there's no orange juice associated with it whatsoever.
P: Gloria, let's talk about you.
J: All right.
Fla. Pers. 44AB 4
P: Where are you from?
J: I'm from Chicago, Illinois, I am not a native Floridian.
P: Well, you didn't have to add that, now. I know that that's far
up north. How long have you lived in the state?
J: I've lived i-n Florida since 1963, fifteen years.
P: I'm kind of curious about what brought you here, because you're so
much identified now as an interpreter of the state's history.
J: I know, and it's a strange thing, really. We came in 1963, when my
husband joined the faculty of Florida State University, in the
School of Library Science. And I had-written two novels before I
came down, but when I came here, it was so very different from
anything I'd ever known, I needed a book to really help me interpret
it, and there was no one book that could do this, and I thought,
"Well, I'm a writer, then I'm going to write one, for my own
satisfaction, and hopefully for the rest of the country to learn
about an area of America that's not as well known." I had to get
background on my adopted state, and a lot of it was done just by
me taking my car into the back reaches of north Florida, and
interviewing people that I found there. I would explain who I was,
that I was writing a book about the area, that I needed people's
help, and to a man, really, they were very friendly, and they talked
with me, I talked to professional snake catchers, and I talked to
a hermit, and I talked to a woman who had been a servant of an
English composer who had lived here. I just sought out as many
people as I could, and interviewed them, and then tried to piece
together in my head what I had learned.
P: 'Course, this is what we're trying to do with oral history, now.Ai
Fla. PErs., 44AB 5
J: Yes, very much so.
P: As we sit down with a tape recorder now, and record these interviews,
and put them into the archives, and of course, that adds to our
information, our basic information about areas.
J: It adds immeasurably, and, and here I would have to say what I
always say, "Don't throw out grandma's letters, they may be very
P: Or diaries.
J: Or diaries. And listen to her before she dies.
P: That's right, sit down with a tape recorder and talk to her, and
all the other old timers.
P: In all the other areas of this state, you were writing about north
Florida, weren't you?
J: Yes, I was, in that particular book.
P: But the, the rich, there is rich history in every area of Florida
that needs to be ferretted out by other Gloria Jahodas sitting
down and talking to the old timers in this state.
J: Very definitely.
P: You found these people were friendly?
J: Oh, I found they were extremely friendly, and very pleased that I
was doing the book and I found the same thing when I came to be
doing Florida history, people were certainly friendly in all parts
of the state, very understanding, very sympathetic.
P: Has north Florida changed much in the way of getting around from
1963 to the present?
J: Oh, certainly, the, the train service has disappeared, and roads
Fla. Pers. 44AB 6
J: that were dirt roads when I first took them have since been paved.
We had no, ~h1:t I was a northerners would have called a real
department store in Tallahassee, but now we have shopping malls,
all this change has come, and very significantly there was one
psychiatrist in Tallahassee when we moved here, and now the phone
book is full of them because we've acquired modern America and
it's ills as well as it's conveniences.
P: Gloria, you said you've gathered a lot of the information for this
book, and of course, for your other books, by working in the library.
P: Do we have a strong bibliography of Florida history?
J: I think we have a, a very strong one, and, however, I think you
need to be a little bit sophisticated about what you're looking
for. This was my problem in the beginning, I really wasn't sure
what I was looking for, and where to get all of it.
P: In addition to the books, what about primary sources, like newspapers,
J: Oh, newspaper Jgr very, very important, and I think we're strong in
our collection of newspapers, I think the librarians of the past
have done an excellent job, sometimes gathering collections of
clippings which you can use. I found this particular true in
P: What about things like courthouse records, did you use those?
J: I did not use those directly, no. I, I'm not terribly sophisticated
in terms of records of that sort.
P: Gloria, your sources for your histories have been mainly talking
with people, then?
Fla. Pers. 44AB 7
J: Mainly talking with people, reading what I consider good secondary
sources, after some soul searching evaluation, primary sources, in
many cases, but what I've really been trying to do, instead of
original painstaking research, is to bring to the people an
interpretation of what I have found, and to try and produce readable
books that the layman can identify with and understand.
P: I think it's also interesting to note that you're not alone, people
coming into Florida, and people are moving in from all parts of
the United States, and in fact, from all parts of the world, are
becoming increasingly interested in Florida, and obviously, this
is a state that has a very rich and colorful history. There has
been a real growing emphasis the last dozen years or so, and perhaps
since World War II, on local history, as you and I both know....
P: .... after World War, after the Civil War, we became interested in
national history here in the United States, and the professional
historians began to look down their noses at local history, and
said that this was only something that the genealogists and the
antiquarians were interested in. But the situation has changed in
the last several years, and I think that is one of the reasons
why historians like you, writers like you, have become so popular.
If you're dealing with local history.
J: And it's very important.
P: It's a very important area for students to, researchers to be
working in, and I think as we emphasize more and more the researching
and writing of state and local history, community histories, the
institutions on the local level, we need to train our students to
Fla. Pers. 44AB 8
P: work in these areas.
J: I believe we do, yes.
P: Gloria, with these three books under your belt, and a number of
articles about Florida.which have appeared in national journals,
and the fact that you have written a lot of poetry with Florida
as a theme, is this what brought you to the point of agreeing to
write this bicentennial history of Florida?
J: Oh, very definitely, and actually, I couldn't wait to write it
because when I was asked, it was almost miraculous, a full-blown
outline just popped into my head, and when I talked with my
editor about it, he agreed that that was really what he wanted,
so it was just a delightful experience from beginning to end.
P: What were you trying to do with this book?
J: I was trying to explain to Florida and also to the rest of America
what Florida is, and it's relation to the rest of the United
P: Now, you were not trying to write this as a professional historian?
J: Oh, definitely not, no. No, I was, uh, going into it as a popular
writer, if you will, even with some poetic features about the book
I wanted to convey the sense of Florida, and do this artistically,
rather than simply in a scholarly way.
P: It's another point to show also that while we think about the
Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, and the settlement o*i Jamestown as
the beginning of American history, in fact, we can go back much
earlier than that in Florida.
J: Very much so, and of course, we have a war between St. Augustine
and Pensacola because Pensacola had the first Spaniards, but they
Fla. Pers. 44AB 9
J: didn't stick, and St. Augustine had the first permanent STpirds-.
P: That's right, Christan De Luna M4' came into St. Augustine in
the 1550g /[.y
P: AN/and of course, Menendez was successful in St. Augustine in 1565,
which means that when Jamestown came along, St. Augustine was a
settled community, it had a police force,'there was a library
there, it even had a street lighting system....
P: .... a couple of paved streets, a central plaza, a church, so
Florida can take pride in the fact that we can really backtrack
a little bit on American history.
J: Yes, we can, and the great paradox of this, of course, is that today,
you can go into the Florida Everglades and find Indians who do not
P: So many myths have grown up about Florida's long history, tand I
know that you ran into many of these. One of the most interesting
stories, however, of the early Spanish period was the *rq Ortiz,
Ortiz story which you tell about in your book. What was it?
J: Well, Juan Ortiz was a Spaniard who was captured by the Indians,
and he was about to be executed by a chief called Herehigua (?),
and Herehigua didn't like the Spanish much because he had had his
nose cut off by the Spanish, and I believe they killed his mother.
And he was about to kill Juan Ortiz, but his daughter pleaded for
the life of Ortiz, who, legend tells us, was very harldsome1 ,/nd
Chief Herehigua spared her. Well, this was written about, and
Fla. Pers 44AB 10
J: later on, Captain John Smith picked it up, and I don't like to
accuse the dead of plagiarism, but it looks very, very suspicious
that Pocahontas really was the daughter of a Florida chief whose
name was, and the girl's name was not Pocahontas.
P: Yeah, I think this is really true now, we know for instance that
this story was published in a volume which was translated and
appeared in England at the time that John Smith had returned....
J: Oh, yes.
P: ....from Virginia, and he probably read it there, and....
J: He had access to it, yes.
P: and John Smith was not at all adverse to using this kind of
thing to make a point or to make a case on his own behalf. It
amazes me what you were able to include in these 200 pages, and
yet, I guess your biggest problem is what you were forced to leave
J: It was, I, I'm, for instance, extremely fond of the Greek fishermen
of Tarpon Springs, and I had devoted a lot of space to them in my
earlier book about the Tampa Bay area, and I couldn't give as much
space to them as I had wanted to in this book, they're immensely
P: And you also didn't say very much about the wars that Florida was
involved in, except you, of course you do mention the Second
J: Yes, yes.
P: ....and a little bit about the Civil War, and a little bit about
the Spanish-American War, but it seems to me you were talking about
peace rather than the military.
Fla. Pers. 44AB 11
J: Oh, yes, I really had to be talking about peace, because although
Florida's wars are well known, and of course ?I rolls in the Spanish
American War, we practically fomented that thing in Tampa, with
the Cuban population there. But I felt that, by and large, I wanted
to take Florida as an entity as a whole, apart from the separate
events, and I saw that whole as more peace than war.
P: Gloria, one of the things that I was curious about when I read
your book, and knowing you like I did, do, what about women in
Florida, have women played a very active role in the history of
J: Some women have, we think immediately of course, of Mary McCloud
Bethune, and her great school for blacks, her pioneering work in
black education after the Civil War, but by and large, I don't
think women have been as eminent here, and that has to do with
Florida's relationship to the south as a whole. Southern women
have not been aggressors in the history of the United States.
They may be becoming to be aggressors, I've heard them described
in modern times as "steel magnolias", which I think is an interesting
description. But, by and large, women have stayed at home.
P: It takes as long to go, I believe, from, or the distance from
Miami to Pensacola is approximately the distance from Miami to
P: This is a giant state. Now, are we talking about a single state,
or in reality, is Florida a lot of states or regions?
J: Oh, I think it's a lot of states and regions, because, who are we
talking about? Are we talking about the deep south people in the
Fla Pers 44AB 12
J: north, or what I might call the deep north people in the south?
For instance, around Miami, are we talking about Greek sponge
divers in Tarpon Springs, are we talking about Minoricans in
St. Augustine, or Czechs at Masaryktown, or Swedes in St.
Petersburg? Who, indeed, are we talking about? And, uh, I think
Florida has got now a distinctive emerging culture. I see this
more and more, there's a certain informality in the life here,
a way of looking at things very much oriented to climate. Um, you
do not behave in Florida, in many ways, as you behave in New York.
P: One of the things that you said in your book that I would like to
explore a little bit with you, Gloria, is that Florida is the
dream of the American Middle class.
J: Oh, yes, it's heaven, you see. This is where you retire to. You
save all your money and then you buy a place in the sun, and you
come down and you live what is known as the new life. This is what
one of the retirement books is called.
P: Well, what are you trying to do, live forever?
J: And, what you're trying to is, oh, yes, we don't like to mention
death. Now, one of the nicknames for this state is "God's waiting
room" and I think it's justified in many ways. But, I, I think
that you're supposed to find yourself, personally in your leisure
time, down here in Florida. And so, it's a goal for people to come
to, it's heaven on earth. And this is one reason, I think, that
the retirees who are here are quite sensitive when there's any
criticism of Florida.
P: The sun shines all the time2 /he beaches are white1 jife is easy,
you can just pull the, the bananas and the oranges off the tree.
Fla Pers 44AB
P: You lie out in the sun, and you fish, and you will live forever.
J: I think this is a popular stereotype.
P: I think this is the pop....
J: Except that when you get down here, of course, you do find that
it rains and you can get pneumonia, and there are big cities
and traffic jams.
P: Florida attractions, /nd the best known, of course, is Disney
World, which has not only made an impact on Orlando and central
Florida, but it's made an impact on this entire state.
J: It's made an immense impact. And, um, I think also, something I
said in my book that bears repeating at this moment, in Florida,
for instance in the very Jewish community of South Beach, which
is south of Miami, past and south VA Miami, you get very many
older Jews, and it's possible to have an elderly Jewish woman
who is now under the care of a Cuban doctor who was a refugee
recently, and all the time, she's surrounded by plastic Mickey
Mice. I think this is maybe a picture of !Ne state, the ethnic
P: (Laughing) It's amazing what kind of an ethnic,mix we've had in
Florida, right from the very beginning,and it has increased up
to the present time.
J: It has increased, and, for instance, if you read histories of
Cape Canaveral, you'll find out about the roles of German scientists.
If you're looking at Tarpon Springs, we think of the Greek sponge
divers, or the Czechs at Masaryktown, um, who've been active in
poultry farming. We think of the Minoricans in St. Augustine,
Fla Pers 44AB 14
J: there are just so many different groups who've come.
P: Don't forget the Swedes who came in to work in General Sanfords
groves in the 1870g#3
J: Absolutely, absolutely. And we also think, for instance, of
Cubans, not just one wave of Cubans, but three separate waves
of Cubans. The very early Cubans who came to have fishing ranches
here in the very first years of the state, in the seventeenth
century, of course not a state then. We think of the Cubans who
came here to Tampa to make cigars in the nineteenth century, and
the character of Miami has very much altered since the fall of
Batista in Cuba.
P: And the Danes AdI Dania, and the Japanese at what is now Boca Raton.
P: Yes, I don't think that Florida is the result of just the white
J: Oh, no, there is....
P: ....it's the result of all of these groups.
J: Yes, and there is a strong Latin influence in this state.
P: Always has been.
J: And he who forgets that forgets that at his peril, because this
is not a state where you think of history in terms of pilgrim
fathers or the Puritan ethic, it's something very, very different.
P: You know, another American, an important Floridian that we ought
to mention here, Gloria, is the Chinese citizen who played such
an important role iii the development of the citrus culture of this
J: Loo Jin Gong, who developed the Loo Jin Gong orange, which is
Fla Pers 44AB 15
J: still being grown.
P: Where was he living, and when?
