Capital of Florida
A Capital City Story
I was born and raised in Tallahassee. Growing up, landmarks and history became a part of my interests. Many years ago- I won’t tell you just how many though – but, as a fourth-grader at Kate Sullivan Elementary School, my classmates and I took a field trip to the old Capital Building. The building is small in stature in comparison to the current Capital building but the classic architecture, glass dome, and striped awnings make more of an impression. I remember walking as a group up to the building and meeting our tour guide. The guide had lots of questions for us. Many questions involved statesmen from centuries ago. And as you could guess – we weren’t interested in these questions – much less the answers.
However, at some point, the guide turns back to the group and asked, “does anyone know how Tallahassee became the state capital of Florida”. And, to my shock and dismay, my hand lifted as if I was going to answer this question. What was I thinking? I am with my peers and then others I didn’t even know. This was going to be the moment that I venture out to answer a question? What was my arm getting me into?
My mind was racing.. What was the question again? The guide asks the group again, “Does anyone know why Tallahassee was chosen as Florida’s Capital?” And, then it happened she pointed to me and said, “why do you think it was?” I swallowed hard over the lump in my throat, took a deep breath, and gave my answere – “Well, a long time ago, there were two major ports in Florida, one in Pensacola and one in St. Augustine/Jacksonville. Leaders in both cities argued points but found themselves getting nowhere fast. They even met half way on a couple of occasions to determine if they could come up with a fair decision but it wasn’t going to happen – neither port would concede. During one of the meetings an idea surfaced – possibly a compromise – meet in the middle – and name the meeting location the Capital. It was settled, Tallahassee became the Capital of Florida.”
The guide paused with shock on her face and she said, “you are right, young man!” I’m not sure to this day how I knew that answer or why I decided on that day to come out of my shell and take a chance but the moment and the history has always stuck with me.