A brief guide to (possibly?) racist place names in Florida

With the recent discussions as to renaming places, tearing down statues, etc I decided to put together a list of place I know off hand in Florida that are named for people that might offend a lot of our readers. This is not by any means a comprehensive list and I personally side with letting names stand rather than renaming lots of places in a frenzy of political correctness. However, some names in this state do offend me as I mention below and should be renamed (Brooksville for example REALLY offends me as does any mention of Preston Brooks). Feel free to add to this list or email me additions.

Baker –  named for James McNair Baker who was one of Florida’s two CSA Senators. Served in the Confederate Congress for the duration of the Civil War.

Brooksville- named for US Representative Preston Brooks (D-South Carolina) who famously beat Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner (R-Massachusetts) with a cane almost to death on the Senate floor after Sumner delivered a powerful anti-slavery speech. Brooks became a hero in the South. Brooksville was renamed in Brooks’ honor in the 1860’s. It’s unconscionable this town is named for Preston Brooks.

Bradford – named for Confederate officer Richard Branford who was from Florida. Branford was killed in the Battle of Santa Rosa Island.

Broward – Named for Napoleon Bonaparte Broward who drained the Everglades and maintained a strong bourbon Democrat leadership against the populist agitation of the early 1900’s. As Governor enforced segregation strictly and signed Jim Crow laws. Naming anything after Broward is to me offensive.

Calhoun – named for US Senator and Vice President John C. Calhoun (D-South Carolina) who was the south’s great champion, advocate of secession (thankfully Andrew Jackson won that battle) and powerful defender of slavery. If one place is renamed in Florida it should be this. Calhoun was about as bad as they get.

Chipley – William Chipley fought for the Confederacy and was a decorated veteran. He also built a railroad through the Panhandle.

Duval – named for Florida’s first territorial Governor, William Pope Duval whose goal was to attract slave owners from neighboring states to set up plantations in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale- named for Indian fighter Major William Lauderdale. Major Lauderdale founded the city so the name should stand.

Fort Myers – named for Jewish-American Indian fighter Abraham Myers. I don’t advocate renaming Fort Myers.

Gilchrist – Governor Gilchrist succeeded Governor Broward and continued his regressive policies and turned a blind eye as a culture of violence toward African-Americans began to predominate the state in this era.

Hardee-  named for Governor Cary Hardee whose indifference to the Rosewood Massacre of African-Americans indicated a tacit support. Hardee was a racist plain and simple. 

Hendry – Francis Hendry fought heroically for the Confederacy organizing a cavalry. He had also been a lonely voice that opposed secession but stayed loyal to his state once it happened.

Jackson – Do we really even need to go here? I have a different view of Jackson than most but to avoid being called a racist I’ll spare the arguments.

Jacksonville – Ditto “Jackson.” I personally suggest folks read Jon Meacham’s works on Andrew Jackson before passing judgement. Sure he was scum but not as bad as many on this list that have things named for them in Florida.

Jefferson- Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Never mind his personal views on issues of race and ethnicity. Though it can be argued Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian-driven America with a weak central authority is actually as dangerous as racism itself. Under Jefferson’s vision, the US would be a developing country still. Hamiltonian America is what we see today and thank goodness for that.

Lee- Robert E. Lee commanded Confederate forces. The fact he had conflicting views on slavery is often forgotten.

Levy and Yulee – David Levy Yulee can be viewed two ways. As a Jewish-American pioneer who helped build Florida or a defender of slavery and a secessionist. Take your pick and advocate accordingly.

Martin – The fact anything is named for Governor John Martin is mildly embarrassing. State recovery efforts after the 1926 and 1928 Hurricanes were abysmal and the 1928 storm’s response was characterized by overt racism. Martin County should either be renamed OR find another person named Martin to claim it is named after.

Milton – Contrary to popular belief it was NOT named for Governor John Milton, the Democrat who led Florida through the Civil War and committed suicide days before Appomattox. Milton said death was preferable to reunification with “Yankees.”

Pasco- Samuel Pasco was from Massachusetts yet fought for the Confederacy. Served as a Democratic member of Congress from Florida AFTER African-Americans and Republicans were run out of state government. Pasco is absolutely the wrong type of person to be honored in today’s Florida. I tend to try and forgive southerners who fought with their region out of loyalty in the Civil War (Lee is an example) but Pasco was a northerner who moved south in 1859 and sided with the CSA. 

Perry and Starke- named for Madison Starke Perry secessionist Governor who then served as a colonel in the CSA military.

Putnam- is it named for Benjamin Putnam or Israel Putnam? Let’s say the later and allow it to stay. If it’s the former we might have a discussion on our hands.

 

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