J: Uh, he was living around Deland, I believe, in the latter part of
the nineteenth century.
P: He was, uh huh.
J: And, as an old man, he was rather poor, but I understand the
citizens there felt a great debt to himA so they took care of him.
P: Gloria, we're talking about the things that have shaped Florida.
We know that people come here because of the temperate climate
during the winter, and the sunshine, and the balmy breezes, but
you also point to the fact in your book that Florida's history
has been shaped by heat, and mosquitos, and hurricanes. What
role has weather played in Florida's history?
J: Weather has played a tremendous role because no matter how you
approach it, you have to come to the conclusion that life here
is pretty close to heaven. We have extremes of weather, of course,
we have intense heat in summer, we have the fury of the hurricanes,
but it's nice here, it's much nicer than where it snows. This is
putting it very simply, but this is true. And then of course,
the hurricanes have, have wiped out settlements that had been
started, yellow fever and malaria used to be great hazards in
Florida. Not any more, because we're wise in the ways of public
health, and not giving mosqitos ei0 chance to breed, but, it
P: One of the south's foremost historians, as you know, R. Richaby
Phillips says that weather was perhaps the most important thing
which shaped southern history, and made the south a distinctive
Fla Pers 44AB jo
J: It dows, and you know, of course, Sam,.we gave the world air
conditioning, right here in Florida.
P: That's right.
J: Dr., John Gory, of Apalachicola, invented air conditioning, and
everybody laughed at him. They didn't think it was possible, and
he never was able to market it successfully. But finally, through
the work of the Frenchman Carrier, who built on his work, air
conditioning became adopted, first in movie houses, and finally
it became, I think probably in the forties and fifties, a general
thing in America. But air conditioning has had a tremendous
influence on Florida, because it's, it's made it habitable in
P: You know, we're talking about the growth of Florida, and it
certainly is a large state, not only geographically, but in size
as far as people are concerned. It's one of the fastest growing
states in the nation. In your book, you point out that Florida,
in many ways, is suffering as a result of this.
J:A We have grave environmental suffering. Now, I, I don't belong to
school of thought that says we have to get rid of all the people
and keep things the way they were. This is not possible. But
certainly in the contamination of Tampa Bay, for instance, we
see major environmental problems. And Florida is making mistakes
that the rest of America made, you know, in terms of traffic planning,
in terms of energy, in many things of that sort. And we're getting
the complexities of the highly urban civilization that most of
America represents, we're getting those things, we no longer have
Fla Pers 44ab 17
J: just one psychiatrist in Tallahassee.
P: Should we begin to check this population flow?
J: I, I would hate to see that happen, because I hate to see anybody
denied his dream, and just from a personal standpoint, living
here is so simply splendid, I wouldn't like to prevent anybody from
doing so, but I don't know what the answer is to that, it's an
extremely serious question. Now, I believe it's, Oregon has
actually told people, "Don't come." I would hate to see Florida
do that, that has not been our traditional role.
P: So as we look toward the future, the next ten years, the next
twenty years, the next fifty years, maybe the other Florida also
will be gone, its endangered, it's an endangered species.
J: Yes, it most definitely is. And unless we do some highly intelligent
planning, and listen to people who know what they're talking about,
I think we're going to be in trouble.
(END OF SIDE ONE)
Fla Pers 44ab 18
tape A, side 2
side 2 BLANK
TAPE B: SIDE ONE
P: Supposing it would be possible, Gloria, for some of these patriots
of the American Revolution, the John Adams', and the Thomas
Jeffersons, and the James Madisons, and all of those people to
come back in 1978, and make a trip to Florida perhaps, to
visit Disney World, or whatever.
J: I was going to say, the first, the first Mickey Mouse and the
first bikini they saw might well turn them off for the rest of
P: But o they looked at the Florida scene.in 1978, do you think
they would be appalled, would they be disappointed?
J: Well, if we endowed them with historical sophistication, I think
they, too, would be optimistic. Uh, if they came just cold, from
the eighteenth century, I think they would be universally appalled.
But I think they would be by all of America, because we have, in
many ways, departed from the sternness of that time. America
today wants pleasure a lot more than America wanted pleasure, or
America thought pleasure was possible in 1776.
P: Now, Florida's attractive not only to the people who are, quote,
"enjoying their golden years" end quote, but there are others who
come to Florida. Gloria, one of the things that we haven't mentioned,
but we need to say something about is the attractiveness of
Florida, not only to individuals, retirees, and tourists, but also
to business. An increasing number of businesses are relocating
Fla Pers 44ab 19
P: in Florida.
J: Oh, yes, industry is coming down....
P: Why, why?
J: Well, because we have traditionally needed jobs. Very often
Floridians will work for a bit less. In some cases, unions have
not been as strong, and in some cases, people just want to work
in a pleasant atmosphere. Move down, move the company down where
it's nice and warm.
