Henry Flagler and Henry Plant: Entrepreneurship That Led to the Development of Florida

Lisa Ann Gallagher, Jackie W. Deem, Carol A Schubert, Bea B. Bourne


The purpose of this paper is to present events and circumstances which motivated Henry Flagler and Henry Plant’s entrepreneurial efforts.  A critical biography methodology was used to present a historical representation of Henry Flagler and Henry Plant in the development of their business enterprises. A critical biography methodology was chosen to provide a framework for analyzing Flagler and Plant’s entrepreneurial contributions to the development of Florida.  

Flagler and Plant’s business ventures provided the infrastructure that enabled Florida to be transformed into a destination for health, tourism, and land ownership. Prior to the contributions of Flagler and Plant, Florida was one of the most economically challenged states in the United States. In 1870, Florida’s population was one of the smallest in the U.S. compared to other states east of the Mississippi. After railroads were built in Florida, it was promoted as an area suitable for a life of leisure or as a place referred to by many as a Tropic of Hope (Knight, 2013). Flagler and Plant’s entrepreneurial efforts were crucial in making Florida one of the largest states in the United States with an economy larger than 90% of the nations in the world (Henry Morrison Flagler Museum).    

The paper highlights the importance of vision, strong entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, and the ability to rebound from failure, willingness to take risks, strategic thinking, and perseverance despite personal and professional challenges. This paper uncovers events and circumstances which motivated Flagler and Plant’s business ventures, practices, and any signs of collaboration between the two men.  


Entrepreneurship; Business Practices; Business Ventures

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