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Welcome to the Historic Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. I’m Andrew Edel, exhibits manager, and your guide on this video tour. This building, a historic sight, has many wonderful stories to tell us about politics in Florida. In fact, on these very granite steps many of Florida’s Governors were inaugurated and sworn in.
In 1900, state workers and politicians may have worn a sack suit like this beautiful three-piece one I’m wearing. The State government was so small in 1900, that it was contained in this one building. We had all three branches here; the Supreme Court, the Legislature and, down this south hallway, the Executive branch.
Welcome to the Governor’s suite. One hundred years ago they were quite proud of the modern technology you see in this room. For instance, this beautiful Oliver visual typewriter was one of the first typewriters that you could actually see what you were typing as you typed it. Behind that, on the cabinet, the wheel press was the first copy device in the Historic Capitol; you could actually make a copy, sort of an early Xerox. This is Governor Jennings’ actual desk from 1902, which would eventually become his personal desk. In the 1990s, his granddaughter donated it for our exhibit. Notice that on the desk is one of the earliest telephones in Florida. The governor did not have the number one, his phone number was six. Later on, as the phone numbers expanded, number six went to the janitor of the building.
The Senate of Florida met in this beautiful chamber from 1902 through 1923. These wonderful reproductions represent some of the period furniture from 1902. The room is quite lovely with 22 foot ceilings, beautiful classical molding and muted red, white and blue colors. Besides the Senators, there were other state workers in this room one hundred years ago. The Sergeant of Arms (his office was through this door directly behind me) was in charge of crowd control. Young men, as young as twelve years old, were pages and used as errand boys to move documents around. This beautiful desk is where the clerks worked.
We’re in the north end of the second floor in the beautiful Florida House of Representatives. One hundred years ago women were not allowed to vote, however women did sit in this chamber. Representatives did not have an office; if they required assistance, a secretary would actually pull up a chair and sit at the same desk.
This is the way the Supreme Court Chamber looked in 1903. In this very room, on Tuesdays in October, the Supreme Court met to hear appeals cases from lower courts in Florida. The Constitution stated that they had to choose a Chief Justice by some sort of random method. They did not want to use coins or draw straws, as that was undignified for the Court. The dignified method was to use a brand new law book, open it and look on the left hand page at the first line and the first letter. The Justice with the letter closest to the end of the alphabet would become the next Chief Justice.
Thank you for joining us on this brief tour. There is much more to see at the Historic Capitol. If you are in the Tallahassee area please drop by and visit us.