Tag Archives: historic books

Reflections–Florida’s Constitutional Convention of 1885

As I prepare myself for the continuation and 2018 closure of the Constitution Revision Commission, I am reviewing my history. Thanks to my parent’s historic Florida book collection, I did not have to go any further than their living room bookshelves…

The 1968 Constitution is credited with “making modern Florida,” as written about by Mary E. Atkins. It was the 1885 constitution that was “remade.”

According to historical records, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Constitution_of_1885 ) the 1885 constitution ratified at the convention passed with a vote of 31,804 to 21,243. It was “the model” of Florida’s government until 1968 and “represented the regression to racial discrimination which was occurring throughout the South in the post-Reconstruction period.”

The Constitution was weighted in favor of counties. Each new county was entitled to one to three representatives according to population…This overrepresentation of rural areas led to increasing tension in twentieth-century Florida politics, as central and then south Florida grew. It was a major factor leading to the current Constitution of 1968, which changed apportionment.”

It remains interesting to note the eloquence and tone of the times…

There is always something “good” and something “bad” to learn from history. It will be most interesting to see the history the 2018 Constitution Revision Commission leaves behind (https://www.flcrc.gov).

Temporary Chairman, Judge A.E. Maxwell, of Escambia, First Day, Tuesday, June 9, 1885:

...”The unusual and exceeding importance of the work before us can be estimated by the fact that we are the delegates of the people, acting in their sovereign capacity, emphatically delegates, but empowered to construct for them a system of State Government —a Constitution–that fundamental frame work which defines rights of persons and property and at the same time provides an organization by which their rights are to be secured, protected and defended. I trust we are all fully impressed with the heavy responsibilities of such a position, and that we will not permit ourselves to be led away from the discharge of its duties by any petty personal ambition or by any selfish schemes. The people who have put their trust in us feel that they have a guarantee of our good faith in their behalf and our devotion to their interest, in the fellowship which ties us to them as being ourselves a part of the people; and therefore, entirely identified with them in the desire and purpose to establish such government as will relive them from the evils of the present system, and ensure to them and their prosperity the blessings of civil and religious liberty.” 


Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 CRC: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Calendar for upcoming CRC meetings (subject to change) https://www.flcrc.gov/Meetings/Calendars/2017

Finding Our Way Back Home….”The Knockabout Club in the Everglades–Lake Okeechobee, 1887.” SLR/IRL

Herons, The Knockabout Club, 1887.
Close up, Herons. The Knockabout Club–Lake Okeechobee, 1887.

Beauty and adventure abound in the pages of a classic 1887 book known as the “Knockabout Club in the Everglades–Lake Okeechobee. ” A book from the days when it was “a man’s world,” it is one in a series of exotic hunting and survival tales, written, and “documented, ” by F.A. Ober and Estes Lauriat.

When reading this text about Florida, one is transported to a time when Lake Okeechobee and our Indian River Lagoon Region, easily competed with the continent of Africa in wonder and wildlife. Bears, panthers, alligators, crocodiles, wolves, native people, limitless fish, and a million birds in every different color, shape, and size. –Knobby-kneed trees stretching to heaven forcing the eye to God…

My mother shared this book with me awhile back, and although I have not read every page, I remain moved by its recollections, its revelations, and its confessions.

Today I will share a smidgen of its art work, and a whisper of its words. The entire book has been electronically preserved and even reprinted due to  “its importance and value to society.” The link is below.

As with so many things relating to Florida, the text leaves one wondering….wondering how we perhaps unknowing destroyed such a paradise, and if one day our collective conscience will find redemption by restoring some of the destruction we have caused.

This excerpt is from page 196 of the electronic copy:

“As the sun came down, behind the pines, scattered groups of herons came flying towards the island where we were concealed. Now a great heron, now a small blue heron, and occasionally a night heron. The sun disappeared and the moon came out and shed a faint light over the marshes and the lonely island, disclosing to the waters there the hurrying dusky forms in the sky, many of which fell at the fire of the marauders stationed beneath the trees…

When we left (I now grieve to state) we had nearly a score of herons of various kinds. Gleaming white in the moonlight, our back loads of herons appeared more like sheeted ghosts and verily, if all wicked deeds are requited in kind, the slayer of these innocent birds deserved to have their nights disturbed during the remained of their lives by the apparitions of their victims.

Looking back on that heron hunt, I can say it was a shameful thing to do,–to shoot unsuspecting birds as they came winging their way joyfully home to their nests. It was a most inexcusable act; yet we did it in our search for the rare and curious, not giving heed to the chiding’s of conscience—-until we had shot the birds.”

Library of Congress electronic copy: (http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t01z4gn31;view=1up;seq=15)

Cover of 1887 book: The Knockabout Club in the Everglades. Library of Sandra and Thomas Thurlow.)
Cover of 1887 book: The Knockabout Club in the Everglades. Library of Sandra and Thomas Thurlow.)
1.Copyright page
2. Title page
3. Herons
3. Herons
4. Hammock
4. Flats and Prairie of the St Johns
5. Alligator
5. Herons and Alligator
6. The Home of the Heron
7. Indian Burial Place
8. The Gloom of the Cypress
9. Pelicans of the Great Okeechobee
10.Little Bay at Oleander Point
11. Contents
11. Contents
12. Illlistrations
12. Illustrations

Thank you to my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, for sharing this book.