Spessard Lindsey Holland
|United States Senator|
September 25, 1946 – January 3, 1971
|Preceded by||Charles O. Andrews|
|Succeeded by||Lawton Chiles|
|28th Governor of Florida|
January 7, 1941 – January 2, 1945
|Preceded by||Fred P. Cone|
|Succeeded by||Millard Caldwell|
|Member of the Florida Senate|
from the 7th district
|Preceded by||John J. Swearingen|
|Succeeded by||Harry E. King|
|Born||July 10, 1892|
|Died||November 6, 1971 (aged 79)|
|Resting place||Wildwood Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Agnes Groover Holland|
|Alma mater||Emory College|
University of Florida
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross|
|Branch/service|| United States Army|
United States Army Signal Corps Aviation Section
|Unit||Coast Artillery Corps|
24th Flying Squadron
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Spessard Lindsey Holland (July 10, 1892 – November 6, 1971) was an American lawyer and politician. He served as the 28th Governor of Florida from 1941 to 1945. and later as a US senator for Florida from 1946 to 1971.
During his tenure as governor, he was mainly preoccupied with the preparations for World War II and the actual war itself. With the death of United States Senator Charles O. Andrews he would be appointed by Governor Millard F. Caldwell on September 25, 1946 to serve out the rest of his term which was set to expire next January. However, he would be reelected during 1946 and would continue to serve as a Senator until he retired in January 1971. While serving as a Senator, his most notable action would be introducing the 24th Amendment.
Early life and education
Holland was born at his family's home on 390 East Church Street in Bartow, Florida on July 10, 1892. He was the son of Benjamin Franklin and Fannie Virginia Spessard. Spessard was one of three children in his family. Benjamin was a veteran of the American Civil War serving for the Confederacy and he would move to Bartow in 1882 creating the first abstract company in Polk County. His mother moved to Bartow in 1889 and was originally a teacher at the Summerlin Institute (now Bartow High School) prior to being married. Benjamin and Virginia would get married in September 1890 in Monroe County, West Virginia.
He attended public schools, graduating from the Summerlin Institute in 1909. Holland graduated magna cum laude from Emory College (currently Emory University) in 1912, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Holland would go on to teach high school in Warrenton, Georgia from 1912-14.
In 1916, Holland began attending law school at the University of Florida. There he taught in the "sub-freshman department" (high school) of the university. He also became the first elected student body president and a member of the debating society. During his time at Emory and UF, he participated in track and field, football, basketball, and baseball; on one occasion, he played so well as a pitcher in an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Athletics that Connie Mack (the grandfather of Connie Mack III, who would one day hold the Senate seat Holland once occupied) offered him a contract (he declined).
World War I service
Holland qualified to be a Rhodes Scholar, and was already a junior partner with R.B. Huffaker in the Huffaker & Holland law firm, but his plans were interrupted by World War I. Holland volunteered for service and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps, where he was transferred to France and served in the brigade's JAG Corps as an assistant adjutant. At his request, Holland was later transferred to the 24th Aero Squadron, Signal Corps of the Army Air Corps. Here he served with Lt. George E. Goldwaithe as a gunner and aerial observer, gathering information and taking photographs in reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines. At various times he took part in battles at Meuse-Argonne, Champagne, St. Mihiel, and Lunéville, where he downed two enemy planes. On one mission, Holland's plane crash-landed in a crater; on December 11, 1918, Holland was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The citation, signed by John J. Pershing, noted:
- First Lieutenant Spessard L. Holland, C.A.C. Observer 24th, Aero Squadron, distinguished himself by extra-ordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States at Bois de Banthville, France, on October 15, 1918 and in recognition of his gallant conduct I have awarded him in the name of the President the Distinguished Service Cross."
Upon resigning his commission in July 1919, Holland was promoted to captain. Once back in the U.S., he toured for the Victory Loan Drive. After that he would go to Fort Monroe, staying there until he resigned his commission in the army. After that he resumed his law practice in Bartow.
Early political career
After the war, Holland resumed his law practice in Bartow. This however, was short-lived, because Holland accepted an appointment as the Polk County prosecutor later that year. He served two years in the prosecutor's office, but left after being elected to a four-year term as a county judge in 1920. Holland was reelected in 1924, but left after the end of his second term in 1929. Holland returned to private law practice later that year, joining William F. Bevis in the law firm of Holland & Bevis. The firm grew rapidly, eventually becoming a large international law firm that still exists today as Holland & Knight.
In 1932, Holland was elected to the Florida Senate, where he served eight years. During his term, Holland was noted for his strong advocacy for public schools; as a member of the school committee, he drafted and cosponsored the Florida School Code and supported legislation that raised teachers' pay and retirement benefits. Holland also supported worker's compensation, tax cuts, and unemployment insurance. He was strongly opposed to both the sales tax and the poll tax, which he helped repeal in 1937.
1940 gubernatorial campaign
Holland would announce that he was running to be governor on December 4, 1939. He would consider running for US Senator but decided not to. His campaign running for governor would have a platform of: expanding assistance to the elderly through increasing a tax on horse and dog tracks, making highways safer, continuing a ban on poll taxes for state elections, creating the Everglades National Park, giving state financial aid for economic development, regulating salary buyers, repealing a gross receipts tax along with improving working conditions in the state. He would also pitch himself as being hard on crime but for tourism in the state.
Holland was an alternate Florida delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention. He was elected governor of Florida and on January 7, 1941 was sworn in for a four-year term. During his time as governor, Holland was noted for reforming the state tax system and supporting cigarette taxes to reduce a $4 million debt in the state budget. New property tax laws enacted during Spessard's term required uniform real estate assessments and only taxed the purchase of property. Early in his term, the teachers' retirement program began, and the financing of public schools became more stable. Spessard also recommended four amendments to the state constitution, all of which were eventually adopted. These four amendments provided for:
- New gasoline taxes to improve and build more than 1,500 miles of highway;
- New provisions for amending the state constitution in a shorter period;
- The lowering of the intangible tax; and
- The creation of the independent Game and Fresh Water Commission.
World War II and mobilization
When Holland would assume office, his audience would be concerned with affairs relating to World War II. He would say that he wished to be peace but said that preparations should be made in the case of war. His preparations would begin when he decided to review $7 million in State Road Department contracts made during the tenure of the Cone administration. He and his wife attended Franklin Delano Roosevelt's third inauguration and while in Washington D.C. he would speak with federal authorities and the Floridian congressional delegation to try to get more money for defense road construction which he was successful in getting. Florida would see an influx of military activities in it during the mobilization prior to entering World War II.
On July 15, President Roosevelt would ask 8 southeastern US states to adopt daylight savings times by moving time head one hour as a way to conserve electricity for defense reasons. A drought had occurred in the Southeastern United States which hampered much of the electricity generation by hydroelectric plants and in some cases electricity shortages happened. Holland was one of two governors in the Southeast who did not accept his request along with the Governor of Georgia, Eugene Talmadge. Talmadge would straight up reject while Holland decided that he would wait about responding to President Roosevelt until the situation had been analyzed. On July 20, he would write to President Roosevelt saying that he would not comply for several reasons. The reasons were: Florida mostly relied on electricity not generated from hydroelectric plants, its electricity supply was not affected by the drought, there was a single power line that transmitted excess electricity to other states, power plants experienced less than peak demand and were operating at less than maximum capacity and the single power line transmitting excess power was doing the maximum amount it could handle.
When American involvement in World War II began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Holland promoted new military bases in Florida and coordinated state defenses with the federal government. Governor Holland would order the Florida Highway Patrol to be on standby to assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation with putting Japanese and other foreigners into custody.
The impact of World War II would also be felt at a more personal level on Spessard Holland's life as well. One of his sons, Spessard Holland Jr. would serve as a Marine in the South Pacific and did end up surviving the war. The family would plant a victory garden and set up a chicken coup at the Governor's Mansion. One of daughters Mary would volunteer as an aircraft spotter while his daughter Craney along with Spessard's wife, Mary Holland would sew squares that were to be used for quilts that would be sent to US troops. The Mansion would open to visitation by British soldiers who were training in the area. Mary Holland would even correspond to the mothers of the soldiers.
When the United States entered World War II, German Admiral Karl Dönitz would launch Operation Drumbeat during January 1942 in an effort to cause significant damage to American shipping along the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast. U-boat activity on Florida's coasts would last until April but did have a brief lull period in March however. As a result of the U-boat activity, tourism would decline in the state and the idea of building the Cross Florida Barge Canal was revived. Holland was neutral on the canal compared to Senators Charles O. Andrews and Claude Pepper who were strongly in support of it. Holland said the reason behind his neutrality was because of the canal itself being incredibly controversial.
