The Segregation Factor in the
Florida Democratic Gubernatorial
Primary of 1956
Helen L. Jacobstein
University of Florida Press / Gainesville / 1972
___ ____ __ __
Social Sciences Monographs
WILLIAM E. CARTER, Chairman
Center for Latin American Studies
RALPH H. BLODGETT
Professor of Economics
MANNING J. DAUER
Professor of Political Science
BENJAMIN L. GORMAN
Professor of Sociology
VYNCE A. HINES
Professor of Education
GEORGE D. WINIUS
Professor of History
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Jacobstein, Helen L 1925-
The segregation factor in the Florida Democratic
gubernatorial primary of 1956.
(University of Florida social sciences monograph
Based on the author's thesis (M.A.), University of
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Segregation-Florida. 2. Negroes-Segregation.
3. Primaries-Florida. I. Title. II. Series:
Florida. University, Gainesville. University of
Florida monographs. Social sciences, no. 47.
E185.93.F5J3 329'.023'75906 72-3302
COPYRIGHT 1972 BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT TRUST FUND
SERIES DESIGNED BY STANLEY D. HARRIS
MANUFACTURED BY THE
ROSE PRINTING COMPANY, INCORPORATED
~t ~ ---
THE subject for this study, originally a master's thesis, was
first suggested by an observation made by Dr. Charlton W. Tebeau
to the effect that the racial course in Florida was set by the voters'
choice of the gubernatorial candidate in the 1956 primary. The
study which developed was an attempt to prove this hypothesis.
I am most grateful to all the individuals who permitted them-
selves to be interviewed, Governor Fuller Warren, Father Theo-
dore Gibson, Vaughn Camp, Jr., Bill Baggs, H. E. S. Reeves, and
Henry H. Arrington, and to Lloma G. Green, John McDermott,
Charles Hesser, and others who granted telephone interviews.
Governor Farris Bryant, Governor LeRoy Collins, and General
Sumter Lowry sent information in letters. Governor Collins and
the University of South Florida Library made the Collins Papers
available to me. I am greatly obliged to Dr. Thomas J. Wood who
recommended bibliographical sources, provided some figures on
election results, and suggested several additions and clarifications
in the text. Dr. William B. Munson, chairman of the Social Science
Division, and Dr. J. Riis Owre of the University of Miami Graduate
School made this study possible by providing a Graduate Assist-
antship in Social Science. The constant help and encouragement,
sage advice, and unending patience of Dr. Charlton Tebeau will be
recalled always with grateful appreciation. The responsibility for
all opinions or errors is my own. To my ever forbearing husband
and children I owe another debt, for without their encouragement
it would have been impossible to complete this work.
Thanks must go also to the Graduate School of the University
of Florida for making possible the publication of this monograph.
Helen L. Jacobstein
1. Segregation in the South and in Florida, 1956 3
2. The Florida Political Situation 13
3. Profiles and Platforms 19
4. The Issue of Segregation 27
5. Economic Development and Other Issues 41
6. Campaign Techniques and Tactics 53
7. Sources of Support 57
8. Effects of the Primary 68
The Segregation Factor in the
Florida Democratic Gubernatorial
Primary of 1956
1. Segregation in the South and in Florida, 1956
THE FLORIDA Democratic gubernatorial primary of 1956 rep-
resented a crucial decision in Florida's racial history. To many, the
election may be explained simply in terms of economic factors, and
these were unquestionably decisive. Nevertheless, a review of the
events prompts consideration of the factors of personality, public
relations techniques, and accident in determining the course Flor-
ida was to follow after 1956.
Florida's decision to elect a moderate in 1956 was made in the
midst of racial agitation by white segregationists throughout the
South. This agitation had been growing since World War II. The war
had drastically changed the position of the black in the United
States. For the first time, he had enough purchasing power to be
an important part of the economy. With the mass migration to
northern states, he had also begun to vote in numbers large
enough to be a determining factor in key city and state elections.
With improved education, purchasing power, and voting strength,
the blacks mounted a drive for fuller citizenship, under the direc-
tion of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
The NAACP won its most significant victories in the courts. In
1944, the Supreme Court struck down the white primary in Smith
v. Allright. Thereafter, blacks began to register and vote in sig-
nificant numbers in Texas and Florida cities and in the border
President Truman's program to implement civil rights produced
the first rebellion by some white southerners, who walked out of
the 1948 Democratic Convention rather than accept a strong civil
rights plank. This "Dixiecrat" movement failed to change the 1948
election, but resentment continued to grow against intrusion of
federal authority into state management of racial relations. The
spark which ignited the flame of open resistance was the Supreme
4 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Court decision to desegregate the schools. The Florida gubernato-
rial primary of 1956 can perhaps best be understood by a consid-
eration of the reaction throughout the South to this decision of 1954.
A most -deceptive calm followed the Brown v. Topeka Board of
Education decision. In general, little agitation occurred in the
South, although White Citizens Councils began to form in Missis-
sippi. People were waiting to see what form implementation of the
decision would take. The implementation decree of May 1955,
which set no deadline and referred individual cases to the federal
district judges, gave segregationists renewed hope that they could
place their faith in their native district judges. As Lieutenant Gov-
ernor Ernest Vandiver of Georgia expressed it, "A 'reasonable time'
can be construed as one year or two hundred. ... Thank God
we've got good Federal judges."'
But throughout the remainder of 1955, segregationists noted with
chagrin that in each case which was decided by a district court,
the Supreme Court ruling was upheld. By January 1956, nineteen
of these decisions had been handed down. Florida, Arkansas, Ten-
nessee, and Texas school segregation laws were set aside.
The NAACP, sensing that the civil rights movement had finally
gained momentum, filed petitions for desegregation with 170
school boards in 17 states. In 1954 seventeen states and the District
of Columbia had legally segregated schools. Desegregation in the
border states began promptly, so that by early 1956, there were
some 256,000 blacks in integrated schools in the South, about
10 per cent of the total school children involved. Nearly all of these
were in the border states. Seven states were resisting, Florida among
Hugh Douglas Price, in The Negro and Southern Politics, estab-
lished a table ranking the southern and border states according to
their southern characteristics, using six criteria: (1) opposition to
civil rights as evidenced by support of Thurmond in 1948; (2) loy-
alty to the Democratic Party in 1924 and 1928; (3) over 20 per
cent black population in 1950; (4) Confederate state in 1861;
(5) slave state in 1860; (6) required statewide school integration
as of May 1954. Florida reacted in "unsouthern" fashion regarding
1. C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New York: Ox-
ford University Press, 1957), pp. 156-58.
2. Bert Collier, "Dixie Must Act on Racial Issue," Miami Herald, March
27, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
SEGREGATION IN 1956
the first two criteria, but had all of the other four characteristics.
Price accordingly placed Florida in Rank III with Virginia and
North Carolina as less southern than first-ranked Mississippi, Ala-
bama, South Carolina, and Louisiana or second-ranked Georgia and
Arkansas. Texas and Tennessee were in Rank IV, less southern still
because of their lower percentage of black population.3
With emphasis on the proportion of black population in the
states, Donald Matthews and James Prothro, in their Negroes and
the New Southern Politics, use similar criteria to classify Florida
as one of the six states of what they call the Peripheral South-
less distinctively southern than the Deep South states of Alabama,
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.4
A Gallup poll in February 1956 indicated that eight out of ten
southern whites opposed desegregation of the schools. A break-
down by states revealed that almost 25 per cent of the whites in
the border states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas,
where the white-black population ratio was eight-to-one, ap-
proved the desegregation decision. In Florida, Virginia, Arkansas,
and North Carolina, where blacks constituted about one-fourth
of the population, four out of five whites were against the Su-
preme Court decision. But in the Deep South states of Georgia,
Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Louisiana, with more
than a third of the population black, nearly 90 per cent rejected
Resistance had begun to solidify throughout the South by early
1956. Race relations deteriorated steadily. White Citizens Coun-
cils began to organize, spreading from their original location at
Indianola, Mississippi, into Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia,
Florida, and Louisiana. Other resistance groups formed also; by
March 1956 there were forty-six such organizations.6 The Federa-
tion of Ku Klux Klans gained new life, as did a newer National
States Rights Party. But the White Citizens Councils, making
an appeal to a more sophisticated, respectable, representative
group, became the most powerful in the movement.7 On April 7,
3. (New York: New York University Press, 1957), pp. 8-9, Table I.
4. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966), p. 169.
5. John M. Fenton, "Eight Out of Ten Whites in South Speak Up Against
Integration," Miami Herald, February 27, 1956, state ed., sec. A, p. 1.
6. Collier, "Dixie Must Act."
7. Elizabeth Deanne Malpass, "Organized Southern Racism Since 1954"
(Master's thesis, University of Miami, 1963), pp. 34-35.
1956, a national White Citizens Council of America was founded
in New Orleans, representing some ,000 Citizens Counil
members in eleven states
This movement used economic and social reprisals as its primary
weapons Blacks who signed desegregation petitions or who other-
wise supported integration were dismissed from their jobs and
denied credit by stores and banks White mtegratonmsts also lost
lobs or found their businesses boycotted. In many communities it
became unwise for a person even to suggest that he might favor
Economic boycott was a two-way weapon. Blacks at last had a
considerable degree of purchasing power, and they proceeded to
use it February 195 was the month of the history Montgomery
bus boycott, led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, in a
campaign of nonviolent resistance."
Some mdividual cases of violence against blacks occurred n the
South at this tune Generally, violence was eschewed by the re-
sstance groups. The first riot in connection with the admission of
a black to a previously all-whute school occurred on the campus of
the University of Alabama over the admission of Authenne Lucy
Moderates and liberals became alarmed and appealed to the North
for patience. But the segregationists had gained the initiative, and
they managed to t change the climate of opinion most parts of the
South so materially that the white liberals and moderates were on
the defensive thereafter. As one newspaperman phrased at, "The
middle ground is dwndling between the never and the now ""
The temptation to make political capital out of the issue was
too great for the opportunists Southern ofce-holders who for-
merly had been moderate on the racial question now found them-
selves pushed into a more extreme position
On the national scene, Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia assumed
leadership of the segregationists in Congress, calling for massive
resistance" against desegregation. Tremendous pressure was used
upon the southern congressmen to sign the "Declaration of Con-
stitutional Principles" of March 12, 1956, the so-called Southern
8, Hodd1mg Carter III, The Soth Strkes Back (New York Doubleday
and Company, lc, 1959), p. 70,
9 Nuon Smiley, "boutherers Deem Violence Unliely," Mdmi Herald
May 8. 1950, sec A, p 2,
10 Miami Herald, Febnaty t 3, 1056, sec. A, p
11 Collier "DXie Must Ad "
SEGREGATION IN 1956
Manifesto. It has been alleged that most of these congressmen
signed it reluctantly after its inflammatory language had been
toned down by Senators Spessard Holland and Price Daniels.12
The only senators who refused to sign it were Kefauver and Gore
of Tennessee. Lyndon Johnson of Texas, as majority leader, most
conveniently was not asked to sign. Few southern representatives
outside the border states had the temerity to refuse.
The two congressmen from North Carolina who did refuse
promptly went down to defeat in the 1956 primary.13 Politicians
who refused to jump on the racist bandwagon were generally cas-
ualties in the elections that followed. Incumbent Governor "Kiss-
ing Jim" Folsom of Alabama was defeated almost three to one in
a contest for the position of national committeeman. He himself
declared that he couldn't be elected dogcatcher in Alabama at
that time. Folsom, though an avowed segregationist, so aroused the
extremists by his "soft attitude" that the White Citizens Coun-
cils threatened to have him impeached.'4
In Louisiana, a group of Catholic legislators made plans to pre-
vent the integration of Louisiana's Catholic schools, despite Arch-
bishop Joseph Rummel's pastoral letter.15
In Georgia, the President Emeritus of the Georgia State Col-
lege for Women, Dr. Guy H. Wells, spoke at a Negro college and
advocated integration. Governor Marvin Griffin promptly re-
voked his honorary title and the State Board of Education recom-
mended unanimously that his monthly pension be cut off."1
Throughout the South, pressure mounted for additional legisla-
tion to circumvent the 1954 decision. The segregationists had little
success in Kentucky, where Louisville continued preparations for
large-scale integration of its schools. In Tennessee, Governor
Frank G. Clement refused to call a special session of the legislature
to adopt an interposition resolution. The Tennessee senators, Gore
and Kefauver, were equally firm in resisting such pressure. But
these were border states with relatively small black populations.
The rest of the South was overcome by the wave of demands for
new legislation. As John Temple Graves, Birmingham Post-Herald
12. Drew Pearson, "Senator Holland Toned Down Manifesto," Tampa
Sunday Tribune, March 18, 1956, sec. A, p. 30.
13. Woodward, p. 168.
14. Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 11, 1956, sec. A, p. 19.
15. Miami News, February 2, 1956, sec. B, p. 9.
16. Ibid., March 15, 1956, sec. B, p. 8.
8 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
syndicated columnist, told a Miami audience, "The Supreme
Court .has tortured the Constitution. The South will torture
the Supreme Court decision."" In an article for the Associated
Press, a southerner returning home to Alabama wrote of social
affairs he attended where well-educated middle-class people
calmly discussed the possibility of secession.18
Considering the emotional setting, it was only to be expected
that the idea of interposition would be revived. James J. Kilpatrick,
editor of the Richmond News-Leader, began a campaign advocat-
ing the use of the interposition doctrine, the interposing of the sov-
ereignty of the state against federal encroachment upon the states'
reserved powers, or, in other words, nullification of the federal ac-
tion. His editorials came to the attention of officials searching for
means of resistance. By February 1956, the Virginia, Alabama,
and Georgia legislatures had adopted interposition resolutions.19
CLIMATE IN FLORIDA REGARDING SEGREGATION
"In urbanization may be found a major explanation of Florida's
relative unconcern about the Negro. While the state's politics is by
no means free of Negro-baiting, the dominant attitude on the
race question is comparatively mild."20
At the beginning of 1956, Florida was one of the four states with
no public school integration at any level. However, the U.S. Su-
preme Court had ruled in 1954 in Flordia ex rel Virgil Hawkins
v. Board of Control that forty-eight-year-old Virgil Hawkins, a
black public relations official at Bethune-Cookman College, must
be admitted to the University of Florida Law School. The case then
returned to the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled in October
1955 that the Florida segregation statutes were void. However, the
court ordered a survey made to decide whether Hawkins could
be admitted to the Law School without creating "political mis-
chief." The court set May 31 as the deadline for completion of the
survey by the state Board of Control.21
17. "Integration Progress in 'Core Area' Is Called Unsatisfactory," South-
ern School News 2 (January 1956): 15.
18. Rem Price, "Southerner Returned after Long Absence Feels Tragedy
Building up in the Mental Attitude on Race," Tampa Morning Tribune,
March 19, 1956, p. 19.
19. Florida Times Union, February 19, 1956, p. 25.
20. V. O. Key, Jr., Southern Politics in State and Nation (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), p. 85.
21. Miami Herald, February 3, 1956, sec. B, p. 11.
SEGREGATION IN 1956
The Board of Control, which supervised higher education, pre-
pared a questionnaire with the help of the Attorney-General's
office. This was mailed out to 62,000 alumni, studefits, and parents
of the University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida
Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, and to high
school seniors who would be the incoming freshman class. The
groups were all asked whether they favored immediate integra-
tion, whether there should be a reasonable period of adjustment,
whether integration should be delayed as long as legally possible,
or whether it should never occur in Florida. A number of other
related questions were also asked.22
The preliminary results of the poll were used by Attorney-General
Richard Ervin on March 12 in petitioning the United States Su-
preme Court for a rehearing of the Hawkins case. Ervin con-
tended that Hawkins' admission would be a "serious disruption
of the university system in Florida."23
admit Negroes now 22.39% 9.04%
never admit Negroes 21.04% 41.62%
delay as long as possible 14.01% 23.98%
favoring reasonable period of adjustment 41.45% 24.10%
would transfer daughters from
integrated school 32.29%
A petition signed by 225 University of Florida students pledging
themselves to welcome any new student only irritated the segrega-
tionists, as did a similar statement made previously by University
of Florida faculty members.24 Crosses were burned on the Univer-
sity of Florida campus to protest the petition. A group of Talla-
hassee area residents petitioned the state Board of Control to fire
some fifty University of Florida professors who favored integra-
The likelihood of an imminent break in the Florida color line,
combined with occurrences in the other southern states, radically
22. Ibid., February 11, 1956, sec. A, p. 12.
23. Florida Times Union, April 4, 1956, p. 16.
24. Tampa Morning Tribune, March 23, 1956, sec. A, p. 19.
25. Florida Times Union, February 17, 1956, p. 22.
10 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
changed the racial atmosphere during the three months of the
gubernatorial primary campaign.26
Fred Kent, chairman of the state Board of Control, spoke prior
to the campaign of his opposition to integration but said, "I, like
other officials of Florida, have swallowed the bitter pill of neces-
sity." He added, "In practically every other state, pandemonium
reigns. In Florida alone have we put reason ahead of what we
would call righteous anger."27 Kent, a few months later, was propos-
ing open defiance of the Court.28
Attorney-General Richard Ervin had filed a brief in 1954 pro-
posing a theory of gradualismm" in implementing integration. Ervin
in 1956, with segregationist Representative Prentiss Pruitt oppos-
ing him for re-election, radically changed his position. He proposed
a special session of the legislature to deal with the segregation
problem immediately. By May he had gone so far as to propose
consideration of the Virginia plan, which provided for repeal of
the compulsory school attendance laws, offered grants-in-aid to
parents sending children to private segregated schools, and per-
mitted local option on the abolition of the public school system.29
Senator Spessard Holland said in 1954, "No matter how much
we don't like it, or the fact we don't want it, we must not have a
false idea of its seriousness. It is going to be the law."30 However,
two years later, on the national television program "Today," he
spoke of possible methods of evasion, among them, "discretion in
the confirmation of federal judges." He listed as a last resort the
closing of the public schools.31 Holland, according to Florida po-
litical analyst Allen Morris, had previously exhibited an uncanny
ability to judge latent public opinion.32 His reversal of position
was a good indication of the shifting political winds.
EXTENT OF INTEGRATION IN FLORIDA
Florida in early 1956 retained nearly all the Jim Crow aspects of
the Deep South. The most significant exception to the pattern was
26. Alien Morris, "Segregation Shelves Personalities Issue in Governor's
Contest," Miami News, March 18, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
27. Tampa Morning Tribune, January 26, 1956, p. 14.
28. Miami Herald, May 1, 1956, street ed., sec. B, p. 1.
29. Florida Times Union, May 17, 1956, p. 24.
30. Bert Collier, "Florida Racial About-Face Performed without Hysteria,"
Miami Herald, April 4, 1956, sec. B, p. 3.
31. Florida Times Union, March 13, 1956, p. 19.
32. "Segregation Shelves Personalities Issue in Governor's Contest."
SEGREGATION IN 1956
the relatively large black voter registration: 128,437 Democrats
and 9,098 Republicans, or about 37.5 per cent of the 1950 adult
black population. Black registration was still discouraged in rural
North Florida, especially in most of the counties situated between
the Apalachicola and Suwannee rivers, which comprised the old
Black Belt or former plantation economy of Florida. But in most
urban areas, and in many rural communities as well, there was
no bar to black registration and voting.33
Pressure for integration of some public facilities was increasing
in cities with predominantly "northern" populations. These pres-
sures were exerted by the blacks themselves, by church groups,
and by other white liberal elements. The Ministerial Association
in Fort Lauderdale endorsed formation of an interracial council
leading to desegregation.34 In Volusia County, the white and
black ministerial associations of the Halifax and Daytona Beach
areas merged, and interracial services were held.35
The Daytona buses had been integrated for five years, al-
though technically the blacks were supposed to load from the
rear and whites from the front. At rush hours, the buses were
completely desegregated in the middle, without complaint. Five
black drivers, who had been employed for fifteen to eighteen
years, were retained in the consolidated system.36
The federally operated Tinker Elementary School at MacDill
Field in Tampa admitted a black child on January 2, 1956. This,
according to the Tampa Tribune, "attracted no attention what-
ever."37 Tinker had been a county-run school until June 1955, when
the national government assumed operation.
Miami, the least southern of the Florida cities, had made some
beginnings toward integration. Many special church meetings were
integrated. A few churches had black members. Some hotels, res-
taurants, and night clubs admitted blacks (usually as convention
members or entertainers).38 The convention business in Dade
County was a sizable part of the tourist industry. National con-
33. Hugh Douglas Price, The Negro and Southern Politics (New York:
New York University Press, 1957), pp. 34-40.
34. Miami Herald, May 3, 1956, Broward ed., p. 6.
35. Miami News, March 6, 1956, sec. B, p. 2.
36. Miami Herald, April 26, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
37. Tampa Morning Tribune, February 2, 1956, sec. A, p. 17.
38. Jack Bell, "Miami Desegregating Now in Some Ways," Miami Herald,
March 25, 1956, sec. G, p. 4.
12 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
ventions at times refused to hold meetings where black mem-
bers would not be accommodated, so rather than lose the business,
the hotels quietly admitted the black convention members.
In industry, a little progress toward integration had been made,
but changes on a large scale were obviously on the way. "Negro
and white are working together in many of our plants, side by
side with no ill feeling that I'm aware of," said Otis Dunan, presi-
dent of the Greater Miami Manufacturers' Association. At Miami
International Airport, one of the major aviation companies,
which depended upon government contracts for the major part of
its business, had more than 100 blacks working side-by-side with
whites, six of the blacks in highly skilled jobs.39
Labor unions, though still segregated, were just beginning to
integrate. The Congress of Industrial Organizations was reportedly
more favorable to integration, with a black trustee on its state
board, than the American Federation of Labor, which had a black
vice-president but was reputed to be segregationist. Unex-
pectedly, the unions with the most integration (with one excep-
tion) were those in the northern and western parts of the state:
in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and even in Panama City
and Apalachicola. The only completely integrated union in Dade,
Local 643 of the Hebrew Butchers, Workmen, and Allied Trades
Union, was the one exception; the unions on the lower Gold Coast
were resisting integration.40
With these few exceptions, Floridians were segregated in
schools, churches, public facilities, job opportunities, and almost
all other significant ways. The countervailing forces for segrega-
tion and integration were at work in Florida before and during
the election period. In the face of mounting tension and frustra-
tion over the race question, the integrationists were pushed to the
defensive, remaining there until freed by federal action and
gradually cooling tempers.
39. John F. Bonner, "Industrial Integration," Miami Herald, April 29,
1956, sec. D, p. 11.
40. Bryan Donaldson, "Labor Still Segregated," Miami Herald, May 2,
1956, sec. C, p. 1.
2. The Florida Political Situation
FLORIDA is not only unbossed, it is also unled."1 V. O. Key, Jr.,
could have been describing the state in 1956 rather than 1949. He
attributed much of Florida's amorphous political situation to the
state's geography as well as to its diversity of population and
economic interests. The 800-mile distance from Pensacola to Key
West has been a great deterrent to political organization.
Perhaps more significant was its heterogeneous population.
Florida had native "Crackers" in North Florida, Cubans in Tampa
(and to a lesser extent in 1956 in Miami), Jews in Miami Beach,
and Greeks in Tarpon Springs. There were retirees in St. Peters-
burg, blacks concentrated in Jacksonville, Miami, and some rural
northern counties, and, most meaningful of all, huge numbers of
immigrants from other states, nearly all of them settled in peninsu-
lar Florida. Half of the population was born out of the state.
Vast economic differences existed between rural North Florida,
the central citrus belt, the south-central cattle area, and the large
urban centers. Even the northern and western rural sections had
areas of tourist strips like Panama City, university towns like Tal-
lahassee and Gainesville, and industrial towns. Pensacola, for ex-
ample, had huge military installations, paper mills, and a nearby
$85 million Chemstrand nylon plant.2 Wide differences divided
the urban areas as well. Jacksonville was a leading insurance cen-
ter as well as a railroad and seaport hub, yet it retained many of
the "Old South" attitudes to which Miami and St. Petersburg,
populated by new Floridians and concerned with tourism, at-
tached little significance.3
Rapid immigration had produced a fluid social and political situ-
1. Key, Southern Politics in State and Nation, p. 83.
2. William A. Emerson, Jr., "The Peculiar State of Florida Politics," News-
week 47 (May 7, 1956): 30.
3. William C. Havard and Loren P. Beth, The Politics of Misrepresenta-
tion (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1962), pp. 20-21.
14 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
ation where factions had not had time to develop. The population
was estimated to have increased 33 per cent between 1950 and
1956. This population growth was accompanied by a correspond-
ing increase in urbanization, so that by 1956 the urban areas
had over 70 per cent of the people.4
Urbanization had so shifted voting power that the ten largest
counties in 1956 could control a statewide election. The guberna-
torial primaries of 1952 and 1954 reflected this dominance. The
urban areas tended to have an overwhelming business orienta-
tion, particularly because of the weakness of organized labor.
Governors Dan McCarty and LeRoy Collins were both inclined
toward urban interests and moderate conservatism, advocating
governmental reform such as constitutional revision, reapportion-
ment, better schools and highways, and a moderate approach to
The huge numbers of transplanted northerners and the great
interest in economic development and rapid industrialization were
largely responsible for Florida's political dichotomy-presidential
Republicanism and Democratic control of state and local govern-
ment. Republicans had not made a serious attempt to capture
state and local offices except in two or three counties and, con-
sequently, one-party rule still prevailed in 1956.
Lack of competition from another party plus the aforemen-
tioned factors contributed to Florida's unstructured politics. This
relative absence of faction produced a situation where each can-
didate concerned himself only with his own campaign. One candi-
date collaborating with another could easily transfer that candidate's
enemies to himself, and would leave himself open to the charge of
being part of a machine. An outgoing office-holder often was unable
to transfer his following to a favored successor, for such endorse-
ment would have left him open to charges of creating a dynasty.
Frequently a governor, for example, could not even keep his own
following should he subsequently run for the Senate. Spessard
Holland was considered a rare political phenomenon for accom-
plishing such a feat in 1946.6 Factions, where they actually existed,
constantly shifted in such a political atmosphere.
The cabinet in Florida was exceedingly powerful. Cabinet mem-
4. Allen Morris Compp.), The Florida Handbook (Tallahassee: Peninsular
Publishing Co., 1957), pp. 321-22.
5. Havard and Beth, p. 20. 6. Key, p. 102.
THE FLORIDA POLITICAL SITUATION 15
bers, in contrast to the governor, could succeed themselves in
office. Most frequently, they ran unopposed. By 1956 Nathan
Mayo, the incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture, had served
in that capacity for thirty-three years. The Secretary of State,
R. A. Gray, had been in office since 1930. Because of this security
of tenure, cabinet members tended to build up their own influence
with the legislature. Their independence of the governor com-
bined with their tenure weakened the executive office.
The governor's position with the legislature was also relatively
powerless. The Florida legislature, because of malapportionment,
had been representative largely of rural North Florida. The gov-
ernor, often elected statewide by the preponderantly urban South
Florida vote, frequently had little control over the legislature be-
yond patronage, the veto, and his own persuasive powers. The con-
stitutional prohibition against a second consecutive four-year term
for the governor reduced the effectiveness of the patronage factor
on the legislature.
Such factors as personality and public relations techniques
were disproportionately important for candidates because of the
lack of party and factional leadership. Personality differences be-
came all important in the gubernatorial elections before 1956
because of the absence of overwhelmingly important issues. Can-
didates argued over local law enforcement, the best road-building
plan, or taxes, but ideological differences were often undiscernible.
Prosperity and immigration had made Florida unreceptive to the
economic liberal, personified by Senator Claude Pepper.7
A number of events which had occurred in previous administra-
tions were profoundly influencing Florida politics in 1956. The
Fuller Warren administration (1949-53) had gained a reputation
of indifference to gambling and racketeering, particularly be-
cause of Warren's refusal to testify before the Kefauver Commit-
tee investigating rackets.
Dan McCarty had been elected in 1952 on a platform dedi-
cated to strict law enforcement, industrial expansion, and better
schools and highways. He suffered a heart attack a month after his
inauguration and died in September 1953. Florida had no lieuten-
ant governor until the 1968 constitutional revision. The president
of the Senate, Charley Johns, succeeded McCarty as acting gov-
ernor until the next election, in accordance with Florida law.
7. Morris, "Segregation Shelves Personalities Issue in Governor's Contest."
16 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Johns was leader of the Senate majority from rural N6rth Florida.
He reversed most of McCarty's programs and fired his appointees.
All the members of the State Road Board and the State Racing
Commission were replaced with Johns' supporters. Public indigna-
tion against Johns, especially in urban South Florida, was ex-
treme. Johns ran again in 1954 for the remaining two years of
McCarty's term. LeRoy Collins, who pledged himself to carry out
McCarty's program, ran second to Johns in the first primary.
Brailey Odham, McCarty's adversary in 1952 and third man in
the 1954 primary, threw his support to Collins. Odham's supporters
followed his example, for Collins gained almost as many votes in
the second primary as Odham had received, thus defeating
Charley Johns 380,000 to 314,000. The vote was plainly along
sectional lines. Johns won thirty-four of the thirty-six North Flor-
ida counties. Collins carried populous South Florida by a wide
margin, but in North Florida won only his own Leon and adja-
cent Jefferson counties.8
The sectional battle for reapportionment in the 1955 legislature
left its scars. An open cleavage between large and small counties
developed over the unresolved reapportionment issue. The North
Florida counties refused to relinquish any substantial power de-
spite the constitutional requirement that they reapportion ac-
cording to specified criteria. Members of the Pork Chop Gang,
as the dominant rural North Florida faction of the legislature was
called, openly resented Collins' appeal over their heads to the rest
of the state. Their resentment carried over to other issues, and
from that time on they stood as a more or less permanent faction
against urban interests.9 Thus, while permanent factions were
almost nonexistent in most of Florida, the Pork Chop Gang had
emerged as a functional one by the time of the 1956 primary.
Special interests played a disproportionately important role in
Florida politics. For almost twenty years, Ed Ball, representative of
the huge Du Pont Florida interests, was a dominant figure in
Florida politics. He had pressed for a sales tax for many years,
and finally succeeded during the Warren administration in getting
one passed. He had contributed to Warren's campaign.10 Road con-
8. Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, p. 98.
9. Havard and Beth, p. 58.
10. Martin Waldron, "The Establishment: Rural 'Pork Chop Gang' Rules
the Capital Roost," Miami Herald, February 18, 1964, sec. A, p. 20.
THE FLORIDA POLITICAL SITUATION 17
tractors, liquor distributors, and racetrack operators were also
major contributors to political campaigns. They and innumerable
others maintained well-financed lobbyists and exerted considerable
power in government.
In the months before the 1956 primary campaign, much specu-
lation centered around whether Governor LeRoy Collins would
be declared eligible to succeed himself. A number of Collins' sup-
porters considered running if he were ruled ineligible or if the
Supreme Court delayed ruling until after the qualifying date.
John McCarty, Dan McCarty's brother, who was proxy governor
for six months during the latter's illness, was one of those men-
tioned, as was former United States Representative William Lantaff
of Miami, Brailey Odham of Sanford, former Senator Henry
Baynard of St. Petersburg, and House Speaker Thomas E. (Ted)
David of Hollywood." In addition to Collins' backers, former
Comptroller C. M. Gay of Orlando said that he was seriously con-
sidering the gubernatorial contest, and friends of former Acting
Governor Charley Johns said that concern over integration might
motivate him to try once again.12
State Representative C. Farris Bryant had been preparing for
the governor's campaign for three years and was the first serious
candidate to announce, followed by Lt. Gen. Sumter Lowry and
then Fuller Warren, the former governor. Warren's candidacy was
viewed as the most serious threat to Collins. His friends said that
his organization was practically intact. John McDermott of the
Miami Herald, talking of Warren's imminent announcement, pre-
dicted that Johns' supporters would back him, and that his native
rural Northwest Florida would give him a heavy majority as
would populous Duval County, where he had lived for twenty
years.13 Even Warren's bitterest enemies respected his ability and
influence. Brailey Odham said, "Warren is a definite threat. He
will be minus the power of the governor's office, which Johns had,
but he will have the gratitude of many of his followers with whom
he dealt intimately while he served as Governor. Fuller possesses
the ability to appeal to the masses of the voters-to convince them
that he's the best friend they can have in office."14 Bryant was not
11. Miami Herald, March 2, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
12. Florida Times Union, February 19, 1956, p. 22.
13. "Warren Runs for Governor," Miami Herald, February 17, 1956, street
ed., sec. A, p. 1.
14. Miami News, February 5, 1956, sec. A, p. 4.
18 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
rated much of a chance if Collins were ruled eligible. Bryant's
timing in choosing a year when incumbent Collins was running
was considered a mistake, particularly since he was at the height
of his influence and popularity in 1953 when he was speaker.15
Bryant's appeal was thought to be to substantially the same
voters who were expected to support Collins. At the same time, it
was believed that Warren would gain strength if Bryant could
siphon off enough of Collins' votes.'6 Even as late as March 22,
Warren was still rated Collins' chief opposition."
Lowry's candidacy was not lightly disregarded by political ob-
servers. Charles Hesser of the Miami News predicted, "As the cam-
paign wears on, Lowry will promise more and more and demand
more and more from his adversaries." He went on to warn those
who scoffed at Lowry's candidacy that in 1916, Sidney J. Catts
won election on an anti-Catholic and prohibition platform over
four opponents. Resentment over integration now, Hesser specu-
lated, might be deeper than religious prejudice in 1916.18
The Florida Supreme Court finally ruled on March 5, one day be-
fore the end of the qualifying period, that Collins was eligible to
run again because he hadn't served a full four-year term.19 Col-
lins supporters were jubilant, the other candidates correspond-
ingly disgruntled. Collins, as incumbent, was considered the man
to beat. As governor, he had opportunities to act on issues while
the others could only make promises. He could appear at state
functions and before organizations and could get news coverage
not available to the other candidates. He also had the inside track
in tapping the sources of contribution money.
At the close of the 1955 legislature, it had appeared that taxes
would be the primary issue in the 1956 gubernatorial campaign.
However, continued prosperity brought an unanticipated collection
of taxes, thus eliminating it as an issue.20 The most obvious issue
to fill the vacuum, considering the experiences of the rest of the
South, was integration.
15. John McDermott, "Three Candidates Look Alike," Miami Herald,
March 18, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
16. Miami News, February 5, 1956, sec. A, p. 4.
17. McDermott, "Three Candidates."
18. "Campaign Issue: Segregation," Miami News, February 5, 1956, sec.
C, p. 2.
19. Florida Times Union, March 6, 1956, p. 18.
20. Hendrix Chandler, "Tax Issue Fades as Governorship Campaign Issue,"
Tampa Sunday Tribune, February 5, 1956, sec. A, p. 8.
5. Profiles and Platforms
LEROY COLLINS was an example of the poor boy who made
good. The son of a Tallahassee neighborhood grocer, he worked
as a delivery boy and stock clerk in another grocery for his tuition
at the Eastman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, New York, and
as a shipping clerk and bank teller to pay his way to law school
at Cumberland University. He was elected state representative
from Leon County in 1932 at the age of twenty-five, remaining
in the House until 1940 when he was elected state senator. With
time out for war service in the Navy, Collins served in the Senate
until 1954.1 In 1953, he was named "most valuable" senator in the
St. Petersburg Times poll of the press and "most valuable legisla-
tor" in the Allen Morris poll of legislators.2
Though a native of Northwest Florida, in the legislature Collins
was generally identified with the progressive forces who advo-
cated constitutional revision, better schools, women's rights,
and aid to the disabled, deaf, and blind. He led in the campaign
to outlaw slot machines3 and in 1953 was one of the chief Senate
proponents of the full Florida turnpike.4
Collins had been a personal friend of the late Governor Dan
McCarty. He ran for governor in 1954 to fill the remaining two
years of McCarty's term, opposing Acting Governor Charley Johns
and Brailey Odham, Sanford businessman. Collins' efforts to se-
cure administrative reorganization, allocation of additional funds
for buying highway rights of way, and other items in his program
were largely frustrated in the 1955 legislature because of the ac-
rimony which developed over the reapportionment issue. He was
1. Morris, The Florida Handbook (1959 ed.), pp. 106-17.
2. Ibid., p. 141.
3. Miami Herald, editorial, May 7, 1956, sec. A, p. 6.
4. Ibid., May 6, 1956, sec. G, p. 1.
20 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
criticized by his own supporters for his failure to use patronage
and restriction of road construction to club recalcitrant legislators
into line.5 Many believed that Collins could have achieved more
progress simply by making personal appeals to several wavering
legislators or by bribing them with public displays of regard in
front of the press or newsreel cameras.
He made a great effort to identify himself with business, particu-
larly by encouraging new industry to settle in Florida. Collins'
image in the state press and with the Chambers of Commerce,
especially in South Florida, remained untarnished despite his
His personality and family life were certainly most effective in
presenting the proper image. He was married to a descendant of the
territorial governor Richard Keith Call. He and his wife had four
children, including a little girl who in 1956 was a most appealing
subject for newspaper photographers. Collins himself was young
(forty-seven), tall, slim, and handsome. He presented an air of
sincerity and urbanity, which was effectively transmitted to the
public, for he was skilled in radio and television speaking.
Fuller Warren, governor of Florida from 1949 to 1953, was a na-
tive of Blountstown in rural Northwest Florida. He attended the
University of Florida and received his law degree, like Collins,
from Cumberland University. He was a political prodigy, for he
was elected to serve his native Calhoun County in the state legis-
lature when he was only twenty-one, while he was still at the
University of Florida. He moved to Jacksonville, practiced law,
and served three terms on the city council and one term in the
legislature as a representative of Duval County. He was defeated
as a gubernatorial candidate in 1940, running third with 17.3 per
cent of the vote, but in 1948, after war service in the Navy, he
defeated Dan McCarty in the second primary with a margin of
23,000 votes.6 He ran strongest in rural Northwest Florida, where
he campaigned with a hillbilly band playing "Roly-Poly."7 Warren
was considered less conservative than McCarty, picking up con-
siderable labor and urban black support, as well as the remnant
Populist vote of North Florida.8
5. Havard and Beth, The Politics of Misrepresentation, pp. 57-59.
6. Morris, 1959 ed., p. 204.
7. Morris, Appendix to Fuller Warren, How to Win in Politics (Talla-
hassee: Peninsular Publishing Company, 1949), p. 169.
8. Key, Southern Politics in State and Nation, pp. 95-100.
PROFILES AND PLATFORMS
Warren's administration aroused considerable controversy. On
the one hand, a number of major improvement projects were be-
gun during his term of office. He promoted the fencing of the
open range, road-building, unmasking of the Ku Klux Klan, and
attracting of industry. He had run on an anti-sales tax plank, but
once in office, he called the legislature into special session in
1949, after their failure to make the necessary appropriations,
and supported the limited sales tax which was passed. It was noted
that Ed Ball, Du Pont brother-in-law and long a law unto himself
in Florida politics, had contributed to Warren's campaign and had
promoted the sales tax for many years. Warren battled constantly
with the state newspapers. The Kefauver Crime Investigating
Committee discovered that Warren's campaign had been mostly
financed by three individuals: Jacksonville financier Louis Wolfson,
who gave over $150,000, citrus and real estate investor C. V. Griffin,
who contributed over $154,000, and horse and dog track official
William H. (Big Bill) Johnson, who gave over $100,000.9 The
Florida newspapers seized upon the revelations with glee. War-
ren's refusal to respond to a subpoena from the Kefauver Commit-
tee which was investigating organized crime in Florida created
Warren, divorced before his term as governor, married a young
California beauty queen while in office. They moved to Miami
Beach on completion of his term and Warren practiced law in
Dade County. In 1956, he was fifty years old, silver-haired, and
personable. He was a man of considerable charm and persuasive-
ness, friendly and genial, a skilled orator with an unmistakable
North Florida accent, a tremendous vocabulary, and a quick wit,
never at a loss for the apt retort. Warren was generally catego-
rized as a "Cracker" politician, whose effectiveness in Florida was
minimized by the urbanity of the so-called Chamber of Commerce
type of candidate, exemplified by Senator George Smathers or
Lieutenant General Sumter Lowry, retired, was from Tampa. He
had attended Virginia Military Institute, where he won the Cin-
cinnati award for outstanding achievement, but the Virginia Mili-
tary Institute education gave him no advantage in the regular
army, and after several frustrating years, he resigned to go into
9. Tampa Morning Tribune, February 26, 1956, p. 30.
10. Havard and Beth, p. 28.
22 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
business." He was in the National Guard for thirty-five years,
serving overseas in both world wars and receiving the state and
national distinguished service medals. He helped organize the
American Legion and was a former state commander.12
Lowry was exceedingly successful as a businessman. He was
chairman of the board of the Gulf Life Insurance Company. He later
sold a major part of his Gulf Life holdings to the Murchison in-
terests of Texas, but he remained on the board. Lowry had also
served as chairman of the board of both Bushnell Steel Company
of Jacksonville and Cuban American Metals Distributors, Inc., of
Lowry first entered the Florida political arena in the late 1940s,
when he attacked the United Nations and the World Federalist
Movement. The local World Federalists called for his resignation
as commanding general of the Fifty-first National Guard Divi-
sion. He refused to resign, and renewed his attacks on the United
Nations. He joined the Republicans in 1952, and became regional
director in Eisenhower's Florida campaign.14 A month before an-
nouncing his candidacy, Lowry spoke before the Duval County
Democratic Executive Committee, where he vehemently de-
nounced integration as part of a Communist conspiracy to destroy
the moral fibre of the nation by creating a "mongrel" race inca-
pable of preventing a Red take-over.15
Lowry was widowed and remarried. He had two married chil-
dren from his first marriage and a daughter from his second. In
1956, he was sixty-two years old, bald, wore glasses, had a rather
forbidding expression, and lacked the appeal and charm of his
rivals. He appeared to have an "overwhelmingly military attitude
toward everything."'6 Though sometimes criticized as a fanatic and
an extremist, he seemed to have his emotions well under control.
C. Farris Bryant (he dropped the C. for his next campaign) of
Ocala was generally conceded to be one of the ablest legislators
in Florida. He was a graduate of the University of Florida and
11. Interview with Vaughn Camp, Jr., Lowry's nephew and aide during
the campaign, February 24, 1964.
12. Paul Wilder, "Gen. Sumter Lowry: Prophet of the Red Peril," Tampa
Morning Tribune, February 19, 1961, sec. E, p. 1.
13. Florida Times Union, March 23, 1956, p. 20.
14. Wilder, "Gen. Sumter Lowry."
15. Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, pp. 85-86.
16. Interview with Vaughn Camp, Jr.
PROFILES AND PLATFORMS
of Harvard Law School. He was elected to the state legislature
from Marion County, and was still serving in 1956. He was selected
"most outstanding member of the House" by the St. Petersburg
Times poll in 1949, 1953, and 1955, and "most valuable legislator"
by the Allen Morris poll in 1953,17 when he was speaker. In 1952,
Bryant had been chairman of the Florida delegation to the Dem-
ocratic National Convention, championing Senator Richard Rus-
sell of Georgia. Generally, Bryant and Collins had supported many
of the same governmental reforms and in 1955, Bryant had backed
most of Collins' program. However, they split sharply over the
reapportionment issue.1s It had been assumed for three years
that Bryant was grooming himself for the governorship.19
In 1956 Bryant was forty-one years old, married, and the father
of three daughters. Though bald, his appearance was attractive,
his manner convincing, and his speaking ability considerable.
Harvard had done little to modify his heavy southern accent, an
asset in Florida politics. Bryant has been criticized for lacking
warmth. His manner was more dignified than that of either Col-
lins or Warren. He was neither as colorful a personality as War-
ren nor as handsome and appealing as Collins.
Two minor candidates also paid the $1,000 qualifying fees.
Peasley Streets, a Lake Park (Palm Beach County) constable,
was a former Warren administration employee, having been a
Motor Vehicle Department inspector and a member of the state
Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. He was an unsuccessful
candidate for the state Railroad and Public Utilities Commission
in 1952.20 Streets declared himself in favor of integration be-
cause it was the law of the land. It was alleged that Streets en-
tered the race to aid Warren by drawing off black votes from
Collins.21 He neither campaigned actively nor received any sig-
nificant support. The other minor candidate, W. B. (Bill) Price,
a fifty-six-year-old Jacksonville used-car dealer, apparently paid
the filing fee to seek vindication at the polls for his allegedly
wrongful commitment to the state mental hospital. He had pre-
viously filed suits against two Florida legislators for refusing to
17. Morris, The Florida Handbook, 1959 ed., p. 141.
18. Miami News, March 12, 1956, sec. A, p. 2, final ed.
19. Miami Herald, May 6, 1956, sec. G, p. 1.
20. Ibid., February 23, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
21. Price, p. 100.
24 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
introduce bills to have the state pay him for his improper
confinement at Chattahoochee.22
Collins declared that constitutional revision and clean, honest,
economical, and efficient government were Florida's greatest
needs. He favored periodic, automatic reapportionment based
upon population changes, with withdrawal of this power from the
legislature should it fail to reapportion. He favored a Department
of Finance, consolidation of the major state tax-collecting func-
tions into a division of revenue, and centralization of state pur-
chasing into a division of purchasing.23 He favored an elective
successor to the governor, prohibition of secret meetings of the
Senate, home rule, reorganization of the courts, a state depart-
ment of labor, better educational facilities, improved labor,
health, and welfare standards, and conservation of natural re-
sources. Unlike his opponents, he made no mention of the race
problem at the beginning of the campaign.24
Collins ran on his record as governor, placing greatest em-
phasis upon his record of attracting industry to Florida, and of
creating a favorable national image of Florida as a stable, pro-
gressive, well-managed state receptive to business needs. He
stressed his role in obtaining better schools, welfare benefits,
and roads, and cited his administration record of integrity, better
law enforcement, and economy.
Warren ran on a forty-seven-point "platform" and on the
record of his administration. He stressed his opposition as gov-
ernor to illegal gambling and to the sales tax.25 He cited support
that he gave for the first Florida turnpike, livestock fencing,
taste-test citrus code, flood control and reforestation, school im-
provement, and welfare appropriations. He also credited his ad-
ministration with bringing industry into the state. Warren pro-
posed increasing the $5,000 homestead exemption to $10,000.
He endorsed the Sixty-Seven Senator Amendment which was to
be voted upon statewide in November. Warren also advocated
more roads, bridges, a "factory for every county, stricter law en-
forcement, a Supreme Court judge from Dade County when the
22. Miami Herald, May 6, 1956, sec. G, p. 5.
23. Florida League of Women Voters, 1956 Gubernatorial Questionnaire.
24. Meet LeRoy Collins, undated campaign brochure.
25. League of Women Voters Questionnaire.
PROFILES AND PLATFORMS X0
next vacancy occurs, and constitutional revision." He placed
great emphasis upon his residence in Dade County, upon the
fact that if he were elected he would be the first governor from
Dade, and upon support of the home rule amendment for Dade
County. However, his first plank was a pledge to "do everything
in my power to maintain segregation."26
Bryant placed constitutional revision and economy as the
state's prime needs. Regarding segregation, he proposed joining
with other southern governors to work out a program to maintain
it without force or violence.27 He stressed his support of economy
measures, improved schools, flood control, and the full Florida
turnpike, and his opposition to quickie divorces, the sales tax,
and legalized gambling.28 Bryant also advocated a lieutenant gov-
ernor and the Sixty-Seven Senator Plan. Attacking Collins' fail-
ure to implement his 1954 platform, Bryant promised better
leadership which would result in cooperation from the legisla-
ture.29 He cited the need for tolerance and understanding be-
tween the large and small counties and the various sections of
the state, in order to end sectionalism.80
Lowry began his campaign on a single plank, a "one-hundred
per cent segregation platform," based primarily on the use of inter-
position. When questioned regarding other issues, he insisted
that segregation was "the greatest issue before the people in the
last 100 years."31 Some of his replies on other issues were:
Question: What sort of reapportionment plan do you advo-
Answer: That's a matter for the legislature to decide. The
governor has no power in that.
Question: Are you in favor of the sixty-seven senator con-
Answer: I have no position on that. The people will vote
on it and I'll carry out my duties.
26. John McDermott, "Sixty-Seven Man Senate Blasted," Miami Herald,
February 22, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
27. Miami Herald, March 3, 1956, sec. A, p. 5.
28. League of Women Voters Questionnaire.
29. Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 11. 1956, n. 16.
30. Tampa Morning Tribune, February 11, 1956, p. 14.
31. Bob Delaney, "'Interposition Will Stop It,' Says Lowry of Integration,"
Miami News, March 27, 1956, sec. B, p. 11.
26 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Question: Do you think Florida's constitution needs revising
and if so, in what way or ways?
Answer: When I get to be governor, I'll go into that
Question: Are you in favor of having a lieutenant governor
Answer: I'll think about it.
Question: Do you think there should be consolidation of the
tax collection agencies in the state?
Answer: I'd rather give that very careful thought before
Question: What is your position on homestead exemption?
Answer: I have none.
Question: If state revenue should prove insufficient to meet
demands in the next few years, what would you
recommend, as governor, to solve the problem?
Answer: I'll make a study of it at that time.
Lowry presented a three-point program to deal with segrega-
tion: cooperation with the other southern states to combat fed-
eral interference, official leadership by the governor as the
state's spokesman, and the resolution of interposition previously
32. Florida Times Union, February 29, 1956, p. 21.
4. The Issue of Segregation
S UMTER LOWRY set the tone of the gubernatorial campaign
on February 1 when he formally announced his candidacy: he
charged that Collins had been evasive, Warren silent, and Bryant
accepting of integration. He promised that he would provide posi-
tive leadership rather than defeatism and "pussy-footing."' Each of
his opponents, Lowry declared, "has openly or secretly advanced
the cause of integration forces and the NAACP."2 He accused Col-
lins of failing to understand both the threat to the state's customs
and his obligation to fight this threat. Collins was willing to "let
nature take its course-lull our people to sleep-make integration
gradual but final and bring about the ruin of our great state."3
The other three hastened to respond, although Warren and Col-
lins had not yet announced their candidacies. Bryant replied, "I
don't believe demagoguery and passion on the one hand are going
to solve the problem, nor do I believe that wearing the blinders
on the other hand is going to solve it."4 He went on to say, "The
problem calls for cool heads, clear minds, and a keen concern for
the welfare of all Floridians, black and white."
Collins felt himself obliged to issue a statement through his ad-
ministrative assistant, Joe Grotegut, saying, "Our leadership has
been far more effective than has been the case in many other states
in which a great deal more noise and confusion has been gen-
erated."5 He declared his opposition to "defiance of constituted
authority" and to "any effort to make political capital out of seg-
regation." Addressing a group of Tampa businessmen the follow-
ing week, Collins assured them that segregation could be kept
1. Miami Herald, February 2, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
2. Ibid., February 29, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
3. Miami News, February 8, 1956, sec. B, p. 5.
4. Ibid., February 2, 1956, sec. B, p. 5.
5. Miami Herald, February 3, 1956, sec. C, p. 1.
28 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
"without furor," saying, "Believe me when I say Florida cannot
afford an orgy of race conflict and discord."6
Warren declared, "I am opposed to mixing of the races and I
think Florida public officials should do everything in their power
to prevent it."7 Warren had received a large majority of black votes
in 1948 and was generally considered a moderate on the racial
question. He did not conspicuously voice objection to introduc-
tion of the race issue into the campaign, although speaking of it
much later, he said that it had no proper place in the governor's
race but that "He [Lowry] thrust it in." Warren's opinion was that
it was not properly a state issue but a federal one.8
While Collins, Warren, and Bryant either publicly or privately
deplored injection of the segregation issue, Lowry mounted the
offensive and kept it thereafter, attacking the candidates, the Su-
preme Court, the NAACP, and the Communist conspiracy.
Lowry rejected Collins' contention that Florida's economy would
suffer from an all-out fight against integration. On the contrary,
the tourist industry would be injured if people found themselves
obliged to send their children to mixed schools, playgrounds, or
swimming pools. Lowry said of Collins, "He would sell out the
children of the state for the dollar bill."9
The atmosphere in Florida began to resemble the Deep South
more and more. Bill Baggs, the Miami News columnist, wrote
about a new game in Florida politics played by competing candi-
dates which promised to become more popular than gin rummy:
"The name of the game is 'I Love Segregation More Than You
Do,' the man with the loudest voice and the most indignant
expression wins."10 In the heat of the campaign a series of in-
cidents involving race relations that might otherwise have passed
unnoticed was seized upon for campaign purposes by the candi-
dates. This had the effect of increasing racial tensions. In con-
sequence there were signs that Florida might go the way of
other Deep South states in this respect.
The first of these incidents occurred in Lake County as the
aftermath of the sensational Groveland rape case of 1949. Four
6. Ibid., February 8, 1956, sec. C, p. 6.
7. Ibid., February 6, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
8. Interview with Fuller Warren, March 3, 1964.
9. Miami News, February 8, 1956, sec. B, p. 8.
10. "Brailey Odham and Segregation," Miami News, March 19, 1956, sec.
A, p. 19.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION 29
blacks had been convicted of raping a seventeen-year-old white
housewife. The case had dragged on in the courts for years. In
1952, Sheriff McCall shot two of the defendants in "self-defense,"
killing one of them and wounding Walter Lee Irvin, who said at
the time that McCall had committed deliberate murder. Late in
1955, Governor Collins and the Pardon Board unanimously
commuted Irvin's death sentence to life imprisonment, despite
the Parole Commission's recommendation that the death sentence
be carried out. The action at the time was virtually unnoticed and
Two months later, after segregation had become an issue in
the gubernatorial campaign, Lake County Circuit Court Judge
Truman G. Futch ordered a grand jury investigation of the action
of Collins and the Pardon Board. Futch based his order on re-
ceipt of three petitions signed by 121 citizens, mostly rural residents
of Lake and Marion counties.12 The grand jury invited Governor
Collins and the Pardon Board to testify before it. The ques-
tioning of a governor's commutation of a death sentence was with-
out precedent in Florida history. The Tampa Tribune speculated
on such an extraordinary step by a judge well versed in the prin-
ciple that the executive is not accountable to an investigating body
for decisions within his discretionary authority. The timing of the
long-delayed protest, the announcement that Sheriff McCall, politi-
cal foe of Collins, was again a candidate running on a racist plat-
form, and the contest in Lake County between Senator Ed Baker,
a Pork Chopper, and a Collins supporter, Representative J. A.
Boyd, were circumstances which the Tribune editorial writers
considered more than coincidental. Collins thought so too, saying
that there was "an implication of politics," but refusing to accuse
anyone.13 Collins justified his action in the Irvin case on the ground
that many things were left undone and that the state didn't "walk
that extra mile did not establish the guilt of Walter Lee
Irvin in an absolute and conclusive manner."14 Collins declared
that there was nothing to investigate "except LeRoy Collins' judg-
ment and conscience-both beyond control or coercion of a grand
jury. They are subject to review by God and the people of Flor-
11. Tampa Morning Tribune, editorial, February 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 16.
12. Jean Sneed, "Judge Calls Grand Jury Inquiry into Collins Part in
Sparing Lake Rapist," Tampa Morning Tribune, February 17, 1956, p. 18.
13. Tampa Sunday Tribune, editorial, February 18, 1956, p. 4.
14. Miami News, February 16, 1956, sec. A, p. 10.
30 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
ida."15 Collins did, however, offer to discuss the matter before
newsmen with Judge Futch, the Lake County prosecutor, and
the grand jury foreman at Tallahassee.
The temptation for segregationists to capitalize on this situation
was too great. When Collins was about to ride in a parade at
Eustis the following week, the rape victim confronted him with
accusations. She was escorted by Sheriff McCall's deputies.
Twenty-four hours earlier, the word had been out in Lake County
that Collins' political enemies were planning such a confrontation
in order to embarrass him. The rumor predicted that it would
happen at a civic club dinner in Tavares, but the actual incident
occurred the next morning at Eustis."1
The Irvin "issue" stayed alive. Judge Futch accused Collins of
being "an innocent victim of the Communists by helping to save
a Negro in the Groveland rape case from the electric chair.""1 The
grand jury finally declared that Collins and the Pardon Board
were legally justified in commuting the sentence, finding that both
defense and prosecution were negligent in presenting the evi-
dence. However, the grand jury charged that "false" statements
and "lurid" newspaper stories influenced the commutation, specifi-
cally censuring Tom Harris, editor of the St. Petersburg Times,
for a series of articles and the Reverend B. F. Wyland for circulat-
ing petitions for clemency."s
Collins was not permitted to forget the Groveland case during
the campaign. Lowry criticized him in speeches, advertisements,
and a pamphlet which he distributed. Later in the campaign,
Peasley Streets, the otherwise inactive candidate, filmed an inter-
view with the Groveland victim which was shown on television in
Miami. The station immediately apologized for the showing, claim-
ing that it didn't know the contents of the film. The other television
channels in the state refused the film because it violated the stand-
ards of good taste and was unfit for showing in homes. Streets
claimed, in a complaint to the Federal Communications Commis-
sion, that there was a conspiracy between Collins and the stations.19
Fuller Warren also came to the defense of white womanhood. In an
advertisement in the Broward edition of the Miami Herald, Warren
15. Ibid., February 17, 1956, sec. B, p. 9.
16. Tampa Morning Tribune, editorial, February 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 16.
17. Miami Herald, March 30, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
18. Florida Times Union, May 5, 1956, p. 22.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION 31
asked, "Will LeRoy Collins ever explain to the citizens of Florida
his shame and why he excused this Negro to the shame of every
decent white woman of our state?"20
The second of these episodes involved the appointment by Col-
lins of a black, Henry H. Arrington, as assistant State Attorney in
Miami. The Arrington case was used in much the same way as the
Groveland affair by the anti-Collins forces.
The black leadership in Miami had supported Collins in 1954
after the latter had promised to appoint some blacks to public
office.21 Collins made a few such appointments during his two-
year term. Henry Arrington had been a trial attorney for the United
States Department of Justice for four years before returning to
Miami. Governor Collins appointed him, presumably upon rec-
ommendation of the black leadership to State Attorney George
Brautigam, for Arrington stated that he never knew Collins or
worked for him, and that he was acquainted with Brautigam
Little notice was taken of the appointment before the guberna-
torial campaign. However, on February 25, Arrington was invited
to participate on a radio panel called "The People Speak." He was
questioned regarding his work by the panel participants and by
listeners who telephoned in questions. The program was tape-
recorded by Ira David Hawthorne, organizer and president of the
Dade County Property Owners Association, an ardent racist who
had been questioned in the past by the federal grand jury which
investigated bombings of black housing in Miami's Edison Cen-
ter. In the recording, Arrington supposedly said that his work was
not necessarily limited to cases involving blacks. Replying to ques-
tions regarding secretarial service, he quoted Brautigam as saying
that secretaries who refused to take Arrington's dictation could
"pick up their checks." The recording was immediately publi-
cized. Arrington, who was in Washington at the time, was sus-
pended by Collins pending investigation. State Attorney Brauti-
gam denied flatly that his office was integrated, and he charged
Arrington with "breach of confidence and misconduct" because
20. Advertisement by Fuller Warren, Miami Herald, Broward ed., April
29, 1956, p. 2.
21. Interview with Father Theodore Gibson, local NAACP president,
March 17, 1964.
22. Interview with Henry H. Arrington, March 24, 1964.
32 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
his statements had stirred up the segregation issue.23 Arrington re-
turned, and claimed that the remarks were taken out of context.
However, he made no attempt to defend his broadcast and, when
Governor Collins dismissed him soon after, made no effort to
Six tapes of the broadcast were circulated throughout Florida,
according to Hawthorne, who denied knowledge of how Lowry
secured the tapes. He also denied supporting Lowry for gover-
nor.25 However, Lowry used the tapes to good advantage, and
lost no opportunity to comment on the affair in his speeches. In
a broadcast in Miami, he spoke of Arrington as "the Washington
lawyer sent to Florida in November 1954 to become a shining
symbol of how integration is progressing in this state."26 He went
on to say that "Arrington chortles to the Communist-inspired
NAACP that 'I have a white secretary and the office is fully in-
tegrated' despite the fact Collins claims there is no integration
in Florida." Lowry asserted that discussion of Arrington's secre-
tarial service or specific assignments was irrelevant. The placing
of a black in an important executive position by Collins resulted
in integration and provided a precedent for similar appointments.27
As the tempo of the campaign progressed, Warren also charged
Collins with starting integration by appointing Arrington.28 Col-
lins' prompt action in dismissing Arrington largely eliminated
the incident from constant newspaper coverage. The tapes and
speeches used by Lowry kept the episode alive, but its effective-
ness as a campaign issue had been somewhat limited. Apparently
neither Arrington nor the Miami black community blamed Collins
for the dismissal, as their subsequent voting demonstrated. Ar-
rington, speaking of it much later, expressed the belief that
Collins had no alternative and that "it was a wise move for him
to make at the time."29
The third of these incidents occurred shortly before the pri-
mary. As it was fresh in people's minds, it could be most effec-
tively used by the segregationist forces. The African Methodist
23. Miami Herald, March 17, 1956, sec. C, p. 1.
24. Ibid., March 22, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
25. Miami News, March 18, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
26. Ibid., March 16, 1956, sec. A, p. 15.
27. Florida Times Union, March 20, 1956, p. 20.
28. Miami Herald, April 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 11.
29. Interview with Arrington.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION 36
Episcopal Quadrennial Convention was held at Dinner Key Audi-
torium in Miami, May 2-15. Thirty Miami Beach hotels had
agreed to admit several thousand delegates and their families to
the exclusion of their other guests.30 This was the first time that
large numbers of blacks were housed on Miami Beach, although
some hotels had previously received delegates to predominantly
For Collins, who claimed that Florida was segregated, the
timing of the convention was most unfortunate. Lowry called it
a "black day for the state of Florida" when blacks were being
served by white waitresses at the hotels."3 He made a telecast
from Jacksonville on May 3 in which he showed films of dele-
gates to the African Methodist Episcopal Convention eating in
restaurants while white people were being served. He declared
that such integration would be a great economic catastrophe for
Florida.82 Lowry charged in another speech that Collins could
easily have ordered the sheriff to stop the race mixing, which
was illegal, but that Collins refused to act because "he has sold
out for the Negro block vote."33 He claimed that the convention
had so alarmed people in Dade County that he was making
"terrific strides." He said that a door-to-door campaign for Lowry
was fast gaining momentum.34 Collins declared himself "shocked
personally by that situation at Miami Beach." He said that he had
not been consulted and, as governor, had no legal recourse to
prevent it, for the Attorney-General's office had advised him that
there was no law prohibiting a hotel or restaurant from serving
guests whom it considers desirable. He suggested that neigh-
boring property owners could get an injunction by claiming that
a nuisance was created.35
The continuing problem of the Supreme Court order to admit
Virgil Hawkins to the University of Florida Law School kept
pace with those other incidents. All candidates agreed that
this should be prevented; the disagreement was on methods of
30. Miami Herald, April 25, 1956, sec. D, p. 1.
31. Florida Times Union, May 3, 1956, p. 26.
32. Ibid., May 5, 1956, p. 18.
33. Ibid., May 3, 1956, p. 26.
34. Miami Herald, May 3, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
35. John McDermott, "Candidates Doff Gloves for Final," Miami Herald,
May 5, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
34 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Governor Collins called a conference of cabinet officers, legis-
lative leaders, the Board of Control, the presidents of the state
universities, and others concerned with education. After con-
siderable advance publicity, they met in Tallahassee on March 21
to plan a fight against integration of the schools. Collins invited
anyone with a plan to present it in writing to the conference.
None of the candidates availed himself of the offer.36 At the
conference, Collins noted what he called "a dangerous deteriora-
tion in our racial relations," warning that the state could lose all
the progress it had made in race relations unless reason pre-
vailed. He proposed that President Eisenhower and Attorney-
General Brownell call a conference of all the southern governors
and attorney-generals to discuss the segregation problems of the
South. The conference endorsed this suggestion and adopted four
others: (1) that the conference formulate a resolution requesting
the Supreme Court to reconsider the Hawkins case; (2) that if
the hearing is granted, Collins accompany Ervin to plead the
case for Florida; (3) that the Board of Education review the regu-
lations set by the Board of Control regarding admission to the
state universities; (4) that Collins and Ervin appoint a committee
of legal experts to consider all proposals for retaining segrega-
tion and to present recommendations to the conference.37 Collins
declared that if the committee could propose legislation con-
sidered sound by legal authorities, he would then call a special
session of the legislature. All participants at the conference
pledged themselves to use every legal means to avoid integra-
tion in the schools. House Speaker Ted David declared at the
close of the conference, "I think what we've done here today
will definitely put us in the black."38
Collins, in his message to the President, stressed the sound and
reasonable approach to the race problem taken by Florida, but
he reminded Eisenhower that Florida was dedicated to main-
taining the "tradition and customs of segregation, which are as
deeply rooted in this state as in any other southern state."39 He
36. John Boyles, "Candidates Ignore Collins' Offer," Miami Herald, March
25, 1956, sec. G, p. 2.
37. "Statement by Governor LeRoy Collins to Conference on Segregation,
March 21, 1956," Misc. 1956, Collins Papers at University of South Florida
Library, Tampa. See also Miami Herald, March 22, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
38. Boyles, "Candidates Ignore."
39. Miami Herald, March 23, 1956, sec. C, p. 1.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION
warned that as a result of extremists on both sides, "we are ex-
periencing a serious deterioration of racial relations." By offering
to appear personally before the Supreme Court and by placing
the segregation burden upon Eisenhower, Collins seized the ini-
tiative for a little while. As governor, he was in a position to act
while his opponents could only make promises.
Lowry headquarters called the conference the "meeting of the
integrationists."40 Lowry promptly declared the conference to
be a "whitewash." He said that Collins' request that Eisenhower
call a conference of southern governors "is like hiring an attorney
on the other side to plead your case. He may plead it but he
won't win it."41
Bryant, at this point, felt called upon to offer more to the seg-
regationists. Several days before Collins' conference met, he an-
nounced an eight-point program to combat integration. He pro-
posed that a special session of the legislature be called to
implement the results of the conference, that the legislature
adopt an interposition resolution as a "protest," that appeals to
the United States Supreme Court be left to the attorney-general,
that the governor meet with his counterparts in the other south-
ern states to create a united front, and that equal as well as
separate school facilities be established rapidly.42
Fuller Warren took a more direct approach to the Hawkins case.
He charged that Virgil Hawkins should be prohibited from en-
tering the law school because he had brutally beaten two school
children while he was a teacher in Lake County years ago. As
proof, Warren released affidavits signed by four persons, includ-
ing the principal of the school where the beatings were alleged
to have occurred.43 Hawkins denied the charge, and a number
of Lake County school officials failed to recall such an incident.
The Board of Control promised to investigate the charges.44 Ap-
parently they could not be substantiated, but the incident
gave Warren considerable publicity as an active opponent of
Lowry continued to hammer away on the efficacy of interposi-
40. Florida Times Union, March 17, 1956, p. 18.
41. Miami Herald, March 24, 1956, sec. B, p. 5.
42. Ibid., March 19, 1956, sec. C, p. 8.
43. Ibid., March 30, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
44. Ibid., March 17, 1956, sec. C, p. 1.
36 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
tion. "Interposition will stop it cold," he said.45 Interposition had
never failed, according to Lowry. Collins responded that inter-
position was only a protest, and that the state had already protested
the Supreme Court decree in a resolution adopted in 1955. He
cited the experience of Virginia, which had adopted an inter-
position resolution and, despite this, had about 100 blacks in its
state university while Florida had none.46 Warren agreed with
Collins that interposition was only a gesture. In his own fashion,
he said, "some adult should tell the 'worthy warrior from Tampa'
that interposition is just a high-sounding word which has no legal
force since the North won the Civil War near [sic] ninety-one
years ago." Talking of "this multimillionaire demagogue," Warren
said he "ought to know that interposition cannot possibly suc-
ceed unless Florida seceded from the Union and won the result-
ing war against the United States."47
It must have been obvious both to Warren and Lowry that if
Lowry picked up support on the segregation issue, it would have
to come from those same rural areas that had previously backed
Warren. Lowry attacked Warren for having entertained blacks
at luncheon at the governor's mansion during his first term. War-
ren explained that a mixed group had visited his office in 1952
to protest the murder of a black at Mims. Having heard that they
intended to demand service at a white restaurant and trying to
avoid an incident, "I invited the delegation of White and Colored
citizens, about fifteen in number, to go out to the mansion and
eat some sandwiches."48 "They entered the mansion through a
side door, ate some sandwiches and left in about half an hour,"
he said.49 Lowry had previously attacked Warren for an item
veto of an appropriations bill which would have cut off funds
from schools permitting integration. Lowry said, "Fuller Warren is
the first governor of Florida to betray his oath of office and at-
tempt to end segregation in our public schools and colleges. I
can only warn the people of Florida to beware of this Judas kiss
from the former governor."50 The vetoed clause actually had no
connection with the public schools, for it dealt with state col-
45. Delaney, "Interposition Will Stop It."
46. Miami Herald, April 7, 1956, sec. A, p. 4.
47. Florida Times Union, February 29, 1956, p. 21.
48. Miami News, March 19, 1956, sec. A, p. 17.
49. Florida Times Union, March 19, 1956, p. 20.
50. Miami News, February 22, 1936, sec. A, p. 7.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION
leges and universities. Warren had explained in his veto message
that Florida's image in the nation would suffer, that the provision
would violate teaching contracts and research agreements, and
that he doubted its constitutionality.51
As Lowry continued the attack on him, and as he saw some
support dwindling away, Warren shifted from his moderate posi-
tion in a desperate effort to maintain his "Cracker" support. He
made two proposals designed to save the state from integration.52
The most important of these was a joint southern attempt to have
the Fourteenth Amendment changed to permit each state to de-
cide whether it wished to integrate. Second, Warren declared
that he wouldn't wait for inauguration to attack the segregation
problem. He would create a committee to help him immediately
after the primary. Furthermore, Warren proposed to offer Lowry
a position on this committee, conveniently forgetting that he
had described Lowry as "the synthetic general," a "Johnny-come-
lately who entered this segregation battle the latest with the
Lowry distributed a pamphlet accusing the other candidates
of supporting integration. Collins' appointment of Arrington and
his commutation of Irvin's death sentence were mentioned. Collins'
membership in the United World Federalists was attacked and
he was accused of having "caught the Moscow train shortly after
World War II." Lowry's organization printed a picture of Collins
shaking hands with a black. Collins explained that the picture was
taken in Orlando at the meeting of the Florida Negro Teachers'
Association, where he shook hands with the association officers
when they welcomed him. "I cannot imagine any governor doing
otherwise. Our Negro teachers have done and are doing a fine
job for the state and I respect them for it."54 Collins described
the Lowry material as "filthy and scurrilous," declaring, "a man
of character and integrity would not stoop so low."55
Lowry attacked Bryant for accepting integration. He said the
Tampa Daily Times of January 21, 1956, had printed excerpts of
a Bryant speech made to the Tampa Kiwanis Club on August 4,
51. Ibid., June 11, 1951, sec. B, p. 1.
52. Stephen Trumbull, "Is Collins Taking Off His Gloves?" Miami Herald,
April 13, 1956, sec. B, p. 5.
53. Miami News, March 13, 1956, sec. A, p. 17.
54. Both quotes in Florida Times Union, April 25, 1956, p. 21.
55. Miami Herald, April 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 4.
38 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
1954, in which Bryant is alleged to have said of the Supreme
Court decision, "the South has swallowed a lot of bitter pills in
the past and has kept its head high. We've got to swallow it,
we've got to be men enough, Christian enough, and Democrats
enough to make the best of it."56 Bryant. said that his notes for
the speech contained no such reference and that he never had
the sentiments quoted.57
Lowry announced a program which would, in his words, "put
the NAACP out of business." He would refuse to deal with them
as governor and would order all state agencies to follow his ex-
ample. He opposed the NAACP "for dragging Negroes to the polls
to register," predicting that most of the Negro vote would be for
Collins."5 He promised that when he became governor, the Com-
munists and the NAACP would never dominate or infiltrate the
public schools, but he also said that he would provide equality of
opportunity for all, regardless of race.59 He declared that school
integration meant only one thing-intermarriage.60 In a speech
at Lake City, Lowry announced another means of preventing
integration. He explained that since the governor's signature is
required by the Constitution on every check dispersing state
money, "By refusing to sign checks to support mixed schools, I
can guarantee that our schools will remain separate."61
By late March it had become apparent to experienced ob-
servers that Lowry had gained heavy support, especially in North
Florida, at Warren's expense.62 In the small counties enthusiastic
listeners cheered his denunciations of integration. He talked of
nothing except the segregation problem, but his listeners seemed
equally absorbed in it. One reporter traveling with him said that
only once during a whole day of whistle-stopping was Lowry
queried on another subject. Lowry told of an incident in North
Florida which clearly illustrated the interests of his Cracker audi-
ence. He said that he introduced himself to one potential voter as
56. Florida Times Union, May 3, 1956, p. 9.
57. Letter from Governor Farris Bryant to author, April 29, 1964.
58. Larry Birger, "Lowry Discounts Fuller as a Threat," Miami News,
April 11, 1956, sec. A, p. 9.
59. Florida Times Union, April 19, 1956, p. 26.
60. Miami News, March 27, 1956, sec. B, p. 11.
61. Miami Herald, April 15, 1956, street ed., sec. B, p. 2.
62. John McDermott, "Estes Marks Gains While Fuller Falls," Miami
Herald, April 8, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
THE ISSUE OF SEGREGATION 39
the candidate strongest for segregation. The man's reply was,
"Yeah, that's okay, but what you going to do about those
niggers?" Even Warren's supporters acknowledged the success of
Lowry's appeal in the rural Panhandle. W. Turner Davis of Madi-
son, president of the Senate and a Warren backer, predicted that
Lowry would take the county. Senator S. D. Clarke, another War-
ren supporter, when questioned at Monticello, said, "if Fuller loses
out, I'm for Sumter in the run-off."63
Collins recognized Lowry's growing strength. He warned voters
that Lowry's approach would lead to violence. He promised, "we
will have segregation in this state by lawful and peaceful means,
and we will not have our state-our Florida which has such a
bright future-torn asunder by rioting and disorder and violence
and the sort of thing this man is seeking to incite."64 Lowry in most
of his speeches recommended maintaining segregation without
violence. Nevertheless, he warned, "You'll have violence if
integration is attempted."65 Jack Bell, Miami Herald columnist,
wrote that Lowry, on a local television program, openly suggested
that we "march on Washington and overthrow the Supreme Court,
if necessary, to prevent integration."66
Collins continued to present the image of a racial moderate de-
spite the Lowry attacks. He constantly proclaimed his allegiance
to southern institutions and he lost no occasion to point to his
record. Florida had remained segregated in its schools while
some Deep South states had been forced to give way. However,
it was in his presentation of the other issues that Collins sought
to minimize the segregation factor as a threat to his re-election.
Warren's charge that Lowry had previously taken no part in
the civil rights battle is particularly interesting when viewed in
the light of Lowry's political preoccupations before 1956 and
in subsequent years. Lowry before 1956 had led an American Le-
gion attack on the United Nations, UNESCO, and the World
Federalists. During the campaign, he continually referred to left-
wing elements who were exploiting segregation "only as a sledge-
hammer to attack the Constitution." He declared that his cam-
63. Jim Hardee, "Lowry Steals Warren Votes in Crackerland," Orlando
Sentinel, March 28, 1956, n.p.
64. Miami Herald, April 28, 1956, street ed., sec. B, p. 1.
65. Florida Times Union, April 6, 1956, p. 20.
66. Jack Bell, "Election Results Give Us Reason to Cheer," Miami Herald,
May 13, 1956, sec. G, p. 4.
40 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
paign was "a crusade to preserve the rights of the little children
of Florida. I carry the flag for them."67 As mentioned, he at-
tacked Collins for his championship of internationalism as a state
Although Lowry was named "Florida's Number 1 spokesman
against integration" after the primary, his major interest appeared
to be fighting communism, the United Nations, and federal
encroachment on the Tenth Amendment. Eight policemen were
required to remove him from a state Parents and Teachers Associa-
tion council convention, where he denounced PTA interest in
supporting the United Nations.68 He proposed establishment of
a new school to fight communism and teach patriotism at the Uni-
versity of Florida, offering to pay $12,000 himself for the first
year's salary of a "proper" man to head the school.69 He estab-
lished his own organization, the Florida Coalition of Patriotic
Societies, which distributed right-wing literature.70
In a letter of March 6, 1964, Lowry wrote, "To begin with, I
entered the Democratic primary in 1956 for only one purpose-
to alert the people of Florida to the fact that the 1954 Supreme
Court decision on desegregation was the opening wedge of an
effort to destroy the right of the people guaranteed by the 10th
Amendment to govern and conduct their local affairs."71 Is it pos-
sible that Lowry's interest in maintaining segregation was centered
primarily on his dislike of federal encroachment, rather than his
fear of integration?
67. Florida Times Union, March 23, 1956, p. 18.
68. Wilder, "General Sumter Lowry."
69. Louise Blanchard, "School for Patriots Proposed by Lowry," Miami
News, December 12, 1958, sec. A, p. 6.
70. Wilder, "General Sumter Lowry."
71. Letter from General Sumter Lowry to author, March 6, 1964.
5. Economic Development and Other Issues
W HILE Sumter Lowry was busy convincing Floridians that
he was the best man to fight integration, LeRoy Collins was sell-
ing himself as the best man for attracting industry to Florida and
for maintaining the stable, progressive climate in which the econ-
omy would continue to grow. He was helped considerably by the
continued prosperity and the bright prospects in the near future.
But he was helped even more by a series of developments which,
if coincidental, were hardly less than miraculous. If planned,
then Collins achieved a public relations coup of gigantic dimen-
sions. The first of these was the epidemic of feature articles on
Florida in the national magazines. The second was the announce-
ment, in the heat of the campaign, by multimillionaire industrial-
ist Howard Hughes that he was bringing a huge aircraft industry
to Florida as well as a $100 million medical center to Dade
The articles on Florida began in 1955 and continued through-
out the campaign. By February, feature stories had appeared in
Fortune, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Kiplinger's Changing
Times, Holiday, Look, and U.S. News and World Report. All wrote
of Florida's sound, stable government, favorable tax structure,
and effective governor-Collins.1 Many of the articles featured
Collins on the cover. U.S. News and World Report ran a second
article on Florida in April, with six pages of pictures and informa-
tion on Florida's business, taxes, climate, and schools, including an
interview with Collins. Segregation was not mentioned once.2 The
1. John Bonner, "Is Publicity Too Much?" Miami Herald, February 22,
1956, sec. A, p. 21.
2. "Florida Gives Its Formula for Boom without a Bust," U.S. News and
World Report 42 (April 13, 1956): 78-84.
42 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Florida Development Commission, charged with promoting in-
dustry and tourism, declared on April 25 that Florida had re-
ceived $831,040 worth of free publicity in radio and television
time and in national publications in the first quarter of 1956.3
Collins' opponents suspected that the articles were planted.
Bryant commented that Collins' national publicity was "peculiar."4
Warren declared that Collins had secretly retained a "big time
New York advertising agency with Los Angeles connections" to
handle the publicity for his re-election. These, according to War-
ren, were hired through a Jacksonville advertising agency which
was working for the state and openly handling Collins' publicity.
The agency representatives revealed their hand, Warren asserted,
when they supervised the release of the Howard Hughes an-
nouncement. When questioned, Robert Rowley, Miami represent-
ative of the New York firm Carl Byoir and Associates, said that he
and William Utley of Los Angeles were Hughes' representatives,
and that they were totally unconnected with the Collins cam-
paign.5 If Collins planned the publicity to coincide with his
campaign, no one was able to prove it. Warren, when questioned
years later about it, said that he thought that the stories were
planted, but that he didn't know how or by whom.6
Warren accused Collins of taking credit for Florida's economic
development, which, he declared, was a result of vigorous efforts
made by the Warren administration. In a speech at Lakeland, he
said, "I haven't seen smoke or payroll from these factories you
have been hearing about." He labeled them "headline industries"
and went on to talk of his own goal of having a minimum of one
industry in every one of the sixty-seven counties.7
Late in February, Collins began his second annual midwestern
tour to lure industry to Florida, accompanied by thirty business
and industrial leaders from the state. He conferred with business-
men, spoke at businessmen's luncheons, and gave press confer-
ences. A reporter on tour with Collins wrote from Cleveland, "The
governor's sales talk virtually saturated this area by radio and
3. Florida Times Union, April 26, 1956, p. 24.
4. Ibid., April 19, 1956, p. 26.
5. John McDermott, "Warren Raps U.S. Publicity Given Florida," Miami
Herald, April 18, 1956, street ed., sec. B, p. 1.
6. Interview with Fuller Warren.
7. Florida Times Union, April 1, 1956, p. 22.
television."s Favorable business comment followed in the Florida
newspapers. George J. Leness, senior partner in Merrill, Lynch,
Pierce, Fenner, and Beane, said, "Tours like this awaken latent
interest and produce action." McGregor Smith of Florida Power
and Light said that the tours would put dollars in the taxpayers'
pockets.9 Collins' sincerity and warmth left an excellent impres-
sion upon midwestern businessmen, who were duly quoted by
Industrialist Cyrus S. Eaton announced completed plans for the
West Kentucky Coal Company, one of the largest in the world,
to locate a $1 million loading and transfer dock at Port Tampa,
along with an authorized purchase of $5 million in boats and
barges. He said that Collins' tour had convinced his company that
Florida had a bright industrial future, thus a need for coal.'0
One of the most convincing arguments to those looking to the
governor for strong industrial development was the announce-
ment by Howard Hughes. These industries, according to Collins,
would exceed Chemstrand (Florida's single largest industrial
plant) in size and importance." Del Webb, a Hughes associate,
read the statement from Collins' office. He announced that the
Dade County Commission had already been requested to set
aside sixty acres of land near Jackson Memorial Hospital for the
medical project, and that building space adjacent to the hospital
had already been leased. The site of the aircraft plant was not
disclosed, but Webb said that it would require thirty acres of space.
"Mr. Hughes doesn't do things in a small way," he declared. The
Hughes announcement credited Collins with persuading him to
locate in Florida, saying that the governor "is just about the best
salesman any state ever had."12
From time to time, reports were made on the progress of the
project. Announcement was made when architects were engaged
for the aircraft plant.13 Collins indicated that he was in telephone
contact with Hughes and that plans "are progressing nicely."14
8. Herbert Boyer, "Collins Mid-West Tour," Florida Times Union, Feb-
ruary 28, 1956, p. 18.
9. Allen Morris, "Governor's Tours Are Paying Off," Miami News, March 9,
1956, sec. A, p. 8, home ed.
10. Florida Times Union, March 17, 1956, p. 18.
11. Miami Herald, April 10, 1956, sec. A, pp. 1-2.
12. Ibid., sec. A, p. 1.
13. Ibid., April 25, 1956, sec. A, p. 15.
14. Florida Times Union, May 6, 1956, p. 16.
44 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Collins' three opponents naturally reacted unfavorably to the
announcement, each in his own characteristic way. Bryant called
it a "startling coincidence" that it came shortly before the primary,
commenting also that no location for the aircraft project was an-
nounced.15 Warren proclaimed it a "hoax," "designed to deceive
and mislead the people of Florida into voting to give the present
governor a second term"; Collins, when questioned regarding War-
ren's comment, said, "I don't want to damage the state by digni-
fying it."16 Questioned eight years later, Warren declared that
his recollections of the incident were somewhat vague, but that
he recalls no proof that the proposed project was a hoax. "It must
have been an instinctive reaction," Warren said regarding his
comment."7 Lowry's comment on the Hughes announcement was,
"I cannot understand our governor's excitement over some man
from out in California. This is the state, you know, where this
Supreme Court Justice Warren came from-the man who said we
have to put Negroes in white schools.""1
There was no indication at the time that little of the Hughes
projects would materialize. Actually, the medical research project
was established in an office at Miami Beach. By 1961, it had re-
ceived $24,900,000 from Hughes ($16,900,000 of which it returned
to the Hughes Tool Company), with which it supported research in
biochemistry, microbiology, and cardiovascular problems. Nothing
was ever done about the aircraft company.19 Collins' enemies still
believe that the proposed aircraft plant was a hoax designed to
get him votes. Newsmen for years amused themselves by asking
Collins if he had heard from Hughes. He invariably laughed
with some embarrassment and changed the subject.20 Political
writers John McDermott of the Miami Herald and Charles Hesser
of the Miami News believe that the Hughes aircraft project was
genuinely contemplated at the time.21 One explanation offered
is that Hughes ran into financial difficulties with stockholders of
his various companies.
From a practical standpoint, the Hughes announcement was
15. Trumbull, "Is Collins Taking Off His Gloves?"
16. Both quoted in Miami Herald, April 12, 1956, sec. A, p. 17.
17. Interview with Fuller Warren.
18. Miami Herald, April 18, 1956, street ed., sec. A, p. 1.
19. Ibid., November 19, 1962, sec. A, p. 4.
20. Telephone interview with Charles Hesser, March 4, 1964.
21. Telephone interview with John McDermott, March 3, 1964.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 40
the final proof Collins needed to demonstrate his effectiveness.
He placed ads quoting Hughes' statement about his salesmanship.
A Collins "victory tune" was written for his rallies:
He made the legislature legislate
He put roads in places that help the state
He went travlin' North, met the V.I.P.s
And he brought back millions in new industries
Invested 16 bucks where we never got one
He made folks like Florida's favorite son
Floridians, here's a governor we must choose
Or we'll lose that project with Howard Hughes.22
Along with the good salesman "pitch" went a corollary that
industry would not move into an atmosphere of racial tensions
and disorder where schools might be closed and the economy dis-
rupted. Sylvia Porter, syndicated financial columnist, wrote that
the Fantua Factory Locating Service, the largest plant locating
consultants in the world, said that at least twenty corporations
ready to move into the South were reconsidering because of the
racial agitation. These projects alone involved jobs in the tens of
thousands. She said that the racial problem had always been a
factor, but that it had previously been offset by southern climate,
lower wage levels, tax exemptions, and cheap power. Now these
inducements could not lure industry in the face of impending
disorder. Key employees were refusing to move into areas where
schools were in jeopardy. Companies considering some states like
North Carolina were frightened off by rising taxes in communities
which had the cost of maintaining "separate but equal" schools.23
Other articles appeared, quoting business leaders who said that
racial unrest would affect business adversely.24
Lowry had his own economic interpretation. The South, he
maintained, had lost millions in planned industry because of the
Supreme Court decision. Industrialists had been moving South to
avoid regimentation by Communists and other groups protected
22. John McDermott, "Gov. Collins Could Win in First Primary," Miami
Herald, April 1, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
23. Sylvia Porter, "Racial Tensions Scare Industry," Miami Herald, March
26, 1956, sec. A, p. 17.
24. Bert Collier, "Both Sides Use Boycott," Miami Herald, April 8, 1956,
sec. A, p. 27.
46 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
by state civil rights codes. Now that the Court proposed to inter-
fere in the South, the motive for moving industry was gone.25
While Warren and Bryant had presented business planks from
the beginning, only insisting that they would provide better
leadership in that regard than Collins, Lowry appears to have
had second thoughts about his one-plank platform. He belatedly
broadened his platform, promising to build more and better roads,
to provide more modem school facilities, and to lure tourists and
industry into Florida. Again he warned that if integration oc-
curred, "it will create the greatest economic disaster in the his-
tory of Florida. You'll have misery and poverty. Your beaches and
motels will be closed."26 Lowry enumerated his business qualifi-
cations, spoke of his success in finance and in industry, and
claimed that he would better understand business problems and
that he had more experience than his "political lawyer" opponents.27
Few important issues other than segregation and industrial
development arose during the campaign. Some controversy de-
veloped as to who deserved the credit or the blame for the Florida
highways and over Warren's proposal for increasing homestead
exemption. Argument continued over apportionment. Bryant dis-
covered that Lowry was being supported by the Du Pont in-
terests. And Collins, Bryant, and Lowry recalled Warren's record
with disgust, while Warren himself pointed with pride to his
Late in April, Bryant made a broadcast from Miami Beach in
which he disclosed that Lowry was being supported by the Du
Pont interests, accusing him of being Ed Ball's puppet. He revealed
that Dan Crisp, a former Du Pont lobbyist and in 1956 still work-
ing for the St. Joe Paper Company, a Du Pont subsidiary, and
E. H. Ramsey of Tampa, associated with Du Pont for years, were
Lowry supporters.28 Bryant went on to say, "The general may be-
lieve that segregation is the only issue in the campaign, but the
Ed Ball-Du Pont interests who are providing the money for his
lush campaign fund have their eyes elsewhere. Their real pur-
pose is to keep the tax burden in Florida off the neck of the Du
Pont interests and on the backs of the consumers."29 Bryant said
25. Tampa Morning Tribune, March 17, 1956, p. 9.
26. Florida Times Union, April 4, 1956, p. 15.
27. Lowry campaign brochure, Lowry 1956, Collins Papers.
28. Florida Times Union, April 22, 1956, p. 17.
29. Ibid., April 28, 1956, p. 18.
that from personal conversations he had had with Ball, he knew
that Du Pont sought to decrease the property tax burden on the
hundreds of thousands of Du Pont acres by securing an across-the-
board sales tax. The limited one effectuated in 1949 exempted
food and drugs.30
Lowry then announced Ball's support with pride, saying he
thought it was "a fine and healthy thing to see our distinguished
citizens take an open stand like Mr. Ball." He and Ball were per-
sonal friends, he said, who agreed on the issues of segregation and
states rights. Collins, when asked to comment, only said, "I thought
that everyone had been knowing that all along."31 Ed Ball said
that he was backing Lowry personally, but that the Du Pont
interests were not involved.32
While not of great moment in itself, the disclosure of Du Pont
support could have done Lowry no service. It served to cast some
suspicion upon his "crusade" for segregation. It may have alien-
ated those who were acquainted with the Ball string-pulling in
the past and who feared that an increased sales tax was Du Pont's
primary objective in the election.
The campaign generated some disagreement over the Sixty-
Seven Senator Amendment, to be voted on statewide the follow-
ing November. Warren espoused it as part of his platform and
Bryant endorsed it as well, both saying that it was the best plan yet
proposed because it contained an automatic reapportionment
process for avoiding future battles. The amendment would have
granted each county one senator and would have made minor
concessions in the House apportionment to the larger counties
so that the population required to elect a majority of the Senate
would have declined from 13 per cent to about 8 per cent, while
the population required to elect a majority of the House would
have increased from about 15 per cent to 27 per cent.33 The sec-
tional lines were very sharply drawn regarding this amendment,
as can be seen from the vote in the November election: it was
defeated 288,575 to 187,662, with almost all the larger counties
against it. Warren justified the plan on the basis that there is a
very real analogy between the federal government and the
30. Ibid., April 26, 1956, p. 24.
31. Tallahassee Democrat, April 22, 1956, n.p.
32. John McDermott, "It Looks Like LeRoy Collins Day in Florida Tues-
day," Miami Herald, May 6, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
33. Havard and Beth, The Politics of Misrepresentation, pp. 43, 53.
48 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
states, where each state has two senators regardless of size, and
the state government and the counties.34 Talking at Palatka,
Warren blamed the big newspapers with absentee ownership
for opposing the plan because they were bent on "squeezing every
dollar out of the state possible."35
Governor Collins opposed the amendment, saying it would
further the inequities of representation already existing. He called
it "about the worst monstrosity to come down the legislative pike
in years." He objected to the unreasonable size of the proposed
legislature and predicted that if the amendment were adopted
there would be discord between the two houses leading to stale-
mate and preventing constructive legislation. Collins also ridi-
culed the analogy between states and counties, saying that
states are sovereign governments while counties are merely
administrative units of states.36
Warren's proposal to double the homestead exemption drew
fire from most quarters. Bryant said that it was "more like a sieve
than a plank," warning that financial chaos would result."7 Col-
lins' supporters declared that the proposal "would close every
school and bankrupt every town."38 Fiscal experts warned that
it would place an even greater burden on business property
owners and that it would be necessary to require assessment at
100 per cent of present market values. Tax officials said that the
$10,000 homestead exemption would be catastrophic. The $5,000
homestead exemption cost Dade County $19 million in 1956.
The estimate was that a $10,000 exemption would cost an addi-
tional $10 million.39 In Broward County, officials declared that
they would "throw in the sponge" if the exemption were raised,
because no city could survive such a revenue loss.40 The Warren
proposal did not fire the public imagination under such circum-
stances. Warren's own explanation of his proposal was that with
costs of homes increasing, it was difficult to buy one under
$10,000.41 He anticipated 100 per cent assessment which would
34. Interview with Fuller Warren.
35. Florida Times Union, March 13, 1956, p. 19.
36. Ibid., February 21, 1956, p. 21.
37. Miami Herald, February 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 20.
38. Ibid., April 8, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
39. C. C. Berning, "$5,000 Homestead Exemption Here to Stay," Miami
Herald, April 15, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
40. Miami Herald, April 1, 1956, Broward ed., p. 1.
41. Ibid., March 28, 1956, sec. C, p. 1.
have required nearly every homeowner to pay property taxes.42
He said that the proposed exemption wouldn't have taken much
revenue from the counties, because some assessed property for
only 15 per cent anyway.
Highways were another point of contention, with candidates
hurling charges and countercharges against each other. Warren,
Bryant, and Collins all took credit for the Florida turnpike. How-
ever, since the turnpike was bob-tailed (cut short) by its op-
ponents before 1955, when the legislature finally decided to build
the whole road from Georgia to Miami, the waters were suffi-
ciently muddied so that no clear-cut facts emerged. The Miami
Herald entered the arena, charging that Warren didn't support
the turnpike until late 1951, that former Senator Gautier was the
individual most responsible for securing support for the turnpike
in the legislature.43 It criticized Bryant because, as speaker in
1953, he appointed legislators opposed to the turnpike as chair-
men of the crucial Rules and Roads committees. Then, the Herald
said, when public support for the turnpike could no longer be
resisted, the compromise, bob-tailed turnpike was passed.44 Bryant
was furious, charging that the Herald misrepresented the facts.
He said that actually he had led the fight for the pike and had
saved it by promoting the compromise, and in 1955 he had
worked to put through the full turnpike.45
Warren claimed that more roads were built during his admin-
istration than at any other time.46 He made a series of appeals for
votes in various localities by criticizing present or proposed con-
struction which had some local opposition.47 He made a special
point of opposing the Collins administration's plans to build the
turnpike west of Jacksonville, claiming that his administration
had planned to have it feed into the Jacksonville Expressway.
Warren's advertisements in the Jacksonville Florida Times Union
promised the tie-in between the two highways if he were
elected.48 Warren also objected to the haste with which the Col-
lins administration was validating the bonds for the turnpike.
42. Interview with Fuller Warren.
43. Miami Herald, April 9, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
44. Ibid., March 28, 1956, sec. A, p. 6.
45. Ibid., March 27, 1956, sec. A, p. 10.
46. Florida Times Union, March 9, 1956, p. 21.
47. Ibid., March 31, 1956, p. 18.
48. Ibid., May 2, 1956, adv., p. 12.
50 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
He referred to the bill before Congress which proposed that the
federal government provide 90 per cent of the cost of highways
and the states only 10 per cent.49 Warren insisted, even years
later, that Collins had gotten a "mere fraction" of what Florida
could have received from the federal government for highways.50
Collins spoke on television in Jacksonville defending the sepa-
ration of the turnpike and the Jacksonville Expressway because
it was in the best interests of the whole state. Furthermore, he
said that it was neither sound business nor to the advantage of
the people of Jacksonville to dump heavy traffic from the turn-
pike into the already difficult traffic situation in Jacksonville,
citing engineering and financial studies which recommended the
Bryant, in a bid for South Florida votes, charged that Collins
had cut highway spending in Dade and Broward counties the
previous year, using the diverted funds to build up his political
fences in other areas.52 Collins needed a heavy South Florida
majority and he reacted promptly with an announcement sev-
eral days later that the state would build a multimillion-dollar
north-south freeway to relieve the heavily congested Dade
County streets. State Road Board Chairman Wilbur Jones promised
that the expressway would be started within a year.53 Fuller War-
ren said that the promised expressway "appears to be another
hoax cooked up to capture votes." Warren asserted that the ex-
pressway could be built only if the 1957 legislature were willing
to appropriate funds and impose taxes to pay for it, saying that
Collins was trying to "deceive the people of Dade County into
thinking he's going to give them a great expressway project that
hasn't been surveyed, that hasn't been planned, and that no
money is on hand or has been provided for."54 The State Road
Board had the last word by pledging to build half the expressway
with $2 million from the $8,535,000 tentatively earmarked for
Dade primary road projects.55 The promised expressway was con-
49. Ibid., March 28, 1956, p. 18.
50. Interview with Fuller Warren.
51. Florida Times Union, April 10, 1956, p. 30.
52. Ibid., April 18, 1956, p. 22.
53. Miami Herald, April 21, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
54. Ibid., April 22, 1956, sec. B, p. 11.
55. James Miller, "State Pledges 2 Million for Miami Bypass," Miami
Herald, April 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 51
create proof to Dade County residents that Collins intended to
provide for their area.
Collins' office sent out information detailing the administration's
activities not only in road-building but in all other areas, along
with lists of 1955 expenditures, for use in public relations in each
county by Collins' county headquarters.56
Fuller Warren's record as governor was an issue constantly
disputed by the candidates. Warren defended his administration,
listing its unquestioned accomplishments. However, he was vul-
nerable because of his refusal to appear before the Kefauver
investigating committee and because of his signing the sales tax
bill, despite his campaign pledge to veto it. Even before Warren
announced his candidacy, Bryant declared, "If Warren does run,
the principal issues will no longer be constitutional revision,
economy, leadership, or even segregation, but the defense of our
state against the locust horde of political henchmen, phonies,
and cronies who wait in the shadows to feast upon the power and
treasures of the people of Florida."57 Collins opened his Miami
campaign with an appeal to voters not to "turn back the clock to
the days of greed and favoritism." He spoke immediately after
Senator Gautier had reminded his audience that the Warren
administration had "brought more discredit and more disgrace on
Florida than anything in the history of our state."58
Warren challenged Collins to a debate on each man's public
and private record. Collins' campaign manager said that Warren
had reportedly been having poor turnouts and there was no ad-
vantage to Collins in helping Warren draw a crowd. Gautier,
however, did offer to debate with Warren, and after Warren's
repeated refusal to "let Collins' hatchet man do the dirty work on
me,"59 Warren finally did debate with Gautier in Miami. Gautier
read the record of the Kefauver Committee linking racetrack
owner Big Bill Johnson, the $100,000 contributor to Warren's
1948 campaign, with the Chicago underworld.60 Warren retaliated
with a whole list of insinuations against Collins. These charged
56. Memoranda from Collins' Tallahassee headquarters, Misc. 1956, Collins
57. Miami News, February 21, 1956, sec. C, p. 9.
58. John McDermott, "Collins Launches Campaign at Beach Tea and in
Miami," Miami Herald, March 23, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
59. Miami Herald, March 29, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
60. Ibid., April 8, 1956, sec. A, p. 3.
52 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Collins with accepting fees from a Miami racetrack and with
making real estate deals on St. George Island for his personal
profit while planning state improvements there.
Warren justified his refusal to appear before the committee by
explaining that the federal government did not have the author-
ity to subpoena a governor of a sovereign state. Much heat was
generated on the subject of Warren's record. In another election,
law enforcement might have been the key issue. In 1956, law
enforcement as an issue was greatly overshadowed by the com-
bination of desegregation, attracting industry, and the effect of
the former upon the latter.
6. Campaign Techniques and Tactics
A RELEASE by the Associated Press on March 9 declared that
the sound truck would be the major "vehicle of communication"
between the gubernatorial candidates and the voters. Warren,
Bryant, and Lowry announced plans to stump the state exten-
sively. Only Collins, who had used the stumping technique to
great advantage in 1954, said that he would concentrate his
campaign on television, radio, and personal appearances.1 Whistle-
stopping was a skill in which Fuller Warren excelled. He was
folksy, articulate, and always ready with an apt phrase or quip.
He believed that talking to an unseen audience on television
was "like kissing a pretty girl through a screen door."2 It may be
recalled that in 1956, Senator Estes Kefauver was receiving much
publicity on his successful use of the person-to-person approach
in his presidential primary campaigns.
In a discussion of Florida Panhandle politics, Herbert Cameron,
Florida Times Union Tallahassee correspondent, wrote that
people living in the area were serious about their politics and ex-
pected the old-fashioned fish fry and rally.3 All the candidates
used the handshaking and rally approach, giving fish fries, barbe-
ques, and touring fairs, factories, and shopping centers.4 Lowry's
innovation in Florida campaign techniques was a drive-in rally
in Jacksonville at the end of the municipal waterfront parking
lot. Parking and mooring facilities were made available, and
Lowry spoke from the deck of a boat moored alongside the
1. Florida Times Union, March 9, 1956, p. 21.
2. Miami Herald, April 9, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
3. "Rally Keynote of Panhandle Politics," Florida Times Union, April 8,
1956, p. 21.
4. Lawrence Thompson, "Candidates Turning to Old Tried Ways," Miami
Herald, April 15, 1956, sec. A, p. 15.
5. Florida Times Union, March 29, 1956, p. 21.
54 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
However, by April it had become obvious that political tech-
niques were changing. The candidates, spurred on by Collins'
television impact, were concentrating their efforts and their
cash more and more on television and radio talks, foregoing the
old fish-fry and hillbilly band technique to a considerable degree.
Warren was the last holdout, adhering to the sound truck and
handshaking methods more than the others.6 Considering that a
good deal of his support had been from the northwest area, this
is not surprising. Warren and, to a lesser extent, Bryant made ef-
forts to involve Collins in debate. Collins steadfastly refused,
although he had used debate to his own advantage against Johns
in 1954. As mentioned, he had good reason to believe that he
could gain little from giving his opponents additional exposure.
Bryant, after resuming the campaign, tried to convert his
financial disability into an advantage by attacking the "million-
aire's race" of his competitors. He announced that he had refused
offers of money from gambling and liquor interests. The wealthy,
according to Bryant, wanted two dollars back for every dollar
they contributed.7 Therefore, he was waging a limited campaign
with the support of the "little man."8 It was in this vein that he
attacked the Du Pont support of Lowry. It is interesting to note
here that Bryant was not so concerned about a "millionaire's
race" in 1960, for he received a total of $853,424 in contributions
and spent $737,185 in order to get himself elected. He also
solicited and accepted money from Ed Ball.9
Lowry, despite his financing by Ball, made a special bid for the
workingman's vote by warning that the rich could escape integra-
tion but the poor would be unable to avoid it.10 He made a sec-
tional attack upon Warren in an effort to detach the latter's
"friends and neighbors" vote in Northwest Florida, saying, "War-
ren was a West Florida boy, but when he got out of office, did he
come back to live with you folks? No. He moved downstate to live
with the rich people on Miami Beach.""1
Warren recognized the impact Lowry had made upon his own
6. Ibid., April 7, 1956, p. 18.
7. Miami News, March 19, 1956, sec. A, p. 15.
8. Miami Herald, March 16, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
9. Ibid., December 8, 1960, sec. A, p. 17. See also Robert Sherrill, Gothic
Politics in the Deep South (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1968), p. 134.
10. Florida Times Union, March 9, 1956, p. 22.
11. McDermott, "Warren Raps U.S. Publicity Given Florida."
CAMPAIGN TECHNIQUES 55
former adherents. He told his audiences "not to waste your vote
on Sumter Lowry. Put me in the second race and I'll beat the
present governor. I'm the only candidate that can beat him."12
The Warren newspaper advertisements were tailored for the
area covered by the newspaper. His Dade County ads stressed the
fact that he would be the first governor from Dade.13 He in-
sinuated that Collins was being financed by the Hialeah race-
track and that Collins' aides tried to suppress the Dade grand
jury report, a major local issue at that moment.'4 In Jacksonville,
Warren laid greatest emphasis upon segregation and upon the tie-in
between the Florida turnpike and the Jacksonville Expressway.15
Collins likewise endeavored to prove his concern with local
problems. In one Jacksonville ad, he showed a map of the roads
and bridges, outlining recent construction with the caption
"Here's What Gov. LeRoy Collins' Administration Has Done for
Duval's Roads and Bridges."16 He emphasized what he had done
and could do for business, and his record of clean government
and progress statewide. In a Miami Herald ad, he quoted Howard
Hughes, Ralph McGill, and Time and Look articles which lauded
The Lowry ads were in line with his one-plank program. Only
at the very end of the campaign did he begin to sell himself as a
businessman as well. Bryant, hampered by a shortage of funds,
hardly advertised at all.
The Atlanta Constitution, writing of the Florida primary,
called it a "heated contest, filled with an amount of sound, fury,
and recriminations quite unnatural for the usually sensible citrus
state.""s The 1956 campaign was certainly distinguished by a
greater amount of name-calling than usual. Warren, under per-
sonal attack, and adept at phrase-making, led the field. He called
Bryant "the Ocala character assassin with the Harvard accent"
and the "frenzied little office seeker" after Bryant had called his
platform "diabolical, demagogic, and dangerous."19 Warren termed
12. Miami Herald, April 28, 1956, st. ed., sec. B, p. 1.
13. Miami News, March 17, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
14. Miami Herald, May 1, 1956, sec. D, p. 7, and May 3, 1956, sec. D, p. 7.
15. Florida Times Union, May 2, 1956, p. 12.
16. Ibid., May 4, 1956, p. 25.
17. Miami Herald, April 28, 1956, sec. A, p. 10.
18. As quoted ibid., May 7, 1956, sec. E, p. 3.
19. Miami News, March 12, 1956, sec. A, p. 10.
56 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
Lowry "a one-star political general firing verbal blanks,"20 and
"that millionaire ex-general who scooped up a fortune in a
lucky insurance operation." A Warren flyer referred to Col-
lins as the "curley-haired boy up in Tallahassee-the friend of the
Lowry called his opponents "political lawyers" who were sup-
ported by entrenched political machines.22 He ridiculed Collins'
"mouthings" about promoting industry, saying that Collins
"scarcely knows which end of the smokestack the smoke comes
from."23 Lowry called Warren "this warmed-over comedian."24
One of Lowry's pamphlets represented all his opponents as in-
tegrationists and tools of the NAACP and enraged them all. Collins
was particularly outraged because of the declaration that he had
"caught the Moscow train." He referred to the "smear" in a
speech at Tampa, saying, "No man of honor and integrity would
use a pamphlet of that kind no matter how desperate he be-
came."25 He spoke of Lowry as a "one-track" candidate embarked
on a course of inciting hatred and disorder. Referring to Warren,
he spoke of "buffoonery and demagoguery."26 Bryant was not to
be outdone. He called Lowry a "puppet for Ed Ball and the Du
Pont interests."27 He spoke of Collins' "lame" administration and
of Warren's "shame" administration.28
20. Miami Herald, February 27, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
21. As quoted in J. E. Dovell and D. G. Temple, "Florida's Democratic
Gubernatorial Primary for 1956," Florida's Business (January-March 1957):
22. McDermott, "Three Candidates Look Alike."
23. Florida Times Union, April 13, 1956, p. 22.
24. Ibid., February 29, 1956, p. 21.
25. Miami News, April 26, 1956, sec. D, p. 5.
26. Florida Times Union, April 25, 1956, p. 21.
27. Ibid., April 28, 1956, p. 18.
28. Miami News, March 11, 1956, sec. A, p. 4.
7. Sources of Support
THE DISCLOSURES of the Kefauver Committee about the ad-
vance underwriting of Warren's 1948 campaign by three million-
aires, as well as the exceedingly expensive Pepper-Smathers race
in 1950, spurred passage of a campaign expense law.1 A $1,000
ceiling was placed on total individual contributions, and candi-
dates were required to file with the Secretary of State each week
a record of their collections, names of contributors, and itemized
expenditures. No contributions could be made by corporations, by
persons with racetrack permits or liquor licenses, or by officers or
directors of public utilities franchised by the state. No restriction
was placed on the total expenditure in a campaign, however.2
The 1955 legislature made further changes in an effort to reduce
campaign expenditures. It moved the qualifying date up to Feb-
ruary 21-March 6, hoping that by shortening the campaign
period, less would be spent. It also forbade any campaign spend-
ing before February 21 except for personal travel.3 For the 1954
primary, the candidates began campaigning in October 1953.
Johns, Odham, and Collins together spent over $600,000 for the
Despite the four months or so cut from the campaigning time,
the four major candidates in 1956 spent $650,000: Collins spent
$291,183, Lowry $115,216, Bryant $63,048, and Warren $194,682.5
The cost of television time was so high and the use of that media
so important in modern campaigning that despite the excellent
intentions of the new law, campaign expenditures remained as
high as ever. In the four primaries between 1952 and 1956, the
1. Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, pp. 122-23.
2. Havard and Beth, The Politics of Misrepresentation, p. 85.
3. Florida Times Union, April 22, 1956, p. 25.
4. Miami Herald, April 23, 1956, sec. B, p. 1.
5. Price, p. 97.
58 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
candidate spending the most money received the most votes.6
Collins' advantage in this respect was certainly great, and
Bryant's disadvantage in having about one-fifth the funds avail-
able to Collins was equally plain.
The sources of campaign contributions were not as apparent as
would first appear. It was difficult to prove that contributions were
actually given by individuals in greater amounts than permitted
by law and attributed to a number of other persons, but it was
nevertheless obvious that this was probably happening.
Collins was in a more favorable position to obtain endorsements
and campaign workers as well as financial backing. Often the in-
cumbent has a ready-made organization while the others have
to build from almost nothing. In Collins' case, however, his
major disadvantage was that he had appointed many of his former
campaign workers to public office. Public employees in Florida
were prohibited from campaigning. While Collins had the
nucleus of an organization, most of his key people were unavail-
able to him. For example, the 1954 chairmen of his Hillsborough,
Volusia, Suwanee, Lee, Orange, Pinellas, and Dade county organi-
zations were either serving on the state Supreme Court, the Cir-
cuit Court, or the various state boards and commissions.7
Information on campaign organization and supporters has
been rather inconclusive, but it has been possible to glean some
facts. In vote-rich Dade County, Collins had the active backing
of Senator R. B. (Bunn) Gautier and former Representative Wil-
liam C. Lantaff. Gautier kept up a constant running battle with
Warren, attacking Warren's record with a vehemence which Col-
lins might have considered unbecoming for himself.8 Colonel
Jack A. Younger resigned as president of the Dade County Crime
Commission, a private organization devoted to fighting racket-
eering, to work for Collins. He declared that he was apprehen-
sive that big-time racketeering would return to Florida if Warren
were elected again.9 In populous Broward County, incumbent
Speaker of the House Ted David sacrificed running for re-
election to give his time to Collins' campaign.10 Probably the most
important of his supporters, though, was Brailey Odham, whose
6. See illustration no. 1 in Appendix.
7. Miami Herald, February 13, 1956, sec. A, p. 23.
8. Miami News, March 23, 1956, sec. A, pp. 1, 10.
9. Miami Herald, April 4, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
10. Florida Times Union, March 6, 1956, p. 18.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT
ability to hold a statewide following and to transfer its votes to
another candidate was regarded with awe by many observers.11
Odham, under pressure from Warren, resigned from the Inter-
American Trade and Cultural Center Authority to campaign for
Collins, saying that he would "walk through Florida barefooted"
to prevent Warren's election.12
Although Bryant had been preparing for the campaign for
three years, he had such difficulty obtaining support that shortly
after he announced his candidacy, he declared that he might with-
draw from the campaign because he couldn't raise the necessary
money. Several days later he announced that supporters had
come through with enough funds for him to conduct a limited
statewide race.13 Bryant's support was largely concentrated in
Marion County with state Senator L. K. Edwards and Representa-
tive William Chappell behind him. His state chairman was James
Kynes, at that time an Ocala attorney. Bryant had no organization
at all in some counties.14
Warren entered the campaign with part of his old organization
intact. He had considerable support in North Florida, including
many influential state legislators. His campaign contributions
were statewide, with much money coming from Dade County.
Lowry, on the other hand, had to build an organization from
nothing, and many North Floridians who would have been his
logical supporters were already committed to Warren. According
to his own testimony, he had no pledged financial assistance.15 De-
spite this initial disadvantage, he made tremendous progress
throughout the campaign. His public relations advisor was Dan
Crisp of Jacksonville, who had been a Du Pont lobbyist for many
years and had worked for Senator Smathers in his successful
campaign against Senator Pepper in 1950.16
Lowry's state campaign manager, Joe Jenkins, was a former com-
mander of the Florida American Legion. Although Lowry had
not previously run for office, he was by no means unknown or
11. Tom Raker, "Odham Helps to Sell Cabinet $50,000 Job," Tampa
Morning Tribune, January 29, 1956, sec. A, p. 25.
12. Miami Herald, April 22, 1956, sec. A, p. 26.
13. Ibid., March 16, 1956, sec. A, p. 23.
14. Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 11, 1956, p. 16. See also letters to
Collins from his campaign workers, 1956 Collins Papers.
15. Lowry letter.
16. John L. Boyles, "No One Wants a Special Session." Miami Herald,
March 18, 1956, sec. G, p. 2.
60 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
without political connection; he had been regional director for
the 1952 Eisenhower drive in Florida and had long-time National
Guard and American Legion contacts. Lowry says that his "prin-
cipal supporter" was Ed Ball of Du Pont but that, in general, he
had little business backing.17 Knowledgeable observers believed
that he had ample campaign funds, despite a television appeal for
money for his "crusade."is
Traditionally, candidates, especially incumbents, had been able
to count on the active support of state employees. Under a new
state law, career state employees were prohibited from active cam-
paigning and from taking a leave of absence to campaign for a
candidate.'9 The law was designed to protect career employees
from political pressure, and in 1956 it was successful in operation.
Tallahassee had one of the quietest campaigns observers could re-
member, while state employees were required to abstain even
from placing bumper strips on their cars. One practical effect of
this law was to remove an advantage which Collins would prob-
ably have enjoyed.
Organized labor took no official position in the gubernatorial
primary. The AFL-CIO political arm, COPE, printed a list of en-
dorsed candidates in the May 8 primary, but it failed to endorse a
gubernatorial candidate, although it was believed that a majority
of state labor leaders preferred Collins. Collins, Warren, and
Bryant each claimed that he was supported by the rank and file of
organized labor, of whom there were over 150,000.20 There is little
evidence that labor voted as a unit for anyone.
While conclusive proof of Collins' business support throughout
the state is not available, widespread newspaper support and heavy
contributions indicate that Collins was the choice of businessmen,
particularly in peninsular Florida. The contribution lists from
Dade County clearly show that Dade business was behind Col-
lins. Among his contributors were Arthur Vining Davis, multi-
millionaire South Florida investor, William D. Singer, then owner
of the Royal Castle hamburger chain, Roy Hawkins of the huge
Florida Bessemer Properties, Frank Rooney, the largest general
17. Lowry letter.
18. Boyles, "Special Session."
19. Herbert Cameron, "Merit Plan No-Politics Rule Effective," Florida
Times Union, April 1, 1956, p. 22.
20. Bryan Donaldson, "State Labor Heads Leaning to Collins," Miami
Herald, April 15, 1956, sec. B, p. 5.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT il
contractor in Florida, J. A. Cantor, millionaire real estate de-
veloper, Ben Novack, owner of the Fontainebleau Hotel, and a
number of officials of the Keyes Company, largest real estate com-
pany in the South. Collins' banking support included Lowry Wall,
chairman of the board of the Miami Beach First National Bank,
Paul Scott, attorney for the First National Bank of Miami (and for
the Florida Power and Light Company), Jack Gordon, president of
the Washington Federal Savings and Loan Association, George B.
Caster of the Coral Gables Savings and Loan Association, and
Shepard Broad of the American Savings and Loan Association.21
Negro leadership lined up behind Collins in 1956. Its impor-
tance can be assessed from the black Democratic registration,
which had risen to an all-time high of 128,437. A solid black vote
for a major gubernatorial candidate was of great importance in
placing him in the run-off or in giving him a majority.22 It was
generally agreed by all the candidates that the black vote would
be significant. Bryant, Warren, and Lowry all declared that
the black didn't want integration. Collins was conveniently un-
available for comment.23
Solicitation of the black vote has at times backfired on a can-
didate. One of the factors in the Smathers defeat of Pepper in
1950 was the publicizing of the pro-Pepper CIO-PAC registration
drive among blacks, despite Pepper's efforts to dissociate himself
from it.24 Candidates have generally solicited the black vote while
reassuring whites that they are not pro-Negro. Usually they met
privately with black leaders, giving them such assurances as
Most information on Collins' relationship with a black commu-
nity was from Miami, but judging from the vote in the other
large centers of urban black population, it is not unreasonable to
assume that their situations were similar. Collins, using consider-
able discretion, continued to solicit the black vote, despite the
difficult racial situation into which Lowry had maneuvered him.
The Dade County Young Democratic Alliance was composed of
the most prominent of the Miami black leaders, including as
21. Miami Herald, March 27, 1956, sec. A, p. 19; April 3, 1956, sec. A,
p. 14; April 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 10.
22. Price, p. 97.
23. Ron Levitt, "Negro Vote Will Carry Weight," Miami Herald, April
16, 1956, sec. A, p. 26.
24. Price, pp. 60-63.
62 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
its second vice-president the Reverend Theodore Gibson, local
NAACP president. Collins met with them, obtained their en-
dorsement as he had in 1954, and even attended a public rally at
the Mount Zion Baptist Church. Warren also solicited black votes
in Miami, meeting with black teachers at the Dr. Phar Funeral
Home. Bryant made no real effort to solicit the black vote, at
least in Miami, and was considered an unknown quantity by the
Negro leadership in 1956.25
The problem of the Dade County Young Democratic Alliance
was to raise the registration figures, which were comparatively
low in proportion to population. Some 35,000 to 40,000 persons
were eligible to vote, but registration was less than half
that figure. Black leaders made a concentrated drive for black
In Miami, the Alliance held rallies, made speeches, distributed
flyers and small endorsement cards, and paid for large advertise-
ments in the Miami Times, the local black weekly.27 The latter
did not endorse Collins. Its owner and former editor, H. E. S.
Reeves, explained that although the paper was solidly behind
Collins, "We did not want to hurt him."28 Reeves said that the
racial climate at that time, even in Miami, was such that his paper
believed endorsement of a candidate would be used to that can-
didate's disadvantage in the white community. In 1956, the Miami
Times contented itself with writing, "Let us look at the record
of the candidates. You have heard them on television and you
must have read or heard quite a lot about some of the methods
some candidates are using to secure votes in this campaign."29
Actually, black registration rose from 119,000 in 1954 to 128,000
in 1956. Although it was lower in Dade and Duval than it had
been in 1954, in areas like Tampa it rose to its highest level.
However, the importance of black support can be readily seen
from the voting figures, for they voted as much as ten to one for
25. Interview with Father Gibson.
26. Miami Times, February 4, 1956, p. 1.
27. Telephone interview with Lloma G. Green, 1956 Executive Secretary
of Dade County Young Democratic Alliance, February 25, 1964.
28. Interview with Reeves, February 27, 1964.
29. Miami Times, editorial, April 28, 1956, p. 4. Several years later, the
Miami Times began endorsing candidates.
30. Price, pp. 57-58, 65.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT
ROLE OF THE PRESS
Collins received the support of all but one of the Florida daily
newspapers which made an endorsement. In a survey of forty
Florida dailies, twenty-one endorsed Collins, one endorsed Bryant,
and the remainder took no stand. Bryant's hometown paper, the
Ocala Star-Banner, was his sole supporter. The Miami Herald,
Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orlando Sentinel, Miami
News, Tallahassee Democrat, Bradenton Herald, Fort Pierce News-
Tribune, Fort Myers News-Press, Sarasota News, Fort Lauderdale
Daily News, Lakeland Ledger, Winter Haven News Chief, Pa-
latka Daily News, Sanford Herald, Lake Wales Daily Highlander,
and Miami Beach Sun were among Collins' backers. The influential
Florida Times Union of Jacksonville remained neutral, but nearly
all the other large city newspapers were behind Collins. He re-
ceived support even in the Florida Panhandle, as was reflected
by the endorsement of him by weeklies in Port St. Joe, Chatta-
hoochee, Chipley, and Havana.31
Among the editorial comments favoring Collins, the Winter
Haven News Chief wrote, "Collins is the Best," commenting that
neither Warren nor Lowry could do the outstanding job done by
Collins in selling Florida.32 A Miami News editorial said, "Today
there is little of literate America that does not recognize the name
of LeRoy Collins, governor of Florida. That is not the slick promo-
tion of a politician. That is the sound and statesmanlike leader-
ship of a good governor. Under Governor Collins, Florida has
achieved such a standard of integrity, stability, and progress as
never before in its history."33 The Miami Herald referred to the
esteem accorded Collins and to the new climate of integrity and
efficiency in the executive branch.34 The Daytona Beach Morning
Journal took the position that the racial agitation "carries a
built-in threat to the economic development of the South."35 On
the dangers of extremism, the Tampa Tribune wrote, "As a matter
of cold practicality, then, what sense does it make for Florida to
abandon its present favored position to indulge in an emotional
spree and suffer the inevitable hangover? In these troubled
31. Miami Herald, April 22, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
32. As quoted in Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 18, 1956, sec. A, p. 33.
33. Miami News, editorial, May 6, 1956, sec. C, p. 2.
34. Miami Herald, editorial, March 24, 1956, sec. A, p. 6.
35. As quoted in Miami News, March 25, 1956, sec. D, p. 11.
64 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
times, Florida is fortunate to have a governor who shuns the low
road of demagoguery for the high road of statesmanship."36
The newspapers were not content only to endorse Collins: they
attacked his rivals with vigor. The Tampa Tribune, which renewed
a feud from Warren administration days, blistered the "Same Old
Fuller Warren," referring to his "demagogic appeals" and to his
campaign pledges which promised something for everyone. His
program, the Tribune declared, was "carefully calculated to in-
fluence the unthinking, to-heck-with-the-other-guy, what's-in-it
for-me type of citizen."37 The papers repeatedly referred to the
Warren record, emphasizing the Kefauver refusal, the multi-
millionaire backers, and the scandals. Warren reacted with vehe-
mence, attacking "wealthy Yankee" absentee ownership of papers
like the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tampa Tribune.3" He took a
quarter-page ad in the Tribune to object to an unsubstantiated
charge made against him, saying, "From past experience, I have
come to expect low blows from the absentee owned Tampa
Lowry fared as badly as Warren. Editorials blasted the injection
of the race issue and the one-plank platform, emphasizing the
dangers of stirring up hatred and violence. The Tallahassee
Democrat said it was "disturbing to find a candidate entering the
contest with no other apparent plank in his platform-no mention
of the other vital affairs of government." The Fort Myers News-
Press said of Lowry's candidacy, "It is deplorable indeed to find a
candidate seriously seeking the governorship in the year 1956 on
a platform of racialism. It will be even more deplorable if the
other candidates continue to dignify the 'issue' by debating with
him." Warning of the danger of Lowry's candidacy, the Tampa
Tribune wrote, "It's no trick to play catch with a hand grenade
and the stunt may impress the grandstand. The trouble is, a lot of
innocent people can get hurt."40 The St. Petersburg Times said
that Ed Ball's backing of Lowry indicated that the segregation
issue, "the one-tune repertoire of the soldier from Tampa," was
being exploited for "economic political purposes. It raises the
36. As quoted ibid., February 12, 1956, sec. A, p. 19.
37. Tampa Morning Tribune, editorial, February 23, 1956, p. 16.
38. Florida Times Union, March 10, 1956, p. 18.
39. Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 11, 1956, sec. A, p. 28.
40. All quoted in Miami News, February 12, 1956, sec. A, p. 19.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT 00
question of who would be the governor if Lowry were elected-
Lowry or Mr. Ball?"41
A number of the newspapers commented favorably on Bryant,
even while endorsing Collins. The Winter Haven News-Chief
said, "Right now we feel that Bryant isn't the man for the pres-
ent term." Some newspapers seemed to believe that he was only
warming up for the 1960 contest. The Ocala Star-Banner con-
sidered his unusual talents and abilities and endorsed his candi-
dacy, but the Miami Herald found him unimpressive, comment-
ing on his responsibility for the two-year delay in construction
of the full state turnpike.42
Lowry and Bryant each made separate statements complaining
about the favored treatment that Collins was given by the press.
Each accused the Miami papers of instituting a news blackout on
them. Bryant said, "They have a candidate but they're blanking
out other candidates. They're making misstatements of facts and
I resent their efforts to misrepresent me in the race for gover-
nor."43 Bryant later said, "The only way I can get my name in the
Miami Herald is to say something blasting the Herald."44 It may
be noted that Bryant made the same claim during his 1960
Lowry claimed that the press was so hostile that he was reluc-
tant to grant interviews.46 The Lowry forces were apparently
quite upset over their treatment by the Miami news media,
judging from an incident which occurred at WTVJ-TV, Miami.
The candidate and his campaign manager, Joe Jenkins, arrived at
the studio to make a fifteen-minute paid political talk. Finding
that arrangements like backdrops, notestands, and the like had
not been prepared, Lowry grumbled but Jenkins was so enraged
that he spat tobacco juice across the studio floor. He continued
to spit on the floor saying, "That's what I think of you and
your -- station," despite repeated requests that he stop.47
Some Lowry backers wanted to keep the incident from leaking
41. Quoted in Miami News, May 6, 1956, sec. A, p. 9.
42. All of these quoted in the Tampa Morning Tribune, January 22, 1956,
sec. A, p. 27.
43. Florida Times Union, April 22, 1956, p. 23.
44. Ibid., April 26, 1956, p. 24.
45. Interview with Hesser.
46. Delaney, "'Interposition Will Stop It.' "
47. Tallahassee Democrat, April 24, 1956.
66 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
out if they could, but Lowry said, "Oh, don't worry about it. It'll
help us in West Florida."48
There is no doubt that Lowry did not receive the news cov-
erage in Dade that he received in the Florida Times Union, for
instance. Several explanations have been offered for the alleged
"blackout." Miami Herald political writer John McDermott wrote
that Lowry repeated himself and that that is the reason he didn't
receive the news coverage he expected.49 Also denying a news
blackout on Lowry, Miami News editor Bill Baggs, a columnist in
1956, said that Lowry was actually good copy, but that he
tended to avoid Dade County in his campaigning. Baggs' expla-
nation was that Lowry must have concentrated his activities else-
where because a good part of the Gulf Life Insurance Company
clientele in Florida was composed of Dade Negro citizens who
might retaliate against the company, knowing Lowry's connection
with it.50 Actually, Lowry was forced to resign from the board
of Gulf Life the day after he announced his candidacy because
the company was threatened with a boycott.51 As an important
stockholder, his relationship with the company might have oc-
casioned actual boycott if Negro leaders had considered him a
real threat to Collins.52
In trying to assess the influence of the press in the primary,
several factors must be considered. First, there was scarcely a town
in Florida where the .daily newspapers were not sold, usually on
the day they were published. This was particularly true of the
metropolitan papers like the Miami Herald, which published a
Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard, and state edition, the St. Peters-
burg Times, the Tampa Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, and the
Florida Times Union.53 Second, the newspapers tended to repre-
sent the attitudes of the urban areas. All but the St. Petersburg
Times were conservative in outlook, usually reflecting the
Chamber of Commerce position about government. The unanim-
ity of support for Collins must have been rather decisive in in-
fluencing the voters. Certainly Collins' adversaries thought so.
48. Wilder, "Gen. Sumter Lowry."
49. John McDermott, "Collins May Win Upset in Jacksonville," Miami
Herald, April 29, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
50. Interview with Bill Baggs, editor of the Miami News, March 11, 1964.
51. Florida Times Union, April 1, 1956, p. 22.
52. Interview with Father Gibson.
53. Havard and Beth, pp. 228-29.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT 67
Lowry wrote, "The Miami papers certainly had a great influence
on my defeat as a large part of the vote was in Dade County,
served by its papers."54 Warren, when questioned on the subject,
said that the newspapers were "pretty fair" in factual coverage,
but that their backing of Collins was "overwhelmingly important"
to the outcome of the contest.55
54. Lowry letter.
55. Interview with Fuller Warren.
8. Effects of the Primary
W HILE THE gubernatorial campaign was taking place in
Florida, much was happening elsewhere. The impending crisis
between Israel and Egypt, the Khrushchev denunciation of Stalin,
the Soviet dissolution of the Cominform, and the continuing re-
bellion in Cyprus dominated the international news. National
attention was held by Eisenhower's decision to seek a second
term, speculation over the possible "dumping" of Nixon, Senator
Case's disclosure of a bribe offer by the natural gas lobby, Ei-
senhower's subsequent veto of the natural gas bill, and the
Stevenson-Kefauver rivalry in the presidential primaries. But
none of these events, regardless of its importance, was given the
television, newspaper, and periodical coverage devoted to the
courtship and marriage of actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
A number of events in Florida, only remotely related to the
campaign, usurped the headlines. The President-designate of the
Senate, Harry King, was tried on a bribery charge connected
with his campaign for re-election. Stevenson and Kefauver
stumped Florida competing for presidential primary votes, and
the State Attorney in Dade County attempted to suppress a
grand jury report rebuking two Circuit Court judges for looting
the estate of an elderly couple. The grand jury revelations oc-
cupied almost totally the front pages of the Dade County news-
papers in the days just preceding the primary.
A final statewide poll by the Florida Political Survey Poll, con-
ducted by Joe Abrams and released April 29, a week preceding
the primary, gave Collins 43 per cent of the vote, Warren 23 per
cent, Lowry 20 per cent, and Bryant 13 per cent. Nevertheless,
it recognized Lowry's growing strength, noting, "His campaign is
EFFECTS OF THE PRIMARY ti
hot and he could be very dangerous by election time."' A tele-
phone poll conducted in Dade County April 22-25 by University
of Miami Professor Ross Beiler, ordered by Collins' Dade head-
quarters, revealed that Collins led in Dade with 78.5 per cent of
the vote.2 A Dade County victory of such proportions would have
given Collins the possibility of a first primary victory if his
support in other areas did not fade.
A Collins victory was generally expected by most major politi-
cal reporters. However, an Orlando Sentinel round-up of pre-
dictions throughout the state revealed that only John McDermott
of the Miami Herald anticipated that Collins would win in the
first primary.3 McDermott based his forecast partly on the re-
ports that Warren might not carry Duval County. He believed
that unless Warren won Duval handily, Collins could win a major-
ity.4 McDermott also used as basis for his prediction the 1952
primary, where McCarty barely missed winning in the first
primary by 2,500 votes. He believed that Collins was better
known than McCarty had been. Lowry was reported as early as
April 15 to have pulled ahead of Warren into second place.
Bryant was figured to finish last.5
Out-of-state interest in the Florida primary was high. The New
York Times reported on the impending contest, writing that the
major issue was segregation and the chief target Collins.6 The
Atlanta Constitution speculated on whether Florida would fol-
low Collins' progressive leadership or "be led up the blind alley
of hate and prejudice."7 Drew Pearson wrote, "Many people will
be watching the primary vote for governor for 'straws in the
wind' on the segregation issue."s
1. Florida Political Survey Poll, Final Bulletin, April 29, 1956, in Joe
Abrams file, Misc. 1956, Collins Papers.
2. Ross Beiler telephone poll report, Misc. 1956, Collins Papers. Actually,
Collins carried Dade by 72 per cent.
3. John McDermott, "Warren Clobbered As Governor Runs Away from
Field," Miami Herald, May 9, 1956, sec. G, p. 3.
4. McDermott, "Collins May Win Upset in Jacksonville."
5. McDermott, "It Looks Like LeRoy Collins Day in Florida Tuesday";
McDermott, "Adlai-Estes Choice Now Is Dangerous," Miami Herald, April
15, 1956, sec. G, p. 3; and McDermott, "1,000,000 Votes Tuesday in Florida,"
Miami Herald, May 7, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
6. New York Times, May 6, 1956, p. 52.
7. As quoted in Miami Herald, May 7, 1956, sec. B, p. 3.
8. Drew Pearson, "Would Be a Modern Caesar," Miami Herald, April 22,
1956, sec. G, p. 2.
70 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
On May 8, Collins won in the first primary, the first such vic-
tory since the run-off system was reintroduced in 1932. The pri-
mary featured the largest registration and vote in Florida history.
There were 1,277,022 registered Democrats.9 Of these, 840,083
had voted, compared to 666,360 in 1954 and 738,497 in 1952.10
Collins received 434,274 votes, Lowry 179,019, Bryant 110,469,
and Warren 107,990.11 Collins won 51.7 per cent of the total
vote, 14,000 more than necessary for a majority and 28,465 more
than the five other candidates. He received over 50 per cent of
the vote in nineteen counties, all in South Florida except for his
native Leon County. The Collins vote in Dade, Broward, and
Palm Beach counties was 155,306, compared with 53,895 for his
three adversaries. In thirty-one South Florida counties, Collins
received 61.94 per cent of the total vote. These counties cast
534,130 of the total 840,083 votes. Although the Collins percent-
age in the thirty-six North and West Florida counties was no more
than 34.2, the total vote cast there was 305,953.
Lowry was top man in twenty-six rural counties, only four of
which were in South Florida. He took 21.3 per cent of the vote,
compared with 13.1 per cent for Bryant and 11.7 per cent for
Warren. Bryant led in his native Marion County, and Warren in
his native Calhoun as well as in four others.
The real surprises of the voting were the very light vote for
Warren and the size of the vote received by Bryant. The results
in Duval County were also unexpected, with Collins receiving
38.1 per cent. Warren had been expected to do better than 20.7
in his former hometown in comparison to Bryant's 20.3 per cent
and Lowry's 19.6.12 There was considerable wonder at the heavy
majority which Collins received in Hillsborough, Lowry's home
territory, where the latter garnered only 23.3 per cent of the
vote instead of an expected majority.13
To a very great extent the Collins vote represented a rural-
urban cleavage as well as a sectional one. Collins did better than
his 34 per cent average in all but one of the North or West Flor-
9. Florida, Secretary of State, Report, 1955-56, p. 326.
10. Morris, The Florida Handbook, 1957 ed., pp. 291, 292.
11. Florida Primary Elections, comp. from official canvass by R. A. Gray,
Secretary of State.
12. Charles Hesser, "Appeal for Unity Issued by Victor," Miami News,
May 9, 1956, sec. A, p. 1.
13. Florida Times Union, May 9, 1956, p. 24.
EFFECTS OF THE PRIMARY
ida counties with large cities. However, he failed, in a number
of rural South Florida counties, to equal his 61.94 South Florida
average. In these, he did not average 50 per cent.
The importance of the segregation issue in influencing the
voting may be viewed by considering several factors. The most
significant, of course, was the 179,019 votes cast for Lowry, whose
sole issue was an all-out, last-ditch stand against integration.
The heavy vote Lowry received in North and West Florida was in
areas where Warren had won in 1948. While some of Warren's
vote there may have been alienated by the attacks on his record,
it is reasonable to assume that more of it was lost because Warren
failed to convince die-hard segregationists that he would stop
at nothing to avoid integration. Collins' percentage of the vote
in fourteen North and West Florida counties fell below even his
first primary vote in 1954, although generally an incumbent gov-
ernor could have been expected to increase his percentage
considerably in all but the two native counties of Warren and
Bryant. The huge statewide black majority for Collins was evi-
dence of the blacks' recognition of the segregation factor. In Jack-
sonville, for example, the thirteen precincts with 99 per cent black
registration gave Collins 9,920 votes compared with 307 for his
three rivals and 496 for Peasley Streets, who espoused integra-
tion.14 Similarly, in Miami, unofficial returns for the nine black
precincts gave Collins 5,945, compared to a total of 1,312 for his
adversaries. Incongruously, Lowry ran second with 709 votes.15
The election returns clearly indicated the cleavage in thought
regarding segregation between rural and urban Florida, as well as
between North Florida and the peninsula. Price, commenting on
this division in The Negro and Southern Politics, wrote, "If the
color line can only be maintained at the cost of adverse national
publicity, a weakened school system, decreased business confi-
dence, higher school bond rates and other likely results of ex-
tremist action, then that is the price that many people in North
Florida are willing to pay. South Florida, which would stand to
suffer the most from the repercussions of an extremist policy, may
not favor desegregation, but is certainly not willing to make
every sacrifice to avoid it" (pp. 95-96).
The Collins publicity emphasizing his business orientation was
14. Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, p. 100.
15. Miami Herald, May 9, 1956, sec. A, p. 2.
72 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
probably a key factor in counteracting segregation as a determi-
nant of the primary results. However, several other factors
should also be considered. Collins as the incumbent had a built-in
advantage difficult for his rivals to overcome. In a state where
the governor ordinarily may not succeed himself, the timing of
the segregation issue for this particular year was quite important.
Had Collins chosen not to run or had he been ruled ineligible,
it is questionable how decisive the business issue would have been
against the force of segregationist feeling. Collins' handsome ap-
pearance and agreeable personality are also factors that can-
not be overlooked in an era of television, especially when con-
trasted with the hard, cold image presented by Lowry. Lowry's
stand on a single plank until very late in the campaign certainly
lost him many votes. There was unquestionably a large number
of votes that went to Collins or Bryant by default from those
voters who had a strong segregationist viewpoint but a more
sophisticated political outlook, requiring more than a single-plank
governor without previous elective experience. Warren also failed
to get these votes because of his inability to impress them with his
strong segregationist stand as well as his controversial record as
governor. It is interesting to speculate on the political fate of a
young, handsome, experienced man who presented a more con-
structive approach to the other state problems but also Lowry's
attitudes on segregation.
Warren's defeat may be attributed to a number of factors be-
sides those already mentioned. Estes Kefauver's presence in the
state as he stumped against Stevenson served to remind people
of Warren's unwillingness to cooperate with his committee.16
The change in political techniques from whistle-stopping to
television lost Warren his previous advantage over other candi-
dates. The influx of new conservative urban voters who were
unreceptive to a "Cracker" politician presenting planks like dou-
bling the homestead exemption also contributed to his defeat.
Bryant's vote was considered quite impressive when his expen-
ditures of $63,000 were compared with Collins' $291,000, and
when his lack of organization and support were taken into ac-
count. It was assumed that he would be a "leading contender"
16. McDermott, "Estes Marks Gains While Fuller Falls."
17. Florida Times Union, May 20, 1956, p. 26.
EFFECTS OF THE PRIMARY
According to contemporary comment, although the primary
showed the profound impact made by the segregation issue, it
nevertheless "definitely removed Florida from the status of ex-
tremism. ."'s Ralph McGill wrote, "It was a wholesome victory
for all the South."19 Parallels were drawn between Collins' suc-
cess in Florida and the almost simultaneous defeat by Lyndon
Johnson of Governor Shivers in the Democratic national conven-
tion battle in Texas. The possibility was suggested that racial
moderates might be in the ascendancy.20
The events of the years that followed failed to justify these
views. Extremism became more and more prevalent in much of
the South. The difficulties in Little Rock and Prince Edward
County had yet to come. In Florida, the tone set by Lowry dur-
ing the campaign continued with perhaps increasing overtones
of racial bitterness. The significance, therefore, of a moderate in
the governor's mansion became increasingly greater.
The committee appointed by Collins to study ways of main-
taining segregation, with the late Judge L. L. Fabisinski of
Pensacola as chairman, prepared a series of recommendations for
action by the legislature. Collins called a special session of the
legislature in the summer of 1956 to consider these proposals,
which included a declaration of protest against the Supreme Court
and an extension of the Pupil Assignment Act of 1955 to provide
additional devices and procedures for delay.21 The latter was
passed the second day of the session with only Representative
John Orr of Dade County voting against it.22 A bill was also passed
giving the governor emergency powers to "protect peace and
tranquility."23 Bryant assumed leadership of the die-hard segre-
gationist faction in the House which attempted to pass more re-
strictive legislation. In this special session Ted David was still
Speaker of the House, controlling the machinery of that body to
a considerable extent. Bryant had successfully maneuvered to
18. Miami Herald, editorial, May 10, 1956, sec. A, p. 6.
19. Ralph McGill, "Political Story in Two States," Miami News, May 10,
1956, sec. A, p. 14.
20. Hendrix Chandler, "Collins-Johnson Parallels Drawn," Florida Times
Union, May 11, 1956, p. 22.
21. Florida House of Representatives, Journal, Special Session, 1956, July
23, 1956, p. 7.
22. Ibid., July 24, 1956, p. 8.
23. "Floridians Debate Effectiveness of New School Laws," Southern
School News 2 (September 1956): 13.
74 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
bring the previously tabled interposition resolution to the floor,
but a fifteen-minute adjournment allowed Collins to prepare an
order adjourning the entire session, preventing its passage.24
The 1957 legislature, presided over by Pork Chop Senator
Shands and Speaker Doyle Conner from rural Bradford County,
passed more extremist racial legislation. Its first act was an inter-
position resolution. Collins forwarded the resolution to Congress
along with a message condemning it, after he had publicly
branded it a "hoax."25 The legislature seriously considered a great
deal of restrictive legislation regarding segregation which Collins
threatened to veto. He finally signed a bill which was intended
to close any public school when federal troops were in the vicinity
to enforce integration. Collins justified his signature by saying,
"it is almost ridiculous to assume that any sound education could
be carried on under pressure of armed guards, and as a parent,
I would rather have my children at home."26 The 1957 legislature
passed the so-called last resort bill which would have authorized
setting up a private school system as a last resort to prevent in-
tegration. Collins vetoed the bill, calling it the "first resort of the
A conflict in attitude developed not only between the governor
and the legislature, which represented the rural minority, but
also between Collins and the state Supreme Court. Collins, once
safely elected, said in his inaugural address, "In the first place,
it will do no good whatever to defy the United States Supreme
Court. Actually, this Court is an essential institution for the
preservation of our form of government. It is little short of re-
bellion and anarchy to suggest that any state can isolate and
quarantine itself against the effect of a decision of the United
States Supreme Court."28 The Florida Supreme Court refused to
accept the Supreme Court order to admit blacks to Florida
schools, declaring a "states rights" doctrine which was reported
to be the strongest of any state court.29
24. Florida House of Representatives, Journal, August 1, 1956, pp. 154,
25. Florida Across the Threshold, State of Florida, 1955-61.
26. "Governor Collins Signs School Closing Bill," U.S. News and World
Report 43 (November 1, 1957): 20.
27. Florida House of Representatives, Journal, 1957, June 7, 1957, p. 2269.
28. "What Three Southern Governors Say About Mixing Schools," U.S.
News and World Report 42 (January 25, 1957): 114.
29. "Conflict in Florida Position," Southern School News 3 (June 1957):
EFFECTS OF THE PRIMARY
Collins spoke before the Southern Governors Conference on
"Can a Southerner Be Elected President?" He said, "The greatest
danger in the South is that our people will fail to understand the
change taking place around them. They must not forget that the
first law of nature is change, and that the second is the survival
of those who put themselves in accord with this change. This is
what our Southern leadership must recognize if it expects to be
listened to on the national scene. If the South should wrap
itself in a Confederate blanket and consume itself in racial
fervor, it would surely miss its greatest opportunity for channeling
into a wonderful future the products of change now taking place.
And we should face up to the fact that it would bury itself
politically for decades to come."30
Collins' attitude was clear enough when he concluded his in-
augural address with a quotation from the James Russell Lowell
hymn "Once to Every Man and Nation":31
New occasions teach new duties
Time makes ancient good uncouth
They must upward still and onward
Who would keep abreast of truth.
Lest it be thought that the Collins administration hastened forth
to promote integration, it should be noted that by the end of
1960, Florida had one desegregated school district out of sixty-
seven.32 This was in Dade County, in which a school on federal
property operated by the county had been desegregated. An-
other school, Orchard Villa, had been desegregated but became
in effect another black school after only fourteen white students
enrolled in September 1959. The school board installed a black
faculty and admitted several hundred black children from the
rapidly changing neighborhood. Two other black children were
assigned to previously all-white schools in Dade in September
1960. On the university graduate level, two black women were
enrolled at the University of Florida.33 A percentage of .01 of the
30. William L. Rivers, "The Fine Art of Moderation," Nation 185
(December 21, 1957): 471.
31. Quoted by Ed H. Price, Jr., in foreword to LeRoy Collins, Fore-
runners Courageous (Tallahassee: Colcade Publishers, 1971), p. xiv.
32. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Education 1961, Report, Book 2,
33. Florida Across the Threshold, p. 68.
76 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
total black population was attending desegregated Florida schools.34
There had been no violence and no gubernatorial intervention.
Some violence did occur in Tallahassee. When blacks sought
to desegregate the buses, riots developed. The governor, using
emergency powers granted him by the 1956 legislature, sus-
pended operation of the buses for eleven days and directed
strict law enforcement to prevent violence. A compromise was
reached, desegregating the buses on predominantly black runs.35
As late as 1960, there were still three counties in Florida with
no black voting registration.36 Collins took no known action to
remedy this situation.
Collins has been criticized as a hypocrite who sold himself as
a moderate to northerners while at the same time convincing
southerners of his devotion to segregation. While national maga-
zines lauded him as a leading southern moderate for his speech
to the Southern Governors Conference, Governor Faubus called
it "a great speech." A Collins critic wrote, "the Governor doesn't
sit on the fence; he runs on it"; "The NAACP has been mollified
by Governor Collins' forthright words; the White Citizens Coun-
cils can find no evidence that integration is anywhere on the
On the surface, Florida remained substantially as it had been
regarding the race situation. However, small changes were taking
place. A major factor in this change was the Governor's Advisory
Commission on Race Relations, created by the 1957 legislature
at Collins' behest. In 1960, following disturbances caused by the
first sit-in demonstrations, Collins appointed a successor biracial
committee, known as the Fowler Commission, with Cody Fowler,
former President of the American Bar Association, as its chair-
man. The commission had no enforcement powers, but with its
professional staff and prominent membership it worked behind the
scenes to ease racial tension and to prevent trouble by using the
conference table approach.38 According to one of the state's im-
portant black leaders, "the Governor's Racial Commission created
34. Education 1961.
35. Hendrix Chandler, "Gov. Collins Arises as Top Moderate," Miami
News, September 25, 1957, sec. A, p. 1.
36. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Voting 1961, Report, p. 355.
37. Both quoted in Rivers, p. 471.
38. Florida Across the Threshold, pp. 73-83.
EFFECTS OF THE PRIMARY
a racial climate in Florida that wasn't here and wouldn't have
been here without it."39
The actions that Collins did not take are as important as his
veto of the "last resort" bill, his leadership and speeches promoting
tolerance and restraint, and his establishment of the biracial com-
mission. He did not close the schools when the Orchard Villa and
Air Force base schools were desegregated. He did not act to
prevent blacks from attending the state universities. Florida
progressed in an atmosphere of calm and order while much of
the South was rocked with violence and disorder. It is difficult to
judge what would have occurred if Lowry had been elected.
Lowry, when questioned, replied, "I would not care to comment
except to state that I would have in some way carried out my
campaign pledge to the people. 'When I am elected Governor,
there will be no integration of the public schools.' "40 Perhaps
what did not happen in Florida was most significant of all.
When viewed in this light, the 1956 primary was a critical one
to the state. The decision was made to abstain from any action
which might produce disorder. A commitment was made by the
state toward an increasingly moderate racial policy from which
it could turn back only with great difficulty.
39. Interview with Father Gibson.
40. Lowry letter.
ILLUSTRATION 1.-PRIMARY EXPENDITURES
Amount spent Amount spent
in first in second
Year Candidate primary primary Total
1952 Dan McCarty* $156,239 $95,721 $251,960
Brailey Odham 72,753 84,616 157,369
Alto Adams 154,401 154,401
1954 LeRoy Collins* 178,600 143,024 321,624
Charley Johns 245,944 121,957 366,901
Brailey Odham 146,675 146,675
1956 LeRoy Collins* 291,183 291,183
Sumter Lowry 115,216 115,216
Farris Bryant 63,048 63,048
Fuller Warren 194,682 194,682
SOURCE: Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, p. 97.
ILLUSTRATION 2.-URBAN-RURAL MAP
Shaded portions show
SOURCE: Havard and Beth, The Politics of Misrepresentation, p. 15.
ILLUSTRATION 3.-MAP SHOWING COLLINS' STRENGTH
... s. O -
.. C:s : ":, ." "" : -
\ o'"" '
Price, The Negro and Southern Politics, p. 101.
84 SEGREGATION IN THE FLORIDA PRIMARY OF 1956
ILLUSTRATION 4.-TABLE OF VOTING BY COUNTIES
Farris LeRoy Sumter L. W. B. (Bill) Peaslie Fuller
Counties Bryant Collins Lowry Price Streets Warren
Alachua 3,359 5,272 2,504 73 64 1,818
Baker 494 435 1,173 14 4 690
Bay 2,066 5,166 3,632 32 11 4,018
Bradford 1,179 794 1,452 26 3 785
Brevard 1,591 5,034 1,269 16 8 512
Broward 1,731 23,858 2,994 102 67 1,848
Calhoun 95 334 461 4 5 2,439
Charlotte 220 1,366 540 14 7 284
Citrus 353 1,295 895 3 5 690
Clay 853 1,546 1,546 16 11 966
Collier 293 1,981 875 25 5 347
Columbia 1,504 1,769 2,413 21 4 1,090
Dade 7,916 112,858 18,696 1,050 2,368 13,589
De Soto 380 1,039 1,289 7 3 259
Dixie 174 335 974 13 1 347
Duval 16,996 31,761 16,391 232 816 17,221
Escambia 6,702 16,785 8,117 189 49 3,333
Flagler 274 346 500 14 2 151
Franklin 169 832 1,002 9 14 503
Gadsden 777 1,171 920 2 1,423
Gilchrist 198 169 662 4 1 257
Glades 66 408 383 3 55
Gulf 173 880 1,177 9 5 879
Hamilton 544 438 1,170 10 3 466
Hardee 460 1,442 1,629 17 2 563
Hendry 176 1,306 1,239 8 2 133
Hernando 199 810 915 2 8 1,277
Highlands 463 3,008 1,287 8 4 421
Hillshorough 5,425 35,615 14,426 181 612 5,716
Holmes 389 700 2,924 31 9 1,391
Indian River 481 2,305 463 5 7 1,010
Jackson 681 2,470 3,347 33 20 3,824
Jefferson 328 578 1,031 1 2 520
Lafayette 217 194 935 7 1 337
Lake 3,329 5,288 3,007 16 9 1,491
Lee 2,241 5,384 1,824 24 13 808
Leon 1,451 8,863 992 13 26 3,653
Levy 585 627 1,702 13 793
Liberty 83 129 770 11 5 434
Madison 1,175 771 1,789 19 7 415
Manatee 1,726 6,965 2,407 23 8 1,041
Marion 6,349 3,216 1,419 37 15 1,023
Martin 212 2,904 767 3 15 263
Monroe 462 4,371 782 122 17 837
Nassau 1,357 1,556 1,167 28 7 1,004
Okaloosa 977 3,103 4,261 53 15 1,687
Okeechobee 67 686 721 3 1 334
Orange 6,311 17,740 5,302 67 56 1,851
Osceola 845 2,084 1,256 11 6 337
Palm Beach 2,347 18,590 6,084 84 140 1,891
Pasco 495 2,905 2,484 19 19 883
Pinellas 4,027 23,710 3,649 102 83 3,155
Polk 4,153 16,752 10,676 55 52 2,963
Putnam 1,622 2,056 2,367 17 3 1,398
St. Johns 1,742 3,990 2,520 30 18 763
St. Lucie 653 4,669 1,241 22 13 1,118
Santa Rosa 757 2,133 3,483 19 10 1,367
Sarasota 601 4,512 817 48 113 510
Seminole 1,773 3,598 1,462 12 16 496
Sumter 856 796 1,782 6 3 556
Suwannee 1,074 784 2,844 7 2 511
Taylor 387 876 1,946 17 2 657
Union 237 91 468 4 2 961
Volusia 4,532 17,542 4,292 146 252 2,116
Wakulla 216 486 686 6 5 874
Walton 458 1,663 2,732 20 21 1,394
Washington 443 1,134 2,089 12 4 1,244
110,469 434,274 179,019 3,245 5,086 107,990
SOURCE: Florida Secretary of State, Florida Primary Elections 1956.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA MONOGRAPHS
1. The Whigs of Florida, 1845-1854,
by Herbert J. Doherty, Jr.
2. Austrian Catholics and the Social
Question, 1918-1933, by Alfred Dia-
3. The Siege of St. Augustine in 1702,
by Charles W. Arnade
4. New Light on Early and Medieval
Japanese Historiography, by John A.
5. The Swiss Press and Foreign Af-
fairs in World War II, by Frederick
6. The American Militia: Decade of
Decision, 1789-1800, by John K. Ma-
7. The Foundation of Jacques Mari-
tain's Political Philosophy, by Hwa
8. Latin American Population Stud-
ies, by T. Lynn Smith
9. Jacksonian Democracy on the Flor-
ida Frontier, by Arthur W. Thompson
10. Holman Versus Hughes: Exten-
sion of Australian Commonwealth
Powers, by Conrad Joyner
11. Welfare Economics and Subsidy
Programs, by Milton Z. Kafoglis
12. Tribune of the Slavophiles: Kon-
stantin Aksakov, by Edward Chmie-
13. City Managers in Politics: An
Analysis of Manager Tenure and Ter-
mination, by Gladys M. Kammerer,
Charles D. Farris, John M. DeCrove,
and Alfred B. Clubok
14. Recent Southern Economic De-
velopment as Revealed by the Chang-
ing Structure of Employment, by Ed-
gar S. Dunn, Jr.
15. Sea Power and Chilean Independ-
ence, by Donald E. Worcester
16. The Sherman Antitrust Act and
Foreign Trade, by Andre Simmons
17. The Origins of Hamilton's Fiscal
Policies, by Donald F. Swanson
18. Criminal Asylum in Anglo-Saxon
Law, by Charles H. Riggs, Jr.
19. Colonia Bar6n Hirsch, A Jewish
Agricultural Colony in Argentina, by
Morton D. Winsberg
20. Time Deposits in Present-Day
Commercial Banking, by Lawrence L.
21. The Eastern Greenland Case in
Historical Perspective, by Oscar Svar-
22. Jacksonian Democracy and the
Historians, by Alfred A. Cave
23. The Rise of the American Chem-
istry Profession, 1850-1900, by Ed-
ward H. Beardsley
24. Aymara Communities and the
Bolivian Agrarian Reform, by William
25. Conservatives in the Progressive
Era: The Taft Republicans of 1912,
by Norman M. Wilensky
26. The Anglo-Norwegian Fisheries
Case 1951 and the Changing Law
of t1 Territorial Sea, by Teruo Ko-
27. The Liquidity Structure of Firms
and Monetary Economics, by William
J. Frazer, Jr.
28. Russo-Persian Commercial Rela-
tions, 1828-1914, by Marvin L. Ent-
29. The Imperial Policy of Sir Robert
Borden, by Harold A. Wilson
30. The Association of Income and
Educational Achievement, by Roy L.
31. Relation of the People to the
Land in Southern Iraq, by Fuad Baali
32. The Price Theory of Value in
Public Finance, by Donald R.
33. The Process of Rural Develop-
ment in Latin America, by T. Lynn
34. To Be or Not to Be Existen-
tial-Psychological Perspectives on the
Self, edited by Sidney M. Jourard
35. Politics in a Mexican Community,
by Lawrence S. Graham
36. A Two-Sector Model of Economic
Growth with Technological Progress,
by Frederick Owen Goddard
37. Florida Studies in the Helping
Professions, by Arthur W. Combs
38. The Ancient Synagogues of the
Iberian Peninsula, by Don A. Halperin
39. An Estimate of Personal Wealth
in Oklahoma in 1960, by Richard
40. Congressional Oversight of Ex-
ecutive Agencies, by Thomas A. Hen-
41. Historians and Meifi Statesmen,
by Richard T. Chang
42. Welfare Economics and Peak
Load Pricing: A Theoretical Applica-
tion to Municipal Water Utility Prac-
tices, by Robert Lee Greene
Analysis in International
an Application, by Jack
44. The Sorcerer's Apprentice: The
French Scientist's Image of German
Science, 1840-1919, by Harry W.
45. Community Power Structure:
Propositional Inventory, Tests, and
Theory, by Claire W. Gilbert
46. Human Capital, Technology, and
the Role of the United States in
International Trade, by John F.
47. The Segregation Factor in the
Florida Democratic Gubernatorial
Primary of 1956, by Helen L. Jacob-
. .. ....