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    Banner: Portrait Gallery

    Justice Ossian B. Hart

    Florida did not see its first native-born Supreme Court Justice until 1868 when Ossian B. Hart came to the Court as its 18th Justice. Hart later became Florida's first native-born Governor with his election in 1873. [PORTRAIT:
Justice Ossian Hart]Tragically, he died only months into his term of office in 1874.

    The impressive career of this man was only emphasized by his willingness to espouse unpopular causes that he thought were right. During the Civil War, for example, he was a strong Unionist despite the overwhelming support for secession among Florida's elite. He later went on to become one of the founders of Florida's Republican Party.

    Hart also had championed women's rights or what passed for women's rights in a day and time when wives were regarded as the property of their husbands and daughters were under the absolute control of their fathers. For example, Hart was one of the state's earliest backers of the so-called Married Women's Property Act. This law, considered very progressive and even radical at the time, attempted to curtail the centuries-old law that husbands gained absolute control of their wives' property through the simple act of marriage.

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