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Title: The Sun Shined On State Capitalism: How the New Deal and A Side of Mayo Transformed Florida’s Economy and Built Its Tourist Industry
Authors: Nuss, Trace
Advisors: Jacobs, Meg
Department: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs
Class Year: 2024
Abstract: After a series of manmade and natural crises in the 1920s propelled Florida into an economic Depression two years before the rest of the Nation, State politicians initiated programs to revitalize and reposition Florida’s economic framework. The commercialization and modernization of today’s Florida began during the 1930s. New Deal programs reimagined and rebuilt Florida as America’s playground and constructed the infrastructure to make it accessible to everyone. Nathan Mayo, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, was the visionary who guided Florida’s economic and social development during his thirty-seven years in office. His viewpoints and FDRs aligned in their attempts to elevate the Nation and Florida out of the Depression and initiate programs to form a lasting infrastructure for economic recovery and rehabilitation. How did Florida evolve into a premiere tourist destination? This paper examines through what agency the innovative use of New Deal programs and resources became the catalyst for state capitalism that transformed Florida by building a sustainable tourist industry, strengthening citrus production, and supporting diverse economic growth while preserving its natural resources. Using Jason Scott Smith’s theory that the New Deal's public works programs revolutionized the federal government's role in economic development and had a lasting impact on the Nation and economy as a framework, this paper argues that New Deal programs and resources revolutionized Florida’s implementation of state capitalism to restructure and reshape its landscape and economic foundation. Using New Deal programs, Florida commodified its natural resources to build a sustainable tourist industry and diversify its consumer and commercial markets. Through the use of historical documents and archival research, I systematically identify and evaluate a series of causal events, nationally and within the state, and subsequent causal mechanisms that Florida’s politicians, civic and community leaders, and private investors initiated in response to the events. When formulated and implemented with concise goals, I conclude that the collaboration between federal, state, local governments, and community partners can effectively implement and guide economic development programs that support private industry. I catalog and analyze the dramatic transformation in the State's landscape and economy that resulted from partnerships with the CCC and WPA. I identify how the New Deal reoriented the state and federal government's role in Florida’s economic development and its long-term impact on strengthening its economy. Florida's partnership with the federal government through the New Deal reoriented the State's economic role. The New Deal's lasting effects continue to shape and positively impact the State's economy today. Using archival and field research, including Mayo's speeches, publications, and personal correspondence, this paper analyzes Mayo's pivotal role as Florida's most powerful political leader during the New Deal. I illustrate how Mayo and the State bureaus under his leadership guided Florida's transition and commodification from a rural agrarian state to its modernization as a worldwide tourist destination and leading citrus exporter using public-private partnerships secured with the federal government through New Deal programs.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2024

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