Florida Conversations – Millard Fillmore Caldwell: Governing On The Wrong Side Of History


DEC. 2020


6:30 PM – 7:30 PM EST




The History Center’s long-running lecture series returns this fall in an all-online format. Tune in via Zoom, Facebook and Youtube.

A Zoom link will be emailed to you once you have registered for this program.


From the Publisher:

Millard Fillmore Caldwell (1897–1984) was once considered one of the greatest Floridians of his generation. Yet today he is known for his inability to adjust to the racial progress of the modern world. In this biography, leading Florida historian Gary Mormino tackles the difficult question of how to remember yesterday’s heroes who are now known to have had serious flaws.            
The last Florida governor born in the nineteenth century and the first to govern in the atomic age, Caldwell was beloved in his time for leading the state through the hard years of World War II. He was wildly successful in a political career that may never be matched, serving as governor, congressman, state legislator, and chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. He passed important educational reform legislation. But his attitudes toward race and citizenship strike Americans today as embarrassing and shocking. He refused to address black leaders by their titles. He argued for segregated bomb shelters. And he accepted lynching as part of the southern way of life.            
Mormino measures the contributions of Caldwell alongside his glaring faults, discussing his complicated role in shaping modern Florida. In the current debates surrounding public memorials and historical memory in the United States, Millard Fillmore Caldwell is a timely example of one man’s contested legacy.  

Gary R. Mormino is professor emeritus of history at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is the winner of the Florida Humanities 2015 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing and serves as Florida Humanities scholar in residence. His many books include Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida.

Florida Conversations is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the USF Libraries Florida Studies Center and supported by WUSF Public Media, and features authors and presenters covering a variety of Florida topics, from politics to fiction, history to environmental issues.

For more information, contact the History Center at (813) 228-0097.