|Date(s):||February 23, 1893|
|Tag(s):||The Advocate, Gerrymandering|
|Course:||“Decade of Decision 1890s,” Rollins College|
The year 1893 proved a complicated one for The City of Winter Park. On February 23, 1893, a concerned citizen wrote into The Advocate, the town newspaper, in response to claims made by future town councilmen. The original claims, made by the majority white democrats and self-proclaimed “honest Christians,” stated that the officials were “robbing the town, keeping no records of their transactions, appropriating money in large blocks without cause, and in short, committing all kinds of rascality.” However, the “One Who Knows,” the informant for The Advocate argues in favor of the current officials. He claimed that all money was accounted for and every bill passed and paid for was done so according to state law. He also advocated that the Treasurer was a trustworthy man who would not misappropriate money and he challenged anyone to check the books and find fault in their statements. If they cannot, he challenged the accusers to go back to school and to “practice the religion that some of them preach.” It appears that “The One Who Knows” and the original accusers were very focused on money in conjunction with justice.
The theme of money proved itself to be a sore topic around this time period. The early 1890’s was a period of economic growth. By 1890, Robber barons had already gotten their hands into the economic world, so much so, that people were worried about their power; therefore, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed in 1890. This act aimed to limit “monopolistic tendencies,” and in turn, bar combination in restraint of trade. This whole system of Robber Barons and monopolistic economy scared many people into believing that their money would be stolen from them at any time.
Another event that panicked people into believing that their money would be lost was the Panic of 1893. The Panic of 1893 began in Argentina, where British and other foreign investors, had been heavily investing in the America’s wheat crop. However, in 1893, the wheat crop failed, and there was a coup in Buenos Aires, causing the foreign investors to withdrawal all of their investments from the Americas. This unfortunate event dropped the weekly bank clearing totals almost $100 million (approximately $400 million today,) as many people in central Florida took their money out of the banks.
The three events discussed are causes of controversy and called for justice incited by money. These scares can be seen as an origin for the money worries in Winter Park in the first place. It could help explain why the accusations were made in the first place and why the “One Who Knows” felt so compelled to respond and prove them wrong; instilling justice to the ones wronged in the first place.