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 William Dunnington Bloxham

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William Dunnington Bloxham

  • Birth 9 Jul 1835 Leon County, Florida, USA
  • Death 15 Mar 1911 Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida, USA
  • Memorial ID 10179302

Florida Governor. He served as the state's 13th and 17th governor and was the first who was native-born. Bloxham was born near Tallahassee, FL on his family's sea cotton plantation to true Florida pioneers William and Martha Bloxham, who had settled in the panhandle of the state in the 1820's. As a sickly child, he received his early education at home and later at Rappahannock Academy. Graduating from College of William and Mary in Virginia with a law degree in 1855, he was accepted to the Florida bar, but never practiced law. He toured Europe before returning home and becoming a planter as his father. In November 1856, he married to Mary C. Davis, who he had met during his college days in Virginia, and borne to this union were a son William and a daughter Martha. Also in 1856, he ran for United States President against the winner, James Buchanan. On the eve of the Civil War, Bloxham was elected to the Florida House of Representatives; Florida was the third state to succeed from the Union on January 10, 1861. After the Civil War started in 1862, he organized and commanded a local militia unit in Leon County, which later joined with the Florida Infantry. After the war, his established a school on his plantation for his former salves. During Reconstruction years, Bloxham was in the forefront of the Democratic leaders, and he traveled to every county in the state. In 1870, he was elected to the office lieutenant governor; however, he was denied the office when the election was ruled invalid by a "behind closed doors" state canvassing board. He fought the complex legal maneuvering for years in the Florida Supreme Court and, thankful to his never-used law degree, won. The governor was almost impeached and Federal Courts arrested a circuit judge before Bloxham took oath of office as lieutenant governor on June 3, 1872 with no actual time left to truly serve the state. He is not credited in history books as ever being Florida's Lieutenant Governor. The next term he ran for governor but lost to Ossian B. Hart. He served as a member of the Democratic Executive Committee, and was appointed Secretary of State in 1876. In 1879, he was one of the first in Florida to abandon growing cotton for produce farming. In 1880 he became Florida's 13th governor. As with any state governor there are challenges and achievements. In his first administration four million acres of state lands in the Everglades were sold for one million dollars, thus restored the state's failing budget and launching the railroad business. After selling his plantation in 1884, he became surveyor-general for U. S. Department of the Interior in 1885, which he accepted over being Ambassador to Bolivia. Balancing the state's budget led to his 1890 appointment of Florida state comptroller. In 1897 he was reelected as Florida's 17th governor. During this administration, he reestablished the State Railroad Commission, aided the federal government in the Spanish-American War with troops and training camps, did audits to control waste of state funds, and improved voting laws. Described as a likable man, he was a conservative, not easy to anger but steadfast in his beliefs, an excellent speaker, and had a polite manner. He was active in founding what is now the Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, which pronominally educates Black students. His downtown Tallahassee home, which he used while governor, has become a Florida historical landmark. For a few years after his death, the home was the residence his second bride, a nearly 30 year younger Gertrude Norrell Bloxham of Texas. He was laid to rest next to his first wife and his parents. There was a plan to honor him with a county named Bloxham County, but that was short-lived.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Rattlebox
  • Added: 27 Dec 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10179302
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Dunnington Bloxham (9 Jul 1835–15 Mar 1911), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10179302, citing Saint Johns Episcopal Church Cemetery, Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .