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In 1949, Governor Kirk received a law degree from the University of Alabama and began selling building supplies and insurance before he co-founded the American Heritage Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1956. He continued his successful business over the next several years before running for statewide office.
In 1967, at the age of 41, he became the first Republican Governor of Florida since 1872. Having campaigned promising no new taxes, Governor Kirk pledged to run the state government like a business in order to help attract new business and industry to the state. As governor, he resisted the efforts of teachers to conduct a statewide walkout and opposed the court-ordered forced busing program. Although often at odds with the Democrat-led legislature, Governor Kirk had significant accomplishments in the area of conservation by creating the Water Pollution Control Commission, organizing a statewide wilderness system, and halting the Cross Florida Barge Canal project. During his four-year term, Governor Kirk also achieved approval of a new constitution, which replaced the archaic document in place since 1885. Governor Kirk vigorously pursued organized crime and corruption in the state, utilizing private investigators in order to circumvent corrupt officials and establishing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
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Image number: PR76395
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Shown after a baseball luncheon with the Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos.
Image number: PT00562
Governor Claude Kirk (left) passes on a humorous comment to governor-elect Reubin Askew during the morning cabinet meeting. Askew joined Kirk at the cabinet table to get the feel of presiding over the state board. It was Askew's first visit to the cabinet since he was elected governor.
Image number: PR76370
This was the last time top hats and tails were worn for Inauguration.
Image number: MF0091
Accompanying note "Former Governor Claude Kirk, up to his old tricks, holds a dead chicken aloft during a speech before a Tallahassee group. Kirk is protesting what he terms chicken government. Kirk says, "You can't sit around and let government run the world or we'll all wind up like plucked chickens."
While Governor, he married Erika Mattfeld, a native of Germany and a mother of one daughter, Adriana. Governor Kirk was married previously to Sarah Stokes with whom he had two daughters, Sarah and Katherine, and twin sons, William and Frank. Governor Kirk and the first lady went on to have two more children, Claudia and Erik Henry.
Item Number: CA215
This film starts with Governor Claude Kirk taking the oath of office and giving his inaugural speech. The film is at times soft and slightly out of focus.
Item Number: RW#17
Shimmering lounge music accompanies scenes from Governor Claude Kirk's wedding celebration. There is footage of Governor Kirk and his wife Erika at their pre-wedding dinner party, arriving at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea for the ceremony, and their wedding reception at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. President Richard Nixon is among those in attendance. Produced by the Florida Development Commission.
Item Number: CA065
Governor Claude Kirk introduces this film about North Miami Beach. Viewers see the environment and life in this area, including places of worship, schools, hospitals, banks, the library and neighborhoods. There are exteriors of Studio City and Capital Film Labs. The film shows horse racing at Gulfstream Park, community swimming pools marinas, and beaches. There are scenes of the Orange Bowl, Miss USA contest, Miss Universe contest, Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle and Miami Seaquarium. Produced by Don Parisher; sponsored by the North Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.