WILLIAM DUNNINGTON BLOXHAM, Florida’s 13th and 17th governor, was born in Leon County, Florida, on July 9, 1835. In 1855, he graduated from William and Mary College, earning a law degree, but never practicing because of poor health. Bloxham entered politics in 1860 as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. In 1862, he organized and commanded a Leon County infantry company, but never saw active duty in the Civil War. Returning to his political career, Bloxham was elected in 1870, to serve as Florida’ lieutenant governor; however, he was denied the office when the election was ruled invalid by the state canvassing board. He served as a member of the Democratic Executive Committee, and was appointed secretary of state in 1876. In 1880 he won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Florida. During his first term, the sale of the Disston Land Purchase was both contentious and beneficial to the state. Four million acres in the Everglades sold for $1 million, helping to reestablish the state’s economy and launching a railroad-building boom. After finishing his first term, he served as U.S. surveyor-general for Florida in 1885, and was the state comptroller in 1890. Bloxham won reelection to the governor’s office in 1896. During his second administration, a direct primary law was enacted, the state railroad commission was reinstated with additional authority, and the state provided aid to the federal government during the Spanish-American War. Governor William D. Bloxham died on March 15, 1911, in Tallahassee.
Florida State Archives holds official, business and personal papers of Governor Bloxham.
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.