Florida’s constitution endures; the city where it was founded is lost
A sprawling historic mall stands at the spot in Philadelphia where the Constitution of the United States was written in 1789. But if you want to see where the Constitution of Florida was written half a century later, you don’t. have no luck.
The city only existed for nine years and figuratively, if not literally, was washed away. Here is more of a story from the 1988 Palm Beach Post by former colleague Mary Ellen Klas: All that remains of St. Joseph are a few gravestones in an old cemetery, a few shards of porcelain and pottery in a museum in Condition and historical marker.
The city was founded in 1835 as a contemporary of the established Gulf Coast cities of Apalachicola, Mobile, and New Orleans. It was a time when cotton was king, and that included in Florida. Unsurprisingly, Saint-Joseph, despite its biblical name, has also developed a reputation as a destination for sailors, rife with brothels and game rooms.
State Quest:Why was the Florida Constitution written?
The same river twice:A brief history of the birth of the 1968 Florida Constitution and what it has become
Constitutional factoids:Things we bet you never knew about state charters
But it quickly gained political clout, and when the time came in 1838 to begin crafting a constitution, the privilege of serving as the host city did not go to Tallahassee, the capital in 1824, but some 75 miles away. to the southwest, at Saint-Joseph. Keep in mind that it had been barely 17 years since Spain ceded Florida in 1821, and the place was only American territory.
Its population was less than 55,000 inhabitants. And most of it was in the north. In the 1840 census, only 17 of 67 counties reported a population. Only two of them, Dade (Miami) and Monroe (Keys), were south of Gainesville, and the two totaled only 1,335 of the state’s 54,477 residents.
For a month, 56 convention delegates worked hard on the constitution. Seven years later, he will be placed in the service of the new state of Florida. Then things started to take a turn for the worse for St. Joseph’s. Apalachicola was able to move cotton more efficiently and the leaders chose to repackage St. Joseph’s as a seaside resort. It did not work.
Then, in 1841, yellow fever ravaged the city, attacking several prominent Floridians who were there on vacation. In less than a year, the population grew from 6,000 to 400 inhabitants. Three years later, the town was hit by a forest fire. And a hurricane. It did.
Several houses were bought by aristocrats in Apalachicola and traveled the 23 miles. Where St. Joseph vanished, a new fishing town emerged: Port St. Joe. Many of Saint Joseph’s records have been destroyed, including the original constitution. Today, the Constitution Convention Museum State Park in Port St. Joe tells the story of the city that made history and then disappeared.
Florida Time is a weekly column on the history of Florida written by Eliot Kleinberg, a three-decade former writer for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach and author of 10 Florida books (www.ekfla.com).