GEORGE FRANKLIN DREW, Florida’s 12th governor, was born in Alton, New Hampshire, on August 6, 1827. When he was 12 years old, he was forced to quit school and work on the family farm because of his family’s financial problems. In 1847 Drew moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he opened a machine shop and started a career in the lumber industry. He eventually built the largest sawmill in Florida, and at one time, he owned and operated 11 mills. Drew entered politics in 1870 as a Madison County commissioner and chair. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Florida State Senate in 1872, but won the 1876 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Florida. During his tenure, the state’s penal system and educational programs were hindered by back tax cuts and disbursements that exceeded the state’s economic capability. As a means to rebuild fiscal solvency, the convict lease system was created in 1877. State lands also were utilized to sustain improvements in immigration and internal developments. After leaving office, Drew returned to his lumber and mill business in Ellaville. He later served as the first president of Jacksonville’s board of trade. Governor George Drew died on September 26, 1900, only a few hours after making funeral arrangements for his wife, leading one local newspaper to report that Drew died of a “broken heart.” He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.
Florida State Archives holds the official papers of Governor Drew. The Florida State Archives also holds the Drew family papers, which consists of personal and business correspondence of Governor Drew and his family.
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.