Holland along with members of the state's congressional delegation would meet with Office of Defense Transportation (ODT) Director on October 19, 1942. They would emphasize to him that relaxing the railroad's schedule freeze would let elderly tourists from the Northern United States enjoy the state's warm climate. Holland himself would say to him that it would allow for better fuel conservation and reduce the "chance of epidemics in crowded areas."; Holland would also argue that with more restrictions towards travelling via car that Florida was now much more dependent on using railroads. Soon after the October 19 meeting, the director would allow for additional railroad passenger services between New York and Florida but refused the delegations request for more train service to the state.
During the 1942 general elections that were held, Holland would participate to an extent despite not being up for re-election. Holland would participate by travelling throughout the state making public appearances in an attempt to generate interest in the election being most interested with trying to get a gas tax amendment passed. Holland himself even made a statewide radio address urging people to vote. That year 9 different amendments were on the ballot and Holland would back 3 of them: an amendment that would streamline the process to amending the state constitution, the gas tax amendment and another that would create a state freshwater fish & game commission. All 9 amendments would end up being passed that year with close to no opposition
During 1943 there would be calls for a special session with state senator Wallace Sturgis from Ocala wanting a special session of the legislature to revise a 1943 absentee voting law to allow for Floridians to be registered to vote who were serving in the military outside of the state. Sturgis later got the backing of the pro-tempore of the Senate, Ernest F. Householder. Those wanting to repeal the cigarette tax would also join in with calling for a special session. Holland himself would react to this by attempting to reduce enthusiasm towards a special session. In regards to the absentee voting law, Holland thought that it did a good job when it came to the first primary except in instances of those who became 21 prior to leaving the state. However, he thought it was not practical with a second primary as he thought it was very close in time to the first one along with being able to give and receive ballots as well. In terms of the cigarette tax, he thought that it would be safe to not repeal the cigarette tax in the case that if other taxes were to decrease it could serve as a supplement. Holland also cited potential changes in wartime restrictions. Having a special session would become a significant issue in the 1944 Democratic gubernatorial primaries.
1944 & 1945
Holland was also an outdoorsman and environmentalist. Holland's negotiation of the purchase of Everglades wetland and marshland in 1944 helped lead to the establishment of the Everglades National Park in 1947.
On September 25, 1946 Holland assumed the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Charles O. Andrews, who had died a week earlier. In November 1946 he defeated Republican J. Harry Schad to win a full six-year term.
In 1952, he would run against for re-election winning a signifigantly larger margin of the vote (99.82%) than last time in 1946 (78.65%). He, along with all other senators from the former Confederate states (except Lyndon B. Johnson, Estes Kefauver, and Albert Gore, Sr.), would sign the 1956 "Southern Manifesto", which condemned the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), declaring that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional, and promised to resist its implementation. Holland was in favor of Alaskan and Hawaiian statehood. Holland would be the first southerner to support statehood for Hawaii. He would end up voting in favor of Alaska Statehood Act and the Hawaii Admission Act.
Up for re-election in 1958, Holland was challenged by former U.S. Senator (and later U.S. Representative) Claude Pepper in the Democratic primary. After fending off Pepper's challenge, he easily defeated his Republican opponent, Leland Hyzer, in November to win a third term.
During the 87th Congress Holland introduced a constitutional amendment prohibiting states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. Approved by both Houses of Congress in August 1962, the amendment was quickly ratified by the required three-fourths of the states (38), and in January 1964 became the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Described as being a Conservative Democrat, he believed in maintaining the filibuster and believed that civil rights were something that was a matter for the states. He would once say in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "We'll stand up and fight as long as we can".
He won a fourth term in 1964, this time defeating Republican Claude R. Kirk, Jr.. Then, in November 1969, at the age of 77, Holland announced that he would not seek re-election in 1970. He actively campaigned for Democrat Lawton Chiles, who defeated U.S. Representative William C. Cramer in the November 1970 election. Cramer had the endorsement of U.S. President Richard Nixon, and had handily defeated G. Harrold Carswell (whom Nixon had earlier nominated unsuccessfully to the United States Supreme Court) in the Republican primary. Chiles boasted that Cramer could bring "Nixon, Agnew, Reagan, and anybody else he wants. ... I'll take Holland on my side against all of them."
Holland left office in January 1971. His activities were somewhat limited due to an increasingly severe heart condition. Holland died of a heart attack at his Bartow home on November 6, 1971 at age 79.
Holland married Mary Agnes Groover on February 8, 1919 and they were together until his death. Together they had four children: Spessard Lindsey Holland Jr., Mary Grover Holland, William Benjamin Holland and Ivanhoe Elizabeth Holland. As of 2016 their youngest daughter, Ivanhoe Craney, is the only one that is still alive and she currently lives in Bartow. Mary Holland would die after having a stroke in March 1975. In 1974, the city of Bartow would dedicate Mary Holland Park in honor of her.
