The dream of a waterway across Florida from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico long has captured the imagination. In 1595 Spanish cartographers depicted one across the peninsula, a mistake assumed correct for nearly 200 years. During the British period in Florida, the royal government conducted a survey to determine if such a route existed, and in 1788 the United States army produced a sketch map of the area, although by that time it was clear no watercourse existed. Later, Thomas Jefferson’s administration exhibited the first high-level American interest in the construction of a waterway—an interest which has continued to the present. Four surveys were completed in the nineteenth century, including one in 1832 while Florida was still a territory. All called for further information and skirted the issue of actual construction of a canal. The first twentieth-century study was made in 1913, a second was completed in 1924— both noncommittal as to construction. But in 1927 another survey was authorized, which has been described as the beginning of “concrete efforts to complete the 400-year-old dream.“ This survey came during the tenure of Florida Senator Duncan U. Fletcher, a long-time supporter of the project.
Stoensen, Alexander R.
"Claude Pepper and the Florida Canal Controversy, 1939-1943,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 50
, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol50/iss3/3