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.