In 1962, U.S. spy planes confirmed that the Soviet Union was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter an American invasion of the island. While President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev negotiated a deal to remove the missiles, Floridians prepared for the possibility of a nuclear attack. Fallout shelters were stocked and readied. Government officials and citizens alike participated in drills. Florida Governor C. Farris Bryant practiced with an emergency radio system in the fallout shelter located in the basement of the governor’s residence in Tallahassee. In the event of a nuclear attack, this shelter would have become Florida’s seat of government. After 13 days of negotiations, the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba in return for Kennedy’s promise to remove similar missiles from Turkey. Floridians continued to prepare, however, for the possibility of nuclear war in a new confrontation.
Telegram from President Kennedy Thanking Governor Bryant and the People of Florida for Support During the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962