CARY AUGUSTUS HARDEE, Florida’s 23rd Governor, was born in Taylor County, Florida, on November 13, 1876. He was educated in Florida’s public school system and became a teacher. He studied law and established a law practice in Live Oak, where he also became active in the banking industry. Hardee co-organized the First National Bank of Live Oak in 1902, serving as the bank’s president in 1907; he was an organizer of the Mayo State Bank; and he was president of the Branford State Bank. He entered politics in 1905, serving as state’s attorney for the Third Judicial District, a position he held until 1913. He also was a member and speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, serving in the 1915 and 1917 sessions. Hardee won the 1920 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Florida. During his tenure, the convict lease system was abolished, six new counties were founded, and a constitutional amendment was ratified that banned state income and inheritance taxes and reorganized the state legislature. The first state gasoline tax was initiated, as well as the sanctioning of school districts to tax up to 10 mills for school operation. After leaving office on January 6, 1925, Hardee returned to his banking and legal interests in Live Oak. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1932. Governor Gary A. Hardee died on November 21, 1957, and he is buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Madison, Florida.
Florida State Archives holds some official papers of Governor Hardee.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Stone, Spessard. “Governor Cary Augustus Hardee”