Florida's Senate Seats Are Not for Sale. Including
A Few Friendly Words to the Lumber Industry.
One of the most sinister reports ever circu-
lated in Florida politics is being freely discussed
by good people all over Florida.
The report is of such wide circulation, and so
generally accepted, it is being freely discussed in
the political columns of reputable newspapers.
The report appears to be so true that no re-
sponsible person connected with the industry in-
volved has seen fit to deny or even question the
The industry in question (the saw-mill and lum-
ber interests) is one of the largest if not the lar-
gest in Florida, one of the most responsible, and
usually one of the most law-abiding.
And yet, strange to relate, this report is to the
affect that this large, wealthy and responsible in-
dustry is preparing to violate the laws of Florida
and of the United States embodied in corrupt prac-
tice acts, hit Senator Claude Pepper over the head
with the FULL POCKET BOOK, and purchase out
from under him the seat in the United States Sen-
ate which the people unanimously gave him fol-
lowing the death of Senators Fletcher and Tram-
mell, after he had in a previous campaign made
himself and his principles known in every nook
and corner of Florida.
That any serious opposition to Senator Pep-
per should appear likely is in itself a peculiar poli-
He came to Florida from a next-door South-
ern State (Alabama), poor, obscure and unknown.
His principal assets were a high order of in-
tellect which he had (after the manner of thous-
ands of American boys), by his own toil and sacri-
fice in obtaining a good education, polished to a
diamond-like brilliancy; unquestionable integrity;
unquenchable courage; good health, energy and
Beginning as a junior lawyer in a good law
firm in a little country town, serving one term in
the State Legislature, moving to the State capital
and engaging very successfully in the practices of
law there, he grew to such stature and so impres-
sed himself upon the State that in 1934 he receiv-
ed wide encouragement to run for the Senate
against a veteran Senator who was one of the best
vote-getters in the political life of Florida and a
man never defeated for public office. Claude Pep-
per put on a fine campaign and officially came
within a few thousand votes of defeating Senator
Trammell. By the campaign then made, and the
sportsmanship in the hour of defeat, Claude Pep-
per so impressed himself upon the Democrats of
Florida that when the time came for candidates
to qualify for the seat left vacant by the death of
Senator Fletcher, no candidate qualified against
him. The Republicans recognized his popularity
and invincibility and did not put out a candidate
against him in the general election.
Claude Pepper went to the Senate and in a
short time made good in a brilliant way.
He has impressed himself upon the Senate
and upon the country.
We shall at a later date review his Senator-
ial career in some detail. We only remark that
the record will prove that Claude Pepper has in
his short career placed himself in that roster of
Senators who really impressed themselves upon
the national consciousness. He has been true to
his party, true to his country, and true to himself.
With his auspicious start, his career promises great
things for the Democratic party and for his State.
In view of these facts, why should Claude
Pepper have opposition? Why should his energy
be divided, and his time occupied (with a cam-
paign forced upon him one year after he went be-
for the people and secured their unanimous vote
of confidence) at a time when grave questions con-
front our country and the Senate. Having made
two Senatorial campaign, having been nominat-
ed by the Democratic party unanimously, and elect-
ed by the State unanimously, and having made
good in a short term, why should he be denied a
It is because he dared to be a Senator of all
the people- a real Senator.
It is because he dared to think with his own
head and be led by his own conscience.
It was because he will listen to arguments
and reason he will not listen to dictation.
It is because he will not be a mere messenger
boy in the Senate for interests large enough and
wealthy enough to believe that they ought to own
The record will show- and we challenge con-
tradiction-that Claude Pepper has been independ-
The record will show--and we challenge con-
tradictions--that Claude Pepper has not hesitated
to agree-and disagree-with the national admin-
The record will show--and we challenge con-
tradiction--that Claude Pepper has not hesitated
to agree--and disagree--with the national admin-
The record will show that Claude Pepper has
carried his point a number of times in the Senate
and has not hesitated to vote with the losing side
where his convictions led him that way. He has
by vote and voice challenged the views of the Na-
tional administration when he thought those views
were wrong and inimical to Florida.
Opposition is being sought for Pepper--and
a slush fund raised to defeat him--because large
interests in Florida are not willing to accord to
Pepper that right which the National administra-
tion and his fellow Senators do accord him-that
is to do his own thinking, his own speaking, and
his own voting.
As the campaign develops, and the debate
waves warm, it will be found that Claude Pepper
is opposed for the Senate because his views do
set on one or two questions--only one or two--
coincide with those raising the money to defeat
Why should a large slush fund be raised to
defeat Claude Pepper because all of us may not
agree with his stand upon every question that has
been before the Senate in his short term?
Did all of us always agree with Senator Fletch-
er, or Senator Trammell? Of course not. Yet we
kept them in the Senate many terms.
Did all of us always agree with William J.
Bryan? Of course not. Yet we followed him to
glorious defeat for three times.
Did all of us always agree with Woodrow Wil-
son? Of course not. Yet we made him the stand-
ard bearer of the party, and President of the Unit-
ed States, twice.
Do all of us always agree with Franklin D.
Roosevelt? Of course not. Yet we nominated him
in 1920 for Vice-President; nominated the man
whose campaign he managed for President in 1928;
nominated him twice for President, elected him
twice, and in 1936 gave him one of the largest
electoral and popular majorities in the history
of the nation.
