Richard K. Call

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Richard K. Call
Richard Keith Call.jpg
Territorial Governor of Florida
In office
March 16, 1836 – December 2, 1839
Appointed by Andrew Jackson
Preceded by John Eaton
Succeeded by Robert R. Reid
In office
March 19, 1841 – August 11, 1844
Appointed by William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Preceded by Robert R. Reid
Succeeded by John Branch
Personal details
Born (1792-10-24)October 24, 1792
Pittsfield, Prince George County, Virginia
Died September 14, 1862(1862-09-14) (aged 69)
The Grove Plantation
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Mary Letitia Kirkman Call
Children Mary Call
Ellen Call

Richard Keith Call (October 24, 1792 – September 14, 1862) was an attorney and politician, the third and fifth territorial governor of Florida. Before that, he was elected to the Florida Territorial Council and as a Delegate to the U.S. Congress from the Florida Territory. In the mid-1830s, he developed two plantations in Leon County, Florida, one of several thousand acres. In 1860 he held more than 120 slaves and was the third-largest slaveholder in the county.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born to William and Helen Meade Walker Call and was the nephew of Richard Call, a Revolutionary War hero.[2] Call was born in Pittsfield, Prince George County, Virginia. In 1813 he left college to take part in the Creek War, which occurred during the period of the War of 1812 with Great Britain. Call was the uncle of Wilkinson Call, who much later became a US Senator.

War and politics[edit]

Richard Call came favorably to the attention of General Andrew Jackson, a leader during the war. In 1814, Call was commissioned as a first lieutenant and went to Florida to serve as Jackson's personal aide. He returned with General Jackson in 1821 to establish the territorial government after the United States acquired Florida from Spain by the Adams-Onís Treaty. After resigning from the Army in 1822, Call decided to make Florida his home and opened a legal practice.[2]

Marriage and family[edit]

In 1824 Call married Mary Letitia Kirkman of Nashville. Her parents were enemies of Jackson and opposed the marriage. The young couple was married at General Jackson's home, the Hermitage. Of their several children born, two daughters: Ellen and Mary, survived to adulthood.[2]

Florida[edit]

Call made the rest of his life in Florida. He was appointed as receiver in the land office, giving him insight into developing areas. He was elected to the Legislative Council of the territory and served as a Delegate to the U.S. Congress. In the 1830s, he bought and developed two plantations in Leon County. One had nearly 9,000 acres and the other, The Grove Plantation, was a square mile in northern Tallahassee.

On March 16, 1836, he was appointed by President Andrew Jackson as the governor of the territory. During his first term, as brigadier general of the territorial militia, he led forces in fighting the Seminole Indians, winning victories at the second and third Battles of Wahoo Swamp in the Seminole War. He was replaced as governor by President Martin Van Buren on December 2, 1839 following a dispute with Federal authorities over their assistance during the war.

In the next presidential campaign, Call crossed party lines to assist Whig William Henry Harrison, who won and appointed him again as governor of Florida. During this second term, which began on March 19, 1841, Call moved the territory closer to statehood. He worked to minimize the financial problems that Florida suffered due to bank failures and a national business depression. He left office on August 11, 1844.

In 1845 Florida became a State, and Call sought election as governor. His role in supporting the election of President Harrison caused him to lose.

Planter and slaveholder[edit]

During the 1830s, he had developed two plantations on land that he purchased in Leon County. Orchard Pond Plantation had more than 8,000 acres and was located north of Tallahassee. The Grove Plantation was located on Tallahassee's northern outskirts, where the Governor's Mansion was later constructed. By 1860, Call had more than 100 slaves at Orchard Pond Plantation and was the third-largest slaveholder in the county.[1] He died at The Grove on September 14, 1862.

The Grove Plantation was purchased in 1942 by then-Senator LeRoy Collins, and his wife Mary Call (Darby) Collins, a great-granddaughter of Richard Call. Collins later was elected for two terms as governor. Today the Call-Collins Mansion at the Grove is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Collinses sold the house and property to the state for use as a historic house museum.

Legacy[edit]

Several streets in Florida are named after Richard K. Call. Call Streets are in Tallahassee, Starke, Jacksonville, Hollywood, and High Springs.

In 1944, a United States Liberty ship named the SS Richard K. Call was launched.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thomas Blake, "Largest Slaveholders from 1860 Slave Census Schedules", Free pages, Rootsweb
  2. ^ a b c "Call and Brevard Family Papers", Florida Memory, State Library and Archives of Florida

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Joseph Marion Hernández
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida Territory's at-large congressional district

1823–1825
Succeeded by
Joseph M. White
Preceded by
John Eaton
Territorial Governor of Florida
1836–1839
Succeeded by
Robert R. Reid
Preceded by
Robert R. Reid
Territorial Governor of Florida
1841–1844
Succeeded by
John Branch