Claude Pepper and Ed Ball:
Politics, Purpose, and Power

Tracy E. Danese

Foreword by Raymond Arsenault and Gary Mormino, Series Editors
Hardcover: $34.95
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From the foreword:
"Alternately deft and deaf, far-sighted and myopic, Pepper and Ball framed policy and set a vision for Florida between the 1920s and 1980s. . . . [Tracy Danese] portrays the Ball-Pepper relationship in vivid and interesting [terms]. . . . Readers will enjoy this modern Florida drama."


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, whose law career has often brought him into close contact with Florida's political scene, 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 Florida East Coast Railway; the famous railroad 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; Pepper unabashedly sought political power. Until now, only bits and pieces of their dynamic clash have been told. The two figures still are fresh in the minds of many Floridians, and this story will be welcomed by historians, political scientists, and general readers alike.

Tracy E. Danese is chief public affairs officer at the Jacksonville Electric Authority. He has been a practicing attorney, utility executive, and lobbyist in Florida for over thirty-five years and has worked in federal, state, and local political settings. He has written articles on Florida political history for the Florida Historical Quarterly.

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"Few political feuds can rival the one conducted by Senator Claude Pepper and Ed Ball during the 1940s. [This book] is the first serious effort to show how this feud developed and its impact on Pepper's political career. Danese does an excellent job. "- The Journal of Southern History
--The Journal of Southern History

"In this finely crafted study, Danese traces the careers of two of Florida's most powerful and influential figures - businessman Ed Ball and liberal politician Claude Pepper - and how their tumultuous relationship in large part determined Florida's future." - Florida Living
--Florida Living

"(Danese) ably encompasses the sweep of history which serves as a backdrop for the shared goal of each man - power through the political process." -Fort Pierce Tribune
--Fort Pierce Tribune

"(Danese) ably encompasses the sweep of hisotry which serves as a backdrop for the shared goal of each man - power through the political process." -Fort Pierce Tribune
--Southern Historian

"An illuminating study of the shaping of modern Florida political history though the conflict between two of the state's most powerful men: Ed Bell and Claude Pepper. Danese is at his best when explaining the perilous line Pepper tried to walk between his national ambitions and his need to remain grounded in Florida to keep his constituents happy. Danese also excels at dissecting the machinery of the Florida land boom, the period in which Ball and Pepper rose to prominence. Danese has given us a scintillating story of two Florida power brokers in the first half of the twentieth century. Claude Pepper and Ed Ball serve as a microcosm of the larger national debate over the course of the nation from the 1920s to the 1970s." - H- Net Book Review
--H-Florida

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