Levy County may be a tiny little part of the state but it’s played a significant role in Florida history. It’s named after David Levy Yulee, a planter from the area that had a part to play in local, state, and federal politics. It’s probably not surprising, then, that the county was named after one of its most influential residents. It’s not unusual for counties to be named after local residents like this, and you can find similar stories all over the U.S. from West Coast to East Coast. Still, it’s interesting to understand a little bit of the background of this particular county’s namesake. Here are some interesting facts about David Levy Yulee.
David Levy was not your average citizen living a humdrum daily existence. He got himself involved in local politics and eventually served as a US senator. He actually served two terms as a US senator and was instrumental in the campaign to help Florida achieve statehood. His efforts were ultimately successful when Florida became a state in 1845. This man wasn’t afraid to fight for what he believed in, and he didn’t shy away from controversial opinions either.
The Florida Railroad Company
The invention of the steam-powered locomotive was instrumental in establishing the U.S. we know today as the most powerful nation on Earth. The invention enabled people to travel from one coast to the other in a fraction of the time it took to travel on horseback. The locomotive wasn’t just a means of traveling from coast to coast, though – networks of railroads became common place in every state in the union and David Levy was the driving force behind the Florida Railroad Company. He created the Florida Railroad Charter in 1853 and served as the president of the Florida Railroad Company until 1866.
In the early 1840s, Florida wasn’t yet a state and there were no guarantee it would ever become one. At the time, it was known as the Florida territory, but Levy and like-minded men were determined to change all that. They lobbied for their cause relentlessly and their efforts paid off. In 1845, Florida was admitted into the US federation as a full state with all the rights that came with that status. It was only a few short years after entering the union that Levy became a US senator for the first time.
A Little Controversy
Like most influential figures in the 19th century, Levy wasn’t immune from a little bit of controversy. His being a southern planter before the Civil War makes it easy to guess why controversy followed him. When war broke out, he was suspected of supporting the Southern cause and the continuation of slavery. History tells us that the North would win the war and the scourge of slavery was ended in the U.S. forever. After the war, Levy was arrested for his part in supporting secession, but he would ultimately obtain a full pardon and was allowed to rejoin Floridian society.