Clifton Paisley


Few things stirred more interest than the planting, harvesting and marketing of cotton in mid-nineteenth-century Tallahassee. In April 1849, cotton was in the ground and prospects looked bright despite a severe freeze on April 15. There was some apprehension that the unexpected cold had badly damaged and perhaps had destroyed the young plants, but these fears were quickly allayed. The freeze was even more severe in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, and the damage in those areas indicated a likely increase in cotton prices from the seven or eight cents a pound of recent years. In addition to cotton, politics was important in Tallahassee. Here also there was cause for satisfaction. Like other counties in Florida’s small plantation belt, Leon was Whig, and in the October 1848 elections, for the first time in Florida, a Whig governor had been elected. Not only were Leon County planters and merchants happy about this result, but they were pleased that the victor was their neighbor and friend, Thomas Brown, the popular innkeeper. Brown first had planned to take office in January 1849, but the Democratic incumbent, William Moseley, took advantage of a convenient vagueness in the law of gubernatorial succession, and he continued to stay in office until October 1849. Brown was not overly irritated by Moseley’s tardiness; more important to him and his friends was the glorious period of Whig prosperity that seemed to lie ahead.