Chris Beckmann


Typically the study of Florida history in the state's schools begins and ends in the fourth grade. Students learn that St. Augustine predates Jamestown, the Seminole Wars were the deadliest and costliest Indian conflicts in American history, Olustee was the only major Civil War battle fought on Florida soil, and 1920's Miami was the center of the first Florida land boom. Unfortunately most high school curricula do not build upon that base and place little emphasis upon the important place of Florida history within the larger national historical narrative. Discussions of race often ignore Rosewood and the significance of Harry T. Moore to the Civil Rights struggle. Joe McCarthy overwhelms all examinations of Cold War domestic policy, pushing aside investigations into the seminal 1950 senate primary campaign involving Claude "Red" Pepper and George Smathers. Levittown is the archetype for an analysis of post war suburbia while the later explosive growth of Florida, as epicenter of the Sunbelt, is often overlooked. The New Deal is presented as a series of successful government programs with long lasting, tangible results. From Social Security to the Grand Coulee Dam, from post office murals to the TVA, the New Deal profoundly reshaped America. Florida was a major recipient of Franklin Roosevelt's largess. Nearly every county can point to a library, public school, or state park created in the 1930's with federal funds, many of which are still utilized by residents and tourists.