|J. Lindsay Almond, Jr.
Governor of Virginia
James Lindsay Almond, Jr., was born in
Charlottesville, Virginia, on June 15, 1898. From
a young age he showed an interest in oratory and
politics and by the time he was sixteen he was
making speeches on behalf of local political
During the First
World War, Almond served as a private in the
Students Army Training Corps at the University of
Virginia (1917-1918), after which he taught
school at Locust Grove, Virginia, (1919) and
served as the principal of Zoar High School (1921
and 1922). He graduated from the University of
Virginia School of Law in 1923, was admitted to
the Virginia Bar that same year, and worked in
private practice as a trial lawyer in Roanoke,
Virginia, until becoming an Assistant
Commonwealth's Attorney in 1930.
Almond's rise up the political ladder began
when he was an active participant in Harry F.
Byrd's successful campaign for Governor of
Virginia in 1925. He was also part of the
Democratic presidential campaigns of Al
Smith in 1928 and Franklin
Delano Roosevelt in 1932. He was rewarded for
his work with an appointment as a Judge on the
Hustings Court of the City of Roanoke in 1933.
During his tenure on the Hustings Court,
Almond fought against election fraud, illegal
liquor sales, and unequal treatment given to
whites and blacks by juries.
Almond left the Hustings Court in 1945 to run
for the U.S. House of Representatives seat
vacated by the sudden resignation of Clifton
Woodrum. He won a landslide victory and
ultimately served from January 22, 1946, to April
17, 1948. During that tenure he participated in
the debates on such major legislative efforts as
the Marshall Plan and the Taft-Hartley Act, both
of which he vigorously supported.
Almond resigned from the House when he
unexpectedly became Attorney General of Virginia
following the death of Harvey Black Apperson.
Much of his time