Florida

John D. Rockefeller paying a dime to Will Rogers on a lost bet.

Will Rogers wrote quite often about Florida and visited there many times. On one trip there, he even bragged how John D. Rockefeller gave him a dime (pictured). He helped raise money for Florida on several occasions and raised $30,000 after a storm wreaked havoc on the state in 1926. Will frequently compared Florida to California. One of his most memorable articles was in the Saturday Evening Post where he has a debate between Florida and California.


Here is the opening of that debate...


" FLORIDA OPENING: Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in his search for the Fountain of Youth. CALIFORNIA REPLYING: Yes, and the Ponce left there and died at an early age. We won't say that his sojourn in Florida shortened his life, but he died soon after, and circumstantial evidence is accepted in many courts. It has been recorded that regret killed him--regret that he couldn't live to reach California. We will admit that the Ponce left quite a reputation, but it was not for discovering Florida; it was for the being the father of the gland seekers.


FLA: When the United States first bought Florida, they gave only five cents an acre for the land. Ten years ago a dollar an acre would have bought half the state, while now land which is under water is being sold for farming land at $300 and $400 an acre." – Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1926


“I never like to pick on anybody when they are down. That’s why I have laid off the Democrats, and for over two years I have not told a joke against Florida. I knew the people and I felt sincerely sorry for them. But I have just seen the State and noticed the conditions down here now, and my sympathy is getting back to the old envy again. With this climate and this close to sixty million people, Florida needs the sympathy of no one, and the jokes of no one can hurt it. Game people, these Floridians! But you can afford to be game when you know you’ve got the goods.” – Daily Telegrams, January 22, 1928


“Florida excels in fish and Democrats. Outside of Catalina Island we can’t touch you on fishing. So, if you like to fish and look at Democrats, Florida is your onion.” – Daily Telegrams, October 27, 1932


“If the Red Cross say they want 10 million for Florida, let ’em have it. They know more than anyone else what is needed. That’s why we have such implicit confidence in them. Every dollar that goes to Florida helps some poor man and his family. We know the Mayors and the Governors don’t need it but by golly there is people in there that do need it, and it’s no disgrace to Florida to have it given to them.” – Weekly Articles, 1926