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tv   Book Discussion on Floridas Big Dig  CSPAN  August 7, 2015 6:18pm-6:29pm EDT

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he died in office his -- the next would have been chosen by clinton. he had just been sworn into office. thurgood always knew his job was to fix what was broken. that is why in the 30's and 40's he traveled the south and fought against jim crow. he took the insults because he was there to change the system not to rail against the weight was treating him. he knew ultimately he would get what he wanted. as i say in the book tour the end of the chapter of his appointment to the supreme court, he was mr. justice marshall and that sounded perfectly fine to him. >> c-span city store was in fort lauderdale and we with william crawford about his book "florida's big dig," which
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details the florida intercoastal waterway. william: it wasn't -- it was built for anybody and everybody. sailors, a lot of sailboats chargers steelers -- there were four principal investors in the waterway and they were all key businessmen in cain augustine. -- saint augustine. they included dr. john wescott who was a medical doctor, a mineralogist, a surveyor. he was everything. in fact, in 1855, he was surveyor general of the whole state of florida.
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when it came to picking out where the best parcels of land would be in florida, dr. wescott would know they needed about $100,000 in capital. dr. wescott put in $49,000 which in 1881 was a huge sum of money. and the other three put in the balance, $51,000. back then, in order to get a corporation or to get permission to do something, to do almost anything, you had to get a charter from the state legislature. and in 1881, dr. wescott was well known.
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it had always been his dream especially after having been surveyor general, it had always been his dream to have an inland waterway, a continuous inland waterway that stretched the length of florida. so they went to the legislature and they made the deal of the century. the deal was that for every mile of waterway dredged from saint augustine to miami, they would get 3000 -- 3840 acres of public land all along the atlantic coast of florida. which was by no means badlands swampland at all. it was prime real estate.
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and by 1912, this company had earned over one million acres of land, prescott company had earned over one million acres of land for dredging 286 miles of waterway. and when they did an actual survey in 1889 they determined that approximately 15% of the entire waterway was land and 85% was water. the problem was, except for the st. johns river going east along the coast, most of the waterway, like the indian river lagoon
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was not navigable. in other words, you couldn't take a steamship or anything like it down the coast of florida without it being dredged to some extent. and so the deal was they had to dredge a continuous waterway five feet deep and 50 feet wide. one of the things that wescott had to do and it became a big bone of detention -- contention with the legislature was the he was supposed to maintain this waterway. constantly the canal company -- and the legislature actually went to court in 1719 -- in 18
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-- in 1917 through 1919 to force them to clean up his act. we will take it away from you if you do not maintain the canal. they were supposed to maintain the canal out of toll money. remember, this is a privately owned waterway in 1925. they collect as much as $50,000 a unit. the problem was, no matter what the toll was, they were not maintaining the canal. and there is no question about that. the army corps of engineers finally recommended to congress
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that they require the state of florida to turn over the waterway free of charge. and florida was the only state on the atlantic coast that was required to turn over its waterway free of charge, because they found out in world war i that they could not nationalize privately owned canals. they could nationalize state owned canals, but not privately owned canals. every time a war would come around, congress would start thinking, you know, this would be good for the country a lot of different ways. for the country to take over this private tollway and make it a federal intercoastal waterway.
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and as originally conceived from maine all the way to key west. we had to create an entity, a local sponsor called the florida inland navigation district, a special taxing district that attach the loving counties along the coast -- the 11 counties along the coast all the way to what is now miami-dade county. nassau county at the very top in the last couple of years has joined the florida inland navigation district, because they want some of the benefits in terms of dredging. the federal government, in exchange for -- and i have been
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preaching this for a long time -- in exchange for florida buying the canal and turning it over to the federal government the federal government was supposed to maintain it in perpetuity. today, the florida inland navigation district, which our property is taxed for all property in broward county is taxed to maintain, the florida inland navigation district days about 80% of the cost of maintaining the waterway. the federal government, the army corps, is so behind in funding the waterway all the way up the coast and not just florida, that
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they contribute a measly 20%. if it weren't for the florida inland navigation district, we wouldn't have a beautiful atlantic coast intercoastal waterway. >> next on our tour of the history of fort lauderdale, author martha gutierrez steinkamp on her book "spain: the forgotten alliance" about how spain helped america gain independence from great britain. martha: i decided to write this book because every time i mentioned whatever roles gameplay in our, people look at the with a strange face. as a matter of fact, sometimes teachers would say, i've never been this in my entire life. or they would take, oh, sure, sure


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