P: And, uh, the businesses are creating problems pollution problems,
all kinds of environmental problems, housing problems. These
people are attracted to Florida because it is a lovely state, but
I wonder how long it will remain lovely and idyllic.
J: Will they destroy it's loveliness, will they destroy what they
came for, that's really one of the fundamental questions.
P: Yes, I think that economically they, the United STates is looking
toward the south, and it's looking toward Florida. Perhaps this
is the last of the economic frontiers of this country.
J: In other words, what, what we're saying, perhaps, is that there
may not be a wild west anymore, but there may be a wild south.
P: That's right, and I think that is very definitely true. And I
think not only is the nation looking increasingly toward Florida,
but this is also true of the rest of the world, particularly,
of course, Latin America, as you point out in your book.
J: Latin America, yes. And certainly the Caribbean. I've been
startles, truly startled to hear very rapid French on the streets
of Jacksonville, and I realize these are tourists.
P: And they've all heard of Disney World.
Fla Pers 44ab Zu
J: They certainly have.
P: They all know exactly where Disney World is, and it's on almost
every international tour. But you know, Florida, as far as Latin
America is concerned, has always been involved in that part of
J: Yes, you know, of course, in the early days of the Spanish, Florida
was spiritually closer to in Columbia, what is now
Columbia, than it was.to the, what is now the rest of the United
P: You emphasized the Spanish heritage of Florida in your bicentennial
J: Because it needs, it needs emphasizing, people cannot think of
pilgrim fathers, and they cannot think of the Puritan ethic
when they think of this state. We have deeply Latin roots.
P: Really, I guess, up until Florida became an American territory
in 1821, and already e adbd years of Florida history had
passed by that point, Florida stood with it's back to what is
now the United States. The St. Mary's River was actually at the
back of Florida, and Florida was looking south to the Caribbean,
and to Latin America.
J: She certainly was, yes, yes. And even today, in the names of
many of the citizens, you can see their, their Spanish origin, and
just in general attitudes, I think very often we tend to focus
much more on what's happening in Cuba than what is happening up
P: Where does Florida fit in on the national picture?
J: Definitely on the conservative side. Certainly, I would say that,
Fla Pers 44AB 21
J: almost without exception. Um, I think Florida is interested also
in environmental issues, to a very jb j degree) possiblyy greater
than, say, someone from Kansas City, although that may be debatable.
And Florida has always had a strong international orientation.
Their cosmopolitanism is directed more to South America than
Europe. But I think this is colored Florida thinking, we aren't
that far from the Bahamas. We're not that far from Cuba.
P: Does Florida fit in politically, with the political philosophy
of the rest of the deep south?
J: Uh, in many ways, north Florida does, but south Florida, I would
not say so. There, there the people are primarily from the north,
and they may tend to be a bit more liberal than the conservative
north. North in Florida is south, and south in Florida is north.
That's a great oversimplification, but, certainly, north Florida
is very much a part of the deep south, with deep southern history,
deep southern attitudes.
P: I wonder, though, if that's not an arguable point.
J: It may very well be an arguable point.
P: I was gonna say, these people have moved into Florida from the
middle west, from the north, they have brought their conservative
political philosophies with them. Really, the development, or the
reestablishment of a two party system in Florida, since World War II
has been, not totally, but in large part, as a result of the
people moving into Pinellas County, Brevard County, Palm Beach
J: We now have with us the heartland of Iowa, /he heartland of
Fla Pers 44AB ZZ
P: So, I'm not so sure that liberalism is a result of northern
emigrees coming into Florida. I think that, yes, Florida is
.part of the old 5,outh, and we can see that in many ways.in north
Florida. The associations of Tallahassee and Jacksonville, and
Fernandina, and Pensacola, with the rest of the south, and our
attitudes towards race and white supremacy and all of those
things that had been so long associated with the history of, of
the south. But I'm wondering, also, about the rest of *tz state.
I think that this is a state which is very conservative from
a political point of view.
J: Yes, it is, I would say possibly with the exception of Miami.
I have nothing to support that, it's an impression.
P: I think that's more of an impression if you look at the voting
P: I think because Dade County is so large, and we think that everybody
from Dade County has moved in from New York City, we get that
impression, but I think if you look at the voting 'patterns there,
look at the editorials in the newspapers, and particularly see
how people vote in national elections.
J: Ah, there's a very interesting point, because the people that are
voting in Florida, so many of them are over seventy. And they
all do vote. And sometimes the younger people do not vote in this
state. And so we have a very great impact, I think, on whether
conservatives succeed nationally.
