Party Line

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I’ve discovered more about the story behind yesterday’s post, and the article featuring Emmett — a mere Freshman in the world of West Florida politics — in the company of several leading Florida politicians.

Apparently this was not a simple tag-along for neophyte lawyer Emmett; there was a specific purpose:

Emmett appointed acting U.S. District Attorney, until Fred Cubberly would come along in 1908. Source: PEN, September 7, 1907.

Emmett appointed acting U.S. District Attorney, until Fred Cubberley would be appointed as U.S. District Attorney in 1909. Source: PEN, September 7, 1907.

On September 7, 1907, Emmett was named acting U.S. District Attorney in place of William B. Sheppard.

Sheppard had been the U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Florida since 1903 (appointed by Theodore Roosevelt), but was the appointed United States Judge for the same district on September 5, 1907.

The U.S. District Attorney’s position was a federal appointment that required approval of the President of the United States.

State political heavyweights wanted a Democrat to be named U.S. District Attorney (Sheppard was a Republican). Because Emmett had, by all reports, done an excellent job as acting U.S. District Attorney, why not consider him? Florida political powers-that-be decided it would be logical: Offer the position to Emmett, who was a loyal Democrat.

Brig. Gen. J. Clifford Foster Photo from St. Augustine Historical Society, and Ancestry.com

Brig. Gen. J. Clifford Foster
Photo from St. Augustine Historical Society, and Ancestry.com

So, a well-heeled Democratic party delegation was assembled that included:

Joseph Clifford R. Foster, a well respected professional military man who served with Theodore Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan Hill;

William A. MacWilliams, a lawyer and politician who served in both Florida state houses for decades; and,

William A. Maxwell, Emmett’s uncle, who would be able to speak to Emmett’s character, and family connections.

William A. MacWilliams. Source: Florida Memory.com

William A. MacWilliams. Source: Florida Memory.com

Finally — the Governor of Florida himself, Napoleon B. Broward, spoke to Theodore Roosevelt himself (later in 1908) as a last-ditch effort to get Emmett named U.S. District Attorney. Impressive how Emmett had so many people going to bat for him for this position, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the lobbing efforts of all four men on behalf of Emmett were for naught. In the end, Theodore Roosevelt said he thought Emmett was a capable young man, but he refused to appoint him permanent U.S. District Attorney because he was a Democrat.

Emmett was commissioned on October 12, 1907 as acting U.S. District Attorney. He would serve in that capacity until 1909, when the job went to Fred Cubberley, of Cedar Keys. Cubberley would serve as U.S. District Attorney for four years.

 

 

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