Duncan U. Fletcher

Duncan Upshaw Fletcher (January 6, 1859 – June 17, 1936) was an American lawyer and politician of the Democratic Party. Senator Fletcher was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Florida's history. He also served two terms as Mayor of Jacksonville and served in the Florida House of Representatives.

Duncan Upshaw Fletcher
Duncanupshawfletcher.jpg
United States Senator
from Florida
In office
March 4, 1909 – June 17, 1936
Preceded byWilliam Hall Milton
Succeeded byWilliam Luther Hill
21st and 25th Mayor of Jacksonville
In office
1893–1895
Preceded byHenry Robinson
Succeeded byWilliam M. Bostwick
In office
1901–1903
Preceded byJ. E. T. Bowden
Succeeded byGeorge M. Nolan
Personal details
BornJanuary 6, 1859
Americus, Georgia, U.S.
DiedJune 17, 1936 (aged 77)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Anna Louis Paine
Alma materVanderbilt University
ProfessionLawyer

Early life and careerEdit

Born near Americus, Georgia, Fletcher studied law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated in 1880 and was admitted to the bar the following year. He set up a law practice in the city of Jacksonville, Florida. He was a founding member of the Jacksonville Bar Association and its first president. He was an early investor in 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) in the area now called Fort Lauderdale, more specifically Wilton Manors, to start the company known then as Florida Fiber, a sisal hemp farming operation. He was general counsel for several railroads, including the Florida East Coast Railroad, which was operated by Henry Flagler, formerly president of Standard Oil. In 1896, Fletcher was one of three attorneys appointed to administer the bar examination to James Weldon Johnson, who in addition to his many other accomplishments was the first African American admitted to the Florida Bar by examination. It was Senator Fletcher who moved that Johnson be admitted to the bar over the objection of another examiner.

Political careerEdit

Fletcher became active in municipal politics and was elected to the city council in 1887 and served as Mayor of Jacksonville from 1893 to 1895 and from 1901 to 1903. He rebuilt Jacksonville after the devastating Great Fire of 1901. In 1893, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. From 1900 to 1907, Fletcher chaired the Board of Public Instruction of Duval County. In 1908, he served as president of the Gulf Coast Inland Waterways Association and later, the Mississippi to Atlantic Waterway Association.

Senate careerEdit

In 1909, the Florida Legislature elected Fletcher, a Democrat, to the United States Senate, where he served and was re-elected for four consecutive terms. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him chairman of the United States commission to investigate European land-mortgage banks, cooperative rural credit unions, and the betterment of rural conditions in Europe. President Wilson also appointed Fletcher as a delegate to the International High Commission. Senator Fletcher served on a number of government committees, including the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, where he was chairman from 1916 to 1919, the Committee on Commerce subcommittee investigating the Titanic disaster, the high-profile chairmanship of the United States Senate Senate Banking and Currency Committee in 1932, with a mandate to examine the causes of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. His committee, generally known as the Pecora Commission, began a major process of reform of the American financial system and resulted in the passage of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 that instituted disclosure laws for corporations seeking public financing plus the 1935 formation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a mechanism to enforce the provisions of the new Acts. In 1928, Senator Fletcher introduced legislation to create the Everglades National Park, which was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. Senator Fletcher also was responsible for locating funding for Tampa's Gandy Bridge and founded property for McDill Air Force Base among many of the WPA projects of the time.

Fletcher died of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. and was interred in the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Senator Fletcher was a trustee of John B. Stetson University and of St. Luke's Hospital Association at Jacksonville. He was vice president of the Children’s Home Society of Florida and honorary president of the Southern Commercial Congress. He also was a member of the American Bar Association and the Florida State Bar Association and president of the Florida Society. In 1907, Senator Fletcher founded the First Unitarian Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

ViewsEdit

Fletcher was a staunch supporter of the Confederate cause. In 1931 he delivered a speech to the United Daughters of the Confederacy: "The South fought to preserve race integrity. Did we lose that? We fought to maintain free white dominion. Did we lose that? The States are in control of the people. Local self-government, democratic government, obtains.[1] That was not lost. The rights of the sovereign States, under the Constitution, are recognized. We did not lose that. I submit that what is called “the Lost Cause” was not so much “lost” as is sometimes supposed."[2]

HonorsEdit

United States Senate ElectionsEdit

Florida United States Senate election, 1908

  • Duncan U. Fletcher (D) was nominated for the United States Senate in a primary election on June 16, 1908, and elected by the legislature in its next convening.

Florida United States Senate election, 1914:[4]

  • Duncan U. Fletcher (D) (inc.) – (99.5%)

Florida United States Senate election, 1920

  • Duncan U. Fletcher (D) (inc.) – (69.5%)
  • John M. Cheney (R) – (26.0%)
  • M.J. Martin (Soc.) – (2.5%)
  • G. A. Klock (R-White) – (2.0%)

Florida United States Senate election, 1926

  • Duncan U. Fletcher (D) (inc.) – (77.9%)
  • John M. Lindsay (I) – (12.8%)

Florida United States Senate election, 1932

  • Duncan U. Fletcher (D) (inc.) – (99.8%)

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Used in the old meaning "exists".
  2. ^ Ta-Nehisi Coates, “What this Cruel War Was Over,” The Atlantic, June 22, 2015, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482/, accessed January 1, 2020
  3. ^ Williams, Greg H. (July 25, 2014). The Liberty Ships of World War II: A Record of the 2,710 Vessels and Their Builders, Operators and Namesakes, with a History of the Jeremiah O'Brien. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476617541. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  4. ^ DIRECT ELECTIONS TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE 1914–98

External linksEdit

United States Congress. "FLETCHER, Duncan Upshaw (id: F000200)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.


Party political offices
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Florida
(Class 3)

1914, 1920, 1926, 1932
Succeeded by
Claude Pepper
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William Hall Milton
United States Senator (Class 3) from Florida
1909–1936
Succeeded by
William Luther Hill
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Robinson
Mayor of Jacksonville
1893–1895
Succeeded by
William M. Bostwick
Preceded by
J. E. T. Bowden
Mayor of Jacksonville
1901–1903
Succeeded by
George M. Nolan