P: It is true, though, that north Florida was settled really by
Fla Pers 44AB 23
J: Yes, it was.
P: ....and Georgians....
P: .... and west Floridians, and Virginians, west Florida by people
who came down from Tennessee, Mississippi, Lousiana. There were
so many South Carolinians living in Alachua County during the
Civil War, that the local newspapers carried the casualty lists
from both states, Florida and South Carolina, so that people would
know about the things JIA were happening to their families back
home and their friends back home. A story that I've always enjoyed
talking about, the movement of people from the other parts of
the south into Florida is one which is credited to Eugene Talmadge,
the governor of Georgia. He said that so many Georgians had
moved into Florida that it had a real impact on both states, that
it redounded to the intellectual benefit of both states./Ar-That
Georgians leaving Georgia tended to up the intellectual level there
arid it certainly improved Florida.A And I think this is a trend
J: I do too.
P: Indeed, many of the people who settled in north Florida in the
nineteenth and early twentieth century came from other parts of
J: They did indeed, but I always loved the one story about Tallahassee
that, when Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin,
came through here after the Civil War, Tallahassee liked to party
so much, they gave her one.
P: Well, of course, by that time, she was a Floridian, she had built
Fla Pers 44AB 24
P: the house at Mandarin, outside of Jacksonville, and had indeed
become a tourist attraction.
J: Yes, she was luring tourists down.
P: She was, well, not only thatI but not only was she luring tourists
down because she was writing promotional stories which appeared in
the northern press, but it is said that she had made arrangements
with the captains of the tourist boats plying the St. John's
River, that when they approached the point where her cottage was
located, they tooted they whistle enough ahead of time so that
she and her family would come out and seat themselves on the
lawn so that they could be pointed to as the tourists passed,
"There's the famed authoress of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and her family
>' in their garden, sitting around chatting, or having tea, or conversation
or whatever." So she was quite a, a lady. In the period before
the Civill War, we had some planters and some big houses in north
Florida, but the real bulk of Florida's population were people
who were middle class, lower middle class laborers.
J: Yes, um hmm. And, you know, any image we might have of antebellum
Florida is a gone with the wind dream of vast plantations. This
simply was not the case.
P: No, no. There were a few of these plantations in Jefferson County
and Leon County and Gadson County....
J: But relatively very few.
P: Very, very few. Very few people in Florida owned slaves.
J: John Q. Public was a little man, with a little world.
P: Very much so. These were settlers who moved in with their families,
really to make a home in the wilderness. They were able to get a
Fla Pers 44AB 5
P: small amount of land, land was available in Florida, and it was
cheap. After the Second Seminole War, of course, the federal
government opened up land and made it available to army veterans,
and then after the Civil War, of course, Florida was opened up for
settlement under the Moral Land Grant Act. But most of these
people came down with little more than just the clothes on their
backs, and the few tools that they had in the back of the wagon,
and they were glad to be able to scratch a bare living.
J: And you know, we might point out, too, that when these people came
in, some of the Seminoles were stubbornly staying here, and they
retreated into the Everglades, and those last holdouts are the
Seminoles that are in the Everglades today, and some of them
still do not, or will not speak English. So right in the shadow
of Miami Beach, you have Indians who have not yet learned to
P: Very traditionalist.
J: Very, very traditionalist. And the tourist concessions that you
see along the Tamiami Trail, these people run. But they are not
really an integral part of American life as a whole.
P: The 200th birthday of the nation, and all of us began to focus our
eyes back on the event of the eighteenth century, the American
Revolution, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution,
the Bill of Rights, you know, a great wave of enthusiasm passed over
the country. Let's spend a little bit of time talking about
Florida in all of this. You made the point earlier about Florida
not being one of the participating colonies.
Fla Pers 44AB 26
J: Yes, east Florida and west Florida did not revolt. That is the
hard, fundamental fact people had to remember.in 1976. They
couldn't really very well run through the streets playing Yankee
Doodle, this was not a part of what Florida, the Floridas were,
as they were known then.
P: No, Florida, as you point out in your book, had recently been
acquired by England, at the close the Seven Years War, or the
French and Indian War, as we know it American History, just in
1763, so the Floridas were very new. By the way, the
Apalachicola River, as you note in your book, was the dividing
line between gast and west Florida. ,W
J: Yes, it was.
P: And St. Augustine was the capital of east Florida.
J: And Pensacola of west Florida.
P: Was the, yes, it was. And the Floridas were loyal to King George III.
P: It paid off politically and economically for Florida to be on the
J: It certainly did, yes.
P: And I think we ought to ask the question of what has happened, or
what did happen to these fundamentals of democracy in the years
after 1783, and for Florida after 1821.
J: Yes, I think we need to ask those questions, and you know, Florida
has had, historically, and until recently, a problem with
apportionment. It was based on area rather than population, and
so, for long years, the northern part of Florida, the least heavily
settled, was in control. They were known as the pork chop legislators.
Fla Pers 44AB L/
P: Pork trees, pork trees were, I mean pine trees were voting, not
J: Pine trees were voting, and in south Florida, the people who
represented the south Floridians were called the lamb chop
legislators. And the pork choppers had a wonderful time building
roads that went from swamp to swamp.
P: What kind of people were they representing, Gloria?
J: They were representing conservative, small town southerners.
P: People who had moved in, who were not affluent.
J: Yes, very definitely, not rich people. They were not representing
P: Florida really has never had a large number of rich people.
J: No, it has not.
P: Gloria, these people who came into Florida, facing the threat
of Indian attack, settling on the Florida frontier, these people
who we associate in American history with the era of Jacksonian
democracy, were they fulfilling the dream of the Declaration of
Independence and the Bill of Rights what were they looking for?
J: I think they were, they certainly were. They were looking for the
pursuit of happiness, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Certainly they were looking for prosperity. America from its'
beginning, I think, has had a dream that a lot of hard work brings
prosperity. They probably weren't looking to be tycoons, but just
average successful farmers.
P: They, were they concerned with politics, were they voters, were
they participants in local and county politics?
J: Oh, certainly they were, they were participants in this, certainly
Fla Pers 44AB 28
J: they were. I, I think Florida had had a very informed citizenry
from the beginning. They were because they had to be, they wanted
P: They were looking, as you say, for life, and liberty, and security....
P: And happiness. Now what kind of people, which group of people are
you talking about. You're certainly not talking about black
J: No, I'm talking about the white, small landholders.
P: That's right, and these were the people who dominated the political
institutions before and after the Civil War.
J: Oh, yes, and you know, the emergence of, of the blacks as a
really sizable voting force has been very recent, really.
P: That's, although they made up over half of the population of
P: And blacks have been residents of this state from the earliest
times, they came in with the Spanish. Not as slaves, either,
as free men.
J: As free men, they were here long, in Florida, long before blacks
were ever in Virginia. I've read, you know, that when these
blacks arrived in Virginia, that's when the history of theilack
people in America began....not so.
P: No, it's the history of the black slave people in America, but the
first free blacks came into this area, not very many, but there
were blacks in this area....
J: There certainly were.
Fla Pers 44AB 29
P: ,41Mithe Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights promised everybody equality, but that was not a
dream to be realized for black people until twentieth century
Florida, was it?
J: It was not, and you know, the change we have seen since the Civil
Rights Law of 1964 has been so dramatic it's just mind-boggling.
The changes that that particular law brought. I think the black
people have emerged as a strong force now, but of course, for
many years, had very little voice. That they have produced leaders
out of all proportion to the voice they had, I believe.
P: Well, did they achieve all of these wonderful gains as a result of
the enthusiastic cooperation of Floridians?
J: (Laughs) They achieved it in spite of the lack of cooperation
of white Floridians.
P: They've made great strides in the last two decades, and certainly
since the Civil Rights Act of the 1960's, but you and I know
from our own historical research the controversy that developed in
St. Augustine in the 1960's.
P: When the Martin Luther King and his associates attempted to
integrate the public facilities, including the beach in St.
J: There was violence, and it was ugly violence.
P: Violence, violence, and a lot of the leadership, political leadership
of the state, and the political leadership of St. Johns County
actually endorsed that violence, or at least they stood by and
allowed the violence to take place.
Fla Pers 44AB 30
J: They allowed it to happen.
P: There have been many attacks made on a great variety of minorities
in this state.g/A
J: Yes, there have been.
P:A ou remember that in 1928, Florida went Republican for the first
time, largely as a result of the religious identification of the
presidential nominee for the Democratic party.
J:/A Al Smith was a Roman Catholic, and one of my favorite Florida
stories concerns a man who was elected to the governorship on the
ground that he was going to prevent the Catholics from doing anything
terrible in Florida.
P: That was Sydney J. Katz who was elected in 1916.
J: Sydney J. Katz. And his, his successor, when he was campaigning
said,'now, let's examine, Sydney J. Katz promised you that he was
going to keep the Catholics down, but,while he was office, one
Pope died, and he let them elect another without raising a finger
to stop it.
P: But, uh, the Ku Klux Klan was an active force in Florida after the
First World War. You pointed out in our conversation earlier how
a Jew served as United States senator from Florida beginning in
1845. There was a rising degree of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism
in twentieth century Florida.
J: Yes, yes, that's been a twentieth century phenomenon.
P: Steven R. Mallory was Secretary of the Navy in the Confederate
J: He was, and interestingly enough, he was a Roman Catholic from
Florida, and our first senator was a Jew.
