|Date(s):||May 4, 1888|
|Location(s):||ST JOHNS, Florida|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
As a result of tariffs and the opening of new ports along the Atlantic coast, the east Floridian port city of Jacksonville suffered mightily in the late 1800's. Many Southern farmers abandoned the once profitable cotton and tobacco crops for lumber and textile industries. In February 1888, Jacksonville organized an international Subtropical Exposition, inviting President Grover Cleveland to attend. Cleveland agreed to come, and Floridians greeted him with much pomp and circumstance. Yet, despite his presence, the city's economy continued to struggle.
Literally by accident, explorers discovered river pebble phosphate along Florida's Peace River later in the year. The economic effects of the discovery were enormous. Similar to the California gold rush, thousands flocked to the Dunnellon area to extract from the region's rich supply of phosphates. Mining engineer Captain T.S. Moorehead was the ultimate winner, gaining the mining rights to sand bars along the Peace River. Within a few short years, Florida became the world's major supplier of phosphate. In a related note, the struggling port of Jacksonville quickly experienced a reversal in economic fortunes. The discovery of phosphate led to an immediate need for an international port, thus reviving Jacksonville and other east coast Floridian cities.