C. Farris Bryant

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C. Farris Bryant
C. Farris Bryant.jpg
Director of the Office of Emergency Planning
In office
March 23, 1966 – October 9, 1967
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byBuford Ellington
Succeeded byPrice Daniel
34th Governor of Florida
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 5, 1965
Preceded byLeRoy Collins
Succeeded byW. Haydon Burns
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byElmer B. Elliott
Succeeded byThomas E. David
Personal details
Cecil Farris Bryant

(1914-07-26)July 26, 1914
Marion County, Florida, U.S.
DiedMarch 1, 2002(2002-03-01) (aged 87)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Julia Burnett
EducationEmory University
University of Florida (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1942–1945
Battles/warsWorld War II

Cecil Farris Bryant (July 26, 1914 – March 1, 2002) was the 34th Governor of Florida. He also served on the United States National Security Council and in the Office of Emergency Planning during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Born in Marion County, Florida, Bryant graduated from Ocala High School before attending Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1931 to 1932. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1935 with a business degree. There he was a member of Florida Blue Key, the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity, and the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.[1][2] Bryant continued his education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he earned a law degree in 1938. After completing his education, he went to work in the office of the state Comptroller, where he met his future wife, Julia Burnett. He proposed on their first date; she accepted on their third. They were married for 56 years.[3]

C. Farris Bryant being sworn in as governor of Florida

Political life[edit]

In 1942, Bryant ran for the Florida House of Representatives and won. He resigned the seat to join the armed services during World War II, in which he served in the United States Navy as a gunnery and antisubmarine officer in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific. In 1946, he was again elected to his seat, and he served five consecutive terms until 1956. He was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 1953. His uncle, Ion Farris, was also a former state House Speaker.

In 1960, Bryant was elected governor and took the oath of office on January 3, 1961. Like most Florida politicians at the time, he was a segregationist (though his predecessor, Governor T. LeRoy Collins, was not).[4][5] When running for governor in 1956 Bryant told a crowd: "I'm for segregation.... In the homes of Negroes we find different intellectual levels and moral and sanitary standards."[6]:176 White opposition to the first Civil Rights protests in Florida (in Tallahassee) helped him win the election in 1960.[7]

Bryant's administration continued Collins's focus on education. He helped fund 28 junior colleges and additional state universities. He worked to get interstate and state highways built in Florida and to purchase public lands for future use by the state, saying that it was important to do it "before the need arose – or before it became critical." Bryant was also a major proponent of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Like his predecessor and successor, he opposed the death penalty, but some executions (including the last pre-Furman) took place during his administration, as the Florida governor had very limited power to commute sentences.[8] Bryant left office on January 5, 1965.

After his term as governor, Bryant headed to Washington, D.C., to serve on the National Security Council and in the White House Office of Emergency Planning. In 1970, back in Florida, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Democrat Spessard L. Holland, but was defeated in the Democratic runoff election by the more liberal and lesser-known state senator Lawton Chiles of Lakeland. Chiles went on to win the seat over the Republican nominee, U.S. Representative William C. Cramer of St. Petersburg. During the campaign, in which President Nixon came to Cramer's assistance, Chiles quipped that Cramer had expected to face Bryant: "I'm not anything Cramer thought he would be running against. So he's reduced to telling lies about me."[9] Chiles served in the Senate from 1971 to 1989 and as governor from 1991 to 1998.

Upon his defeat, Bryant returned to the practice of law in Jacksonville, where he lived until his death in 2002. Never a diehard segregationist, he eventually renounced his earlier positions and came out in support of civil rights. Bryant had become a multimillionaire due to his lucrative law practice and an insurance company he founded.[10] His wife, Julia, died of cancer in 1996. Bryant was devastated by her death, saying that "to lose her was hell", and he died six years later.[11] They are interred together in the Woodlawn Cemetery.[12]

In 2000, Bryant created the Farris and Julia Bryant Florida History Preservation Fund Endowment for the University of Florida Libraries to preserve Florida history and culture.[13] Collections digitally and physically preserved include the Papers of C. Farris Bryant[14] and the Florida History and Heritage Collections".[15]

The Age of the Mind[16] is a 2013 documentary film about Bryant's policies and their lasting impact on Florida. Focusing on his years as governor, the documentary highlights many contentious episodes during his administration, including the St. Augustine Civil Rights protests, the construction of the Florida Turnpike and Florida Barge Canal, and the Cuban refugee crisis that resulted from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.


  1. ^ The Seminole Yearbook. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida. 1935. p. 57.
  2. ^ Alpha Phi chapter roll
  3. ^ "Segregated Florida". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  4. ^ "Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins". Collinscenter.org. 2011-06-24. Archived from the original on 2012-04-22. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  5. ^ "Ex-Gov. LeRoy Collins Dies at 82; Floridian Led Way in New South". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  6. ^ Vickers, Lu; Wilson-Graham, Cynthia (2015). Remembering Paradise Park : tourism and segregation at Silver Springs. University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0813061528.
  7. ^ "Tallahassee, Florida students sit-in for U.S. Civil Rights, 1960", Global Nonviolent Action Database, Swarthmore College, http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/tallahassee-florida-students-sit-us-civil-rights-1960, retrieved 6/4/2015.
  8. ^ Michael Mello, Deathwork: Defending the Condemned, University of Minnesota Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8166-4088-2, ISBN 978-0-8166-4088-1
  9. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Cramer v. Kirk: The Florida Republican Schism of 1970", Florida Historical Quarterly (April 1990), p. 419
  10. ^ ROSELLINI (cl). University of Washington Press. ISBN 9780295802862.
  11. ^ "Segregated Florida". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  12. ^ "Segregated Florida". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  13. ^ "Farris and Julia Bryant Florida History Preservation Fund Endowment Will Preserve Florida History And Culture". University of Florida News. News.ufl.edu. 2000-12-04. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  14. ^ http://ufdc.ufl.edu/cfbry
  15. ^ http://ufdc.ufl.edu/fhpc
  16. ^ Simon, Adair, R. Kay Butler, and John E. Evans. 2014. The Age of the Mind: How Gov. Farris Bryant Shaped Florida's Future. Jacksonville, FL: Florida Historic Records Preservation, Inc.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
LeRoy Collins
Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida
Succeeded by
W. Haydon Burns
Political offices
Preceded by
LeRoy Collins
Governor of Florida
Succeeded by
W. Haydon Burns
Preceded by
Buford Ellington
Director of the Office of Emergency Planning
Succeeded by
Price Daniel