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 William Sherman Jennings

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William Sherman Jennings

  • Birth 24 Mar 1863 Walnut Hill, Marion County, Illinois, USA
  • Death 27 Feb 1920 Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, USA
  • Memorial ID 6891994

Florida’s 18th Governor. Born the son of Joseph Jennings and Amanda Couch, he was educated in the public school system in Marion County, Illinois; graduated from Normal University in 1883; and attended the Union College of Law, which is today Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. While working in his uncle’s law firm as a clerk, he completed his law studies under the guidance of his brother, Charles E. Jennings, who was a state attorney. After moving to Florida in 1885, he established a law practice in Brooksville. As a Democrat, he first entered politics in 1887 as a circuit court commissioner. He also served on the bench for Hernando County in 1888; was a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1893 and 1895, serving as speaker in 1895; and was a presidential elector in 1896. While in the state legislature, he adopted an anti-corporate, pro-railroad regulation position. During the next few years, he served as a colonel in the Florida militia, president of the Brooksville town council and chairman of the Democratic committee; all were good networking tools for a politician. In 1900 he won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Florida. During his tenure, he endorsed a primary election practice that substituted the convention process of choosing candidates, thus resulting in the first statewide primary being held in 1902. He along with his successor, Governor Napoleon Broward, advocated conserving public lands and supported draining and developing the Everglades. Wanting to increase the state's real estate was the main reason for draining the Everglades, but draining the Everglades would destroy the ecological systems and altering the flow of water in the world’s most famed wetlands. By the end of his term as Governor, Jennings was credited with leading the effort to drain and reclaim over 3 million acres of Florida land, primarily in the Everglades. This gain in land subsequently led to the development and land boom of the 1920s. Also, he enlarged the state capitol and lowered taxes while boosting revenues. On August 13, 1890, his 23-year-old wife, Corrine Jordon Jennings died. His second wife, May Mann Jennings, was the daughter of former Florida Senator Austin Mann; they married May 12, 1891 and had a son. A strong and beautiful Florida First Lady, she was a leading member of the women's club movement, was an influential advocate for social reform, conservation of the Everglades and civic causes. After leaving office, he was appointed by Governor Broward as General Counsel of the Florida Internal Improvement Fund, which oversaw the reclamation of the Everglades. He was Chairman of the Federal Reclamation and Drainage Commission. He also chaired the Ways and Means Committee of the Naval Stores Association. He and his family moved to Jacksonville, where he started a successful law firm. He split his time between Jacksonville and his farm in near Middleburg in Clay County. He was a first cousin of three-time United States Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. His personal papers are available for research at the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

Bio by: Linda Davis


Family Members


Inscription

GOVERNOR-FLORIDA 1901-1905


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mark Pawelczak
  • Added: 29 Oct 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6891994
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Sherman Jennings (24 Mar 1863–27 Feb 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6891994, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .