U.S. Presidents have played a major role in shaping Florida, whether waging wars, protecting the environment, seeking votes, or just drawing media attention to the state’s attractions.
- Thomas Jefferson set out to buy Florida, but ended up making the Louisiana Purchase instead.
- Andrew Jackson came to fight Indians when La Florida was still a Spanish colony and then became the first territorial governor.
- Abraham Lincoln came up with the plan to get Florida back into the Union in 1864 to help his reelection chances.
- Ulysses S. Grant came to promote steamships on the St. Johns River.
- Warren G. Harding played golf with an elephant as a caddie, and Chester Arthur went fishing in Orlando.
- Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders sailed to glory from Tampa, but nearly missed the boat.
- Herbert Hoover came to Florida to spend time with his friends, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone, and held the Florida record for catching the largest bonefish.
- Days before his inauguration, an assassination attempt was made on Franklin Roosevelt as he spoke in a Miami park.
- Roosevelt’s yacht was anchored at Fort Lauderdale when a massive hurricane swept it inland. Roosevelt tried to sell it as a hunting lodge.
- Harry Truman launched a campaign to defeat a Florida Senator, and had a house in Key West called the Little White House.
- Nixon killed the Cross Florida Barge Canal, becoming a hero to environmentalists. After winning election, he purchased a home in Florida and was there during the Watergate burglary.
- George W. Bush launched his political career in Florida, working for a successful Senate candidate. And of course it was the contested Florida vote, with its “hanging-chad” ballots, that gave him reelection in 2000.
Learn about all of these men and more in this unique take on Florida history.