Fla Pers 44ab 31
P: I think that's important, these were the two men that represented
Florida at the tjme of Florida's secession in 1861. So the dream
that was suggested by the Declaration of Independence, and the
patriots of the 1770's was not to be realized for all people until
J: This is very true.
P: And then, over the opposition of a great many whites....
P: ....the blacks did not achieve their goals very easily, and perhaps
in 1978, they still have not achieved their goals.
J: I would, I would say that was true.
P: You know, w6've wrapped the whole period of the American Revolution
in this great mantle of patriotism, and I'm sure there's a real
basis for it, you know, Valley Forge was not just a figment of
people's imagination, and George Washington did have a tremendous
job in maintaining morale and securing the support that he needed,
and eventually, you know, the good guys won as far as American
history is concerned. Do you think there's the same level of
patriotism, the same level of morale in twentieth century America?
J: I don't know. In some cases I would be inclined to say no, I think
we suffered a very grave blow ;fv the Vietnamese War, we're going
to be a long time recovering from that.
P: So have we realized the drean of the American Revolution?
J: I don't think....we have realized it, but I would also say, I
wonder if any state in this union has fully realized the dream of
the revolution. It was a .noble dream, an almost unprecedented
dream. So perhaps we can't be altogether chastized for not having
Fla Pers 44AB 3Z
J: realized it.
P: Well, as we look toward future Florida, are you optimistic?
J: I am reasonably optimistic, if destruction of the environment
doesn't do the worst thing to us, and give us complications of
such a nature that everyone's life will be diminished. I would
hate to see Florida totally paved, and everybody living in small
P: When we begin to look at what's happening to our rivers, and
Tampa Bay, and the threats to the Everglades, and to the water
which in some areas, I understand in Florida, is already running
P: .... this is a place for the trained scientists, the trained
environmentalists, and not the passing ecologist.
J: This is true, and we'd better start praying for good geologists.
That's what we need.A 7he reason I. see. ecology in quotes is because,
as I always understood the term, ecology referred to what was there,
it's not a positive or a negative thing in itself at all, it's the
relationship of things in balance. It used to be, you know,
that in Tallahassee, the worst thing that you could say about a
person was that he was weak on his warblers, he couldn't identify
the right bird at the right time, and that's disappearing, unfortunately
and I hate to see it go. But I don't know what the answer is, I
wish I did. I, I do have one particular annoyance, that in Florida,
many people speak out in favor of, quote, "ecology", unquote, who
really aren't scientists, and I think that we ought to listen to
the scientists, there are too many amateurs in this business, and
Fla Pers 44ab 33
J: our situation is getting so desperate, we really have no room
P: Well, what about the, the political dream, what about the dream
of equality, the right of every man to see that his children are
educated, that he can get a job, that he will have a decent
place to live, a job that he can look towards security when he
gets ready to retire?
J: I1W optimistic about this, It* very optimistic about this. Of
course, one of the things I think we have to work on is our health
care, and not only in Florida, but in the nation as a whole.
But I am optimistic, the dream is achievable.
P: You and I are so much a part of the university scene, and deal on
a day to day basis with young people. Are you optimistic about
J: Very much so. I think they're one of the finest groups of young
people I've ever seen, the ones we have right now.
P: So you have not lost faith in the young Floridians?
J: Oh, no, not at all. And I think their, their enthusiasm for
building a better Florida, in many ways, is going to be contagious.
P: Well, if this is true, then, the dream that was expressed in the
1770)j-at the time of the American Revolution, if it's the
responsibility of these young Floridians, and young Americans,
then it will be achieved.
J: Then I think it will be achievable, yes.
P: So the future that you see, when you get ready to write the sequel
to your book, is going to be a very bright one.
J: It's going to be a bright one, yes.
Fla Pers 44AB,
?: You have been listening to History in the Sunshine, with historian,
biographer, and novelist Gloria Jahoda, of Tallahassee,, /nd Dr.
Samuel Proctor, Distinguished Service Professor of History at the
University of Florida in Gainesville. Mrs. Jahoda's book,
Florida, a Bicentennial History, is part of a series entitled The
States in the Nation, consisting of a history of every state plus
the District of Columbia. e rdit- WA grant funds from
the National Endowment for the Humanities, the series is published
by the American Association for State and Local History, and
W. W. Norton and Company, Incorporated. This program is made
available as a public service by the American Association for
State and Local History, and ,was made possible by a grant from
the National Endowment for the Humanities. The interview was
conducted in the studies of WFSU-FM at Florida State University
in Tallahassee. Views expressed in the program are those
of the participants alone. I'm Tom Berger.
, Eevp r or^ve