Sidney Johnston Catts Edit Profile
Educated Agricultural and Mech. College of Alabama, Howard College, Alabama, and Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Bachelor of Laws, Cumberland U. Law School, Tennessee, 1882.
Licensed Baptist ministry, 1885, ordained, 1886. Pastor in Alabama at Mount Gilead, Benton, Farmersville, Shiloh, Ackeville, Steep Creek, Letohatchee, Fort Deposit and Tuskegee, and again at Fort Deposit until 1904 (resigned from ministry). Candidate for Congress, 5th Alabama District, 1904.
Removed to Florida; governor of Florida, term 1918-1921.
He was the 22nd Governor of Florida. Catts became a pastor in Alabama and soon he moved to Florida. Catts then left his job as a pastor to sell insurance.
In 1916, he ran for Governor of Florida as a Democrat. After that, he received the nomination of the Prohibition Party. Catts called for reform but also espoused anti-Catholicism and racism.
Catts served as governor from January 2, 1917 to January 4, 1921. As Governor, his proposals for reform were stopped by the state legislature. At the onset of World War I as Florida teemed with a never-before-seen wave of Anti-German sentiment, Catts attempted to exploit this to further his own previously mentioned Anti-Catholic and racist agendas.
This actually caused a fair number of German settlers to move to friendlier parts of the country. The abbot of St. Leo, Right Rev. Charles Mohr, OSB published several dignified responses to these outlandish conspiracy theories.
Because of the backlash, Catts was forced to tone down his rhetoric when in the area. Catts publicly labeled black residents as part of "an inferior race," and refused to criticize two lynchings in 1919. When the NAACP complained about these lynchings, Catts wrote denouncing the organization and blacks generally, declaring that "Your Race is always harping on the disgrace it brings to the state by a concourse of white people taking revenge for the dishonoring of a white woman, when if you would.
. . your people not to kill our white officers and disgrace our white women, you would keep down a thousand times greater disgrace."
Catts was ineligible to run for reelection in 1920 and he ran for the United States Senate as a Democrat, losing by a large margin to Senator Duncan U. Fletcher. Catts ran for Governor in 1924 and 1928, losing both times. Catts was one of the Democrats who worked against Presidential nominee Al Smith due to his religion.
Catts died in DeFuniak Springs, Florida on March 9, 1936.
Prohibition Party, Democratic Party.