Do any of us always agree with any official
we assisted in electing? We never have, and we
have never met a man who said he did.
Why, then, should Claude Pepper, who has
made good in a very short term, be opposed for a
Simply because certain large and wealthy in-
terests disagree with his views on one or two ques-
tions, and believe they are powerful and wealthy
enough to put a man in the United States Senate
who will represent their views.
And to this thought we offer the counter
thought that there is not in the entire State of
Florida an industry large enough, wealthy enough,
or powerful enough, to have their own private
representation in the United States Senate.
Florida's seats in the United States Senate
belong to the people, and They Are Not For
The report is that a slush fund of twenty-
five thousand dollars is being raised to defeat
Senator Pepper. This sum is seriously mentioned
in reputable newspapers. Of course this is only
the beginning. If "the boys" take twenty-five
thousand dollars worth of "chips" to get the game
going, they will spend ten times that much before
they get through. The lumber industry of Florida
can easily raise ten times twenty-five thousand
dollars for a Senatorial campaign and if they open
the game with twenty-five thousand they will go
the limit in an effort to win.
But Our Seats in the Senate Are
Still Not for Sale and They Can Raise
And Spend a Million Dollars and Still
Because Old Man "Peepul" has the
Last Word And Old Man "PEEPUL" Is Not
He has sense enough to want a faithful and
conscientious Senator even though he sometimes
disagrees with him.
And He Has Sense Enough to Re-
turn to the Senate a Man Who Has
Made the Record Claude Pepper has.
Mark the Prediction Down and
Check Up with us after the May Pri-
maries. "Big Business" and Big Money
Can't Defeat Claude Pepper for the
United States Senate
This paper is not unfriendly to the lumber
interests. On the contrary we are friendly. We
recognize that the lumber interests constitute one
of Florida's largest industries, one of Florida's
largest employers of labor, and that the activities
of this industry are very important to Florida.
The owners of this paper were born and reared in
a lumber auction and for many years, off and on,
have numbered members of the lumber fraternity
among our friends, patrons and clients.
However in a friendly spirit we venture to
suggest that the lumber interests of Florida have
been well treated by the State and National gov-
ernments and that they have no cause to complain
if perchance a United States Senator occasionally
dares to disagree with them.
Unquestionably, many of the fortunes made
in Florida in the lumber industry had their orig-
inal foundation or basis in cheap timber lands pro-
cured from the General or State government as
railroad grant lands, school lands purchased at
cheap prices, and other portions of the general
domain secured from the National or State govern-
ments or both.
We doubt if there is a saw-mill or timber
owner in the State who can allege that the taxes
levied against his valuable timber land by any
governmental unit has ever been heavy. We have
no doubt that is many, many instances the taxes
payed on this class of property were not equal to
the taxes levied upon the small property swear
and the small land owner.
We do not believe there is a timber or lumber
owner in the State who can allege that the taxes
ever levied by any governmental unit upon his
saw-mill plant and equipment have been heavy or
oppressive. On the contrary we have no doubt that
in many instances the taxes levied on this class of
property were lighter them taxes levied upon pro-
perty owned by those less wealthy.
We do not believe there is a lumber manufac-
turer in the State who can allege that the taxes
ever levied against his stock of lumber on hand
awaiting sale and transportation has been oppres-
sive or heavy. On the contrary we believe that
in many instances the taxes levied upon this class
of property have been lighter than taxes levied
upon the property of smaller owners.
The lumber industry of Florida has been sin-
gularly free from anything and everything in the
mature and oppressive or regulatory legislation; they
have been singularly free from legislation respect-
ing wages, hours, condition of labor, safety de-
vices and the like.
In truth and in fact, the lumber industry of
Florida postponed for many years the enactment
of a workmen's compensation law, even after the
time arrived when they could secure at reasonable
rates liability insurance protecting them against
such hazards as accidents in laborers. In other
words, at a time when the saw-mill manufacturer
could insure himself against paying damages to
an employee for the loss of an arm or leg or an
eye, and no longer had to gamble respecting those
things, he insisted that his laborers gamble with
the hazards of employment and that in the event
of the loss of a leg, an arm or an eye they be com-
pelled to resort to the slow processes, of the law
and then divide their recovery by paying a large
percentage to the lawyer who handled the case.
In addition to all this, the General govern-
ment has not been arbitrary, oppressive or hard-
boiled in attempting to apply the provisions of the
anti-trust laws to the associational and other activ-
ities of the lumber people in their efforts to stab-
ilise the price of their products.
Our lumber friends would do well to pause
and consider whether they have not been well
treated by the State government and the National
government. They have been well treated but
so far as we are concerned we are willing to see
them continue to receive just as favorable treat-
ment as will accord with the principles of equality
and justice, because this industry is an important
economic asset to Florida.
When our lumber friends assume unto them-
selves the prerogative (as it is reported they in-
tended to do), of raising a large slush fund and pur-
chasing a seat in the United States Senate for
some Senator who will let his mind "run along
with theirs," they are becoming too Bourbonistic
and too dictatorial to suit the plain voters of Flor-
ida. If indeed they have any such plans in mind,
they will do well to pause and reconsider because-
Florida Seats in the United States
Senate are Not for Sale
(From the Jupiter News of November 5, 1937)
State Library of Florida: Florida Collection, BR0138
November 5, 1927, reprint from Jasper News.