Earl C. Tanner


A leader of the eastern faction in early state politics was Edwin T. Jenckes, known to his adversaries as “‘the fat man of Florida.” Jenckes was a delegate to the St. Joseph Constitutional Convention of 1838-39 and apparently commanded a large following, for he was designated chairman of two committees. According to the opposition press, he weighed 450 to 500 pounds and was “the greatest” man at the convention. It was alleged that he “retained in his own person, all the management, tact, industry and talent of the whole eastern delegation” and that he, himself, voted five proxies. In case of “any little splitting” between the middle and the western delegations, Jenckes’ “aye or nay, which reverberated through the halls like hoarse thunder, gave law to the whole body. . . .“ 1 Despite the palpable exaggeration of these charges, it is clear that Jenckes was a power in the politics of the period; from the Constitutional Convention, he went on to a career in the State Legislature.