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Samuel Barton, "The Wonderful Development of Florida"
1893



 

Background

Consider This Question

 

In the early 1890s, the American Press Association put together a feature series of writings in preparation for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They commissioned 74 notable Americans to make predictions about American life in the 1990s, in the process producing an interesting commentary on life in the 1890s. The variety of essays reflected the diversity of the contributors, including a senator (John J. Ingalls), an electrical engineer (John J. Carty), a poet (Elizabeth Akers Allen), and a minister (Thomas De Witt Talmage). The segments ran in newspapers across the country from March through May 1893, in time for the World's Fair opening.



It is my opinion that there is to be a wonderful development of the resources of the State of Florida in the next century. Our people do not understand what a magnificent territory that is. It will become not only the great sanitarium for the invalids of the East. But, in my opinion, it also will be a rival with Nice and other Mediterranean districts for those who seek pleasure and comfort in winter travel.

Already some of the capitalists who have been attracted to that Florida country are developing it by means of the railways. Before the beginning of the next century, a railroad will skirt the Atlantic shore almost as far down as the Florida keys. This great subtropical territory will be as thoroughly crisscrossed by railways as are some of the states of the North.

I think our pleasure-seekers will discover that the lower part of Florida has as many temptations in the winter season as have any of the winter resorts of Europe. I look to see the islands in the Caribbean sea become the resort of those who seek fashionable pleasures. For there they will find much greater natural beauties than are to be enjoyed on the shores of the Mediterranean -- and there is none of those distressing mistrals which sometimes make life miserable at those Mediterranean resorts.

I doubt whether the lower part of Florida will ever be drained so as to make that section available for agriculture, although almost anything is going to be possible in the next century. Completely to drain that area would require the building of a ditch as deep and broad as the Mississippi River. Farther north, however, I think we shall find, early in the next century, that the great sugar belt there will be completely under cultivation. And it is capable of producing millions of pounds of sugar.

Transportation facilities will be so increased that the orange district, especially upon the east coast, will practically furnish the United States all the oranges the market requires. Pins and coconuts will be grown in southern Florida to such an extent as to command the markets of this country.

I think I am not making a wild prediction when I say that, in the next century, the value of Florida to the United States will be of more commercial importance than are some of the states in which even bonanza mines have been discovered.


 

Consider This Question

Background

 

1. How does Barton's essay reflect the confidence of Americans to continually innovate and cultivate their land?




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