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Room 113 Florida’s Governor Audio Transcript

This exhibit provides insight on the history of the Chief Executive Officer in Florida, the Governor. The room is divided by a partition into two areas. The exhibits in the first area focus on campaigning for Governor. Among the unusual items here are Lawton Chile’s size 10 leather boots used on his 1,100 mile walk across the state from Pensacola to Key West. The leather work gloves are from Bob Graham’s “workdays,” where he would work in such jobs as garbage collector, teacher and lumberjack. The large mural on the wall is of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, speaking in Williams Park, in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1906.

The interactive display in this room features information on inaugural speeches, inaugural gowns of Florida’s first ladies and more background on Florida’s first families. The small device next to the interactive is an antique Mutoscope, an early motion picture device often seen in penny arcades. This one is showing the earliest film of an inaugural parade in Florida, that of Governor Sidney Catts, in 1917. Catts, Florida’s only third party candidate elected as Governor of Florida was also one of the most colorful. He claimed that during the inaugural parade he wore two pistols strapped under his coat because of assassination threats.

The second area of the room, beyond the partition doors, focuses on the powers and duties of Florida’s Governors. They can appoint, suspend or remove state officials and they have the power to grant clemency. Also mentioned is the Governors’ relationship to the State Legislature, Judiciary and the Cabinet. In 1902, Florida’s Cabinet consisted of six elected members and the Governor. Starting in 2003, Florida’s Cabinet consisted of three elected members along with the Governor. Since they could not be removed from office except by impeachment proceedings, they often out voted the Governor and were in many cases seen as holding more power than the Governor. So to be effective, a Governor of Florida often had to compromise.

Some interesting artifacts in this exhibit are a gavel from the 1972 Republican National Convention, and Governor Graham’s camouflaged shirt that reads “Commander-in-Chief.” The Governor is in charge of the Florida National Guard.

This room was the original Governor’s Office from 1845 to 1902 and it is here that Florida’s early governors conducted their daily operations. Directly across from the entrance you will notice that the wall projects out a little. Inside that wall is the old 1845 chimney. Originally the room had a fireplace located between the two large windows. The partition was added in the 1890s dividing the room into the Governor’s private office and a secretary’s office. In his memoirs, Dr. John Crawford, then Secretary of State, relates an interesting story about the partition in this room. In 1897, the Governor’s desk was just on the other side of the partition doors. During a heated argument on whether Dr. Crawford should sign and affix the State Seal to a document, Crawford marched into the Governor’s Office up to the closed partition doors, and in his own words, “I took one door and flung it to Pensacola, and I took the other door and flung it to St. Augustine, I tossed the paper down on the Governor’s desk and in no uncertain terms refused to sign it.”