Holland's grandson Spessard Lindsey Holland III died on August 4, 2014.
Holland was also a member of several fraternities during his life: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Tau Omega and Phi Delta Phi. His son Spessard Lindsey Holland, Jr. would be a nonregistered member of Phi Delta Phi. He was involved with Freemasonry being a 33rd degree Shriner. Along with freemasonry he would be a member of: Sons of the American Revolution, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bartow's Kiwanis club and the Elks. General James Van Fleet was a personal friend of Holland and did support him running for governor.
He was described as being a conservationist and enjoyed doing birdwatching. Holland also liked hunting and fishing as well. Holland was a fan of baseball and football and did play tennis. For a hobby, he would collect books on Florida history.  While teaching in Georgia, he was known to have owned a motorcycle and did crash it many times and once was flung 60 feet from it and landed scrapping much of the skin from his back.
Honors and degrees
He received several honorary degrees:
- Rollins College (Bachelor of Laws, 1941)
- Florida Southern College (Bachelor of Laws, 1941)
- Florida State University (Bachelor of Laws, 1941)
- Emory University (Bachelor of Laws, 1941)
- Florida State University (Bachelor of Laws, 1956)
- University of Miami (Bachelor of Laws, 1962)
- University of Florida (Doctor of Comparative/Civil Law, 1953)
- University of Tampa (HHD, 1956)
- Stetson University College of Law (Doctor of Laws, 1970)
Several buildings and public facilities are named after Holland:
- The Spessard L. Holland Law Center, the administrative building at the University of Florida Law School;
- The Holland Building in Tallahassee;
- The Spessard Holland Golf Course, Park, and Community Center, and the Spessard Holland Beaches, North and South, in Melbourne Beach;
- The Spessard L. Holland Elementary School in his hometown of Bartow;
- The Spessard L. Holland Elementary School in Satellite Beach, "Home of the Holland Hornets";
- The Spessard Holland East-West Expressway (State Road 408); and
- The section of U.S. Highway 17 in Holland's hometown of Bartow is known as the Spessard Holland Parkway.
- "Florida Senators". December 29, 2016. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
- "Spessard Lindsey Holland - Florida Department of State". dos.myflorida.com. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
- "The Progressive Conservative". Florida Historical Society. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
- Stone, Spessard (2002) "An Extraordinary Floridia: A Profile of Spessard Lindsey Holland," Sunland Tribune: Vol. 28 , Article 8. Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/sunlandtribune/vol28/iss1/8
- "Spessard L. Holland Dies at 79; Former Senator From Florida". The New York Times. New York City. November 7, 1971. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
- "Holland Bartow Birthplace and Present Home". The Polk County Record. March 1, 1940.
- "BARTOW LOOKS INTO CAREER OF NATIVE SON". The Polk County Record. March 1, 1940. p. 2.
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- Evans, Jon S. (2011). "Weathering the Storm: Florida Politics during the Administration of Spessard L. Holland in World War II (thesis)". Florida State University Libraries. pp. 75–76.
- Evans, Jon S. (2011). "Weathering the Storm: Florida Politics during the Administration of Spessard L. Holland in World War II (thesis)". Florida State University Libraries. p. 109.
- Evans, Jon S. (2011). ""Weathering the Storm: Florida Politics during the Administration of Spessard L. Holland in World War II (thesis)"". Florida State University Libraries. pp. 109–110.
- Evans, Jon S. (2011). ""Weathering the Storm: Florida Politics during the Administration of Spessard L. Holland in World War II (thesis)"". Florida State University Libraries. p. 136.
- White, Gary (December 7, 2016). "Chidren adjusted to changes on the home front as WW II started". The Ledger. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
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- "Spessard Holland". Florida Veterans' Hall Of Fame Society. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
- "Our Campaigns - FL US Senate Race - Nov 05, 1946". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
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- "HR. 7999. STATEHOOD FOR ALASKA". govtrack.
- "S. 50. STATEHOOD FOR HAWAII: PASSAGE". govtrack.
- Billy Hathorn, "Cramer v. Kirk: The Florida Republican Schism of 1970", Florida Historical Quarterly (April 1990), p. 419
- "Mary Holland a Political Force". The Ledger. August 19, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- "Spessard Holland Iii (1955–2014)". Tallahassee Democrat. August 6, 2014.
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Finley, Keith M. Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938–1965 (Baton Rouge, LSU Press, 2008).