SIDNEY JOHNSTON CATTS, Florida’s 22nd Governor, was born in Pleasant Hill, Alabama, on July 31, 1863. He attended Auburn and Howard Colleges, and earned a law degree in 1882 from Cumberland University. Instead of establishing a law practice, Catts became an ordained Baptist minister, serving in several pulpits throughout Alabama. After moving to Florida in 1911, Catts entered into politics. In 1916 he ran and won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination; however, the Florida Supreme Court ordered an election recount, rescinding his nomination. Catts then left the Democratic party and was elected Florida’s governor as a Prohibition candidate. During his tenure, he wrestled with the Democratic-controlled legislature, but was successful in passing several key legislative measures. Labor and tax reforms, and prohibition were constituted, as well as improvements in the state’s transportation and prison systems, and the care of the mentally ill. Catts also was a proponent of women’s suffrage and he was one of the first governors to appoint a woman to his staff. After leaving office on January 4, 1921, Catts ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and he made two unsuccessful runs for governor in 1924 and 1928. Governor Sidney J. Catts died on March 9, 1936, and he is buried at the Magnolia Cemetery in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
Florida State Archives holds a portion of Governor Catt’s official papers.
Flynt, Wayne. Cracker Messiah: Governor Sidney J. Catts of Florida. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
University of West Florida: Special Collections Department holds the personal papers of Governor Catts.