Claude Pepper and Ed Ball: Politics, Purpose, and Power
The power struggle between Claude Pepper and Ed Ball in the mid-20th century in large part determined the future of Florida. This lively account of ... Show synopsis The power struggle between Claude Pepper and Ed Ball in the mid-20th century in large part determined the future of Florida. This lively account of their interlocking careers -- both dominated by a personal quest for power, money, and purpose -- illuminates the historical role of these two forceful personalities. Ed Ball, brother-in-law of Alfred I. duPont and trustee of the duPont empire, was at one time the single most powerful businessman in the state. Claude Pepper, a senior U.S. senator, was the state's heir to the liberal legacy of New Deal politics. By mid-century, the duPont-Ball empire controlled a major part of the Florida business and political establishment -- but not Claude Pepper. Tracy Danese describes the economic setting in Florida when Ball and Pepper arrived in the twenties and the prelude to their conflicts, and shows how their careers developed in tandem throughout the depression era and World War II and its aftermath. He discusses milestones in this story: Pepper's unopposed election in 1936, influenced by corruption in Hillsborough County politics in the 1934 senate election; conflict between Pepper and Ball over the presidential veto of a 1944 war funding measure; their acrimonious struggle over ownership of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad; the famous Florida East Coast Railway strike that led to measures that forced the duPont trust to divest itself of the largest banking chain in Florida; and their final titanic clash over the senatorial election of 1950. With a strange blend of principled behavior and personal ambition, the men personified the ambiguous nature of politics. Ed Ball adamantly upheld what he viewed as his property rights; Pepperunabashedly sought political power. Until now, only bits and pieces of their dynamic clash have been told.