C. Farris Bryant

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C. Farris Bryant
C. Farris Bryant.jpg
34th Governor of Florida
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 5, 1965
Preceded by LeRoy Collins
Succeeded by W. Haydon Burns
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1914-07-26)July 26, 1914
Marion County, Florida, United States
Died March 1, 2002(2002-03-01) (aged 87)
Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Julia Burnett
Profession Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1942–1945
Battles/wars World 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. At Florida, he was a member of Florida Blue Key, the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity, and the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.[1][2] He continued his education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from which 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.

C. Farris Bryant being sworn in as governor of Florida

Political life[edit]

In 1942, Bryant ran successfully for a seat in 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 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, he was elected governor and took the oath of office on January 3, 1961. Bryant was a segregationist like most other Florida politicians at the time, with the notable exception of his predecessor,[3][4] Governor T. LeRoy Collins. His administration continued the focus on education. He helped in obtaining funds for twenty-eight junior colleges and additional state universities. He worked to get interstate and state highways built in Florida. He also worked to purchase public lands for future use by the state, saying that it was important to do it now, "before the need arose – or before it became critical." He was also a major proponent of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Governor Bryant, as his predecessor and successor alike, opposed the death penalty, but some executions (including last pre-Furman) took place during his administration, as the Florida governor had a very limited power to commute sentences.[5] He 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 he was defeated in the Democratic runoff election by the more liberal and relatively little known state senator Lawton Chiles of Lakeland. Chiles went on to win the seat over the Republican U.S. Representative William C. Cramer of St. Petersburg. In the campaign against Cramer, 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."[6] 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. In 1972, Bryant joined John B. Connally, Jr., the former governor of Texas in the "Democrats for Nixon" organization and helped to secure Florida for the Republican presidential ticket that year.

In 2000, Farris Bryant created the "Farris and Julia Bryant Florida History Preservation Fund Endowment" for the University of Florida Libraries to preserve Florida history and culture.[7] Collections digitally and physically preserved include the Papers of C. Farris Bryant[8] and the Florida History and Heritage Collections".[9]

The Age of the Mind [10] is a 2013 documentary film about Governor Bryant’s policies and their lasting impact on Florida. Focusing on Bryant’s years as Governor, the documentary highlights many of the 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. ^ "Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins". Collinscenter.org. 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Ex-Gov. LeRoy Collins Dies at 82; Floridian Led Way in New South". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  5. ^ Michael Mello, Deathwork: Defending the Condemned, University of Minnesota Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8166-4088-2, ISBN 978-0-8166-4088-1
  6. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Cramer v. Kirk: The Florida Republican Schism of 1970", Florida Historical Quarterly (April 1990), p. 419
  7. ^ "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. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  8. ^ http://ufdc.ufl.edu/cfbry
  9. ^ http://ufdc.ufl.edu/fhpc
  10. ^ 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]

Political offices
Preceded by
LeRoy Collins
Governor of Florida
Succeeded by
W. Haydon Burns