Nathaniel A. Barrett (born c. 1870) was the Mayor of East Lake before its annexation into Birmingham in 1910. He was later elected to a four year term as President of the Birmingham City Commission from 1917 to 1921.
Barrett was publicly endorsed in the 1917 Birmingham City Commission election by the True Americans, an anti-catholic secret society which took issue with incumbent George Ward's stance on honoring the Lord's Day. Barrett, a Baptist, had been a leader in the campaign to prohibit the showing of movies on Sundays, which Ward had voted to uphold. During the campaign Barrett labelled Ward, an Episcopalian, as a "tool of the Catholics".
Barrett, for his part, was called a "narrow, bigoted, intolerant type, thoroughly incapacitated for the big task he seeks," by the Birmingham News, which had led efforts to put experienced business leaders into office.
Barrett won the election with strong support from the recently annexed suburban communities outside the business district. He famously switched from chewing tobacco to chewing gum as he convened his first meeting of the Board of Commissioners. His first act as Mayor was to fire police chief Martin Eagan, a Catholic, and install Ku Klux Klan official Thomas Shirley in his place.
In 1920 Barrett supported a move to increase property taxes and reduce merchant's license fees by 20 percent.
Despite his interest in reforming the Birmingham Police Department, Barrett's administration was accused of being soft on vice as prostitution and gambling flourished, especially during World War I. His entire administration was replaced in the 1921 Birmingham City Commission election by a new slate of reformers headed by D. E. McLendon.
|President of Birmingham City Commission|