Everglades Biographies

Duncan Upshaw Fletcher

Duncan Upshaw Fletcher was born near Americus, Georgia, on January 6, 1859. Fletcher grew up in Monroe County, Georgia and graduated from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1880. He also studied law at Vanderbilt.

Fletcher started practicing law in Jacksonville, Florida, where he quickly began his lifelong political career. He served as a member of the city council in 1887. A few years later, the promising lawman was elected to the State house of representatives. Fletcher also served as mayor of Jacksonville from 1893-1895, and 1901-1903; as chairman of the board of public instruction of Duval County from 1900-1907; as president of the Gulf Coast Inland Waterways Association in 1908, and, later, of the Mississippi to Atlantic Waterway Association.

Fletcher was appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate for the term commencing March 4, 1909. He was reelected in 1914, 1920, 1926 and 1932 and served from March 4, 1909, until his death on June 17, 1936. In Congress Senator Fletcher distinguished himself as chairman of the Committee on Printing; the Committee on Commerce; the Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard; the Committee on Banking and Currency and various other posts. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 as chairman of the United States commission to investigate European land-mortgage banks, cooperative rural credit unions, and the betterment of rural conditions in Europe. In 1916 the Senator was a delegate to the International High Commission at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

South Floridians may best remember Senator Fletcher for his support of the Everglades National Park movement. In December of 1928 he introduced legislation to create the Park. In spite of opposition from others in Congress and local landowners at home, this legislation was approved May 25, 1934 and was signed into law by President Roosevelt on May 30, 1934.

Senator Fletcher died in office 1936 in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.

Biography prepared by Gail Clement, Florida International University

Excerpt from Senator Duncan Fletcher's letter to Minnie Moore-Willson, September 6, 1913. From Minnie Moore-Willson Papers, University of Miami.

"My interest in the Seminoles dates back a number of years, -- in fact even before I was a member of the Florida Legislature. The character and habits of these people form an invaluable and integral part of Florida history. I formed a resolution long ago to do what I could in their behalf--at least, that is to say, to see that this great Government should mete to them simple justice if nothing more."


Photograph of Senator Fletcher and two constituents, John and Lena Cypress, 1931.

Photo courtesy of Florida Bureau of Archives & Records Management, Florida Photographic Collection


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