Richard Keith Call was appointed governor of the Florida Territory on March 16, 1836, by President Andrew Jackson. He served until President Martin Van Buren replaced him on December 2, 1839, due to a dispute with the Federal authorities over their assistance during the ward.

His early life, education, and family

Born on October 24, 1792, in Pittsfield, Prince George County, Virginia, his widowed mother moves him and her six slaves across the Appalachian Mountains to Kentucky in 1800. His mother passed in 1810, and he went on to live with an uncle where he received a formal education. To take part in the Creek War, he left college in 1813. Many of Call’s relatives severed in the government, two of his uncles were U. S. Senators and his namesake was a Revolutionary War hero.

With her parents being enemies of Jackson in opposition, in 1824, Call married Mary Letitia Kirkman of Nashville. They were married at General Jackson’s home, the Hermitage. Having several children, only two daughters survived to adulthood.

War and politics

General Andrew Jackson looked favorably on Call as a leader during the war. He had been commissioned as a first lieutenant and served in Florida as Jackson’s personal aid. Both Call and Jackson returned to Florida in 1821 and established the territorial government after the United States acquired Florida from Spain by the Adams-Onis Treaty. Resigning from the Army in 1822, Call decided to make Florida his home and opened a law practice.

As a delegate of the 1856 Know Nothing convention in Philadelphia walked out over the North vs. South split over slavery. Call was demanding that Section 12 in support of the Kansas–Nebraska act be restored.

Life in Florida

Having been appointed as a receiver in the land office gave him insight into the developing areas of Florida. In the 1830s, he bought and developed two plantations in Leon County. The Orchard Pond Plantation had 9,000 acres and was located north of Tallahassee. The other, The Grove Plantation, was a square mile located on the northern outskirts of Tallahassee, where the Governor’s Mansion was later constructed.

By 1860, he had more than 100 slaves at Orchard Pond Plantation and was the third-largest slaveholder in the county.

In 1942, The Grove Plantation was purchased by future Florida governor LeRoy Collins and his wife Mary Call Darby Collins, Call’s great-granddaughter. The Call-Collins Mansion at the Grove is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Crossing party lines to assist Whig William Henry Harrison on his successful run for president and, in turn, Harrison again appointed him as governor of Florida. It was during his second term that he moved the territory closer to statehood. Call also work diligently to minimize the financial problems that Florida suffered due to bank failures and national business depression. He left his second appointment on August 11, 1844.

After Florida became a state, he ran for governor but lost due to the support of President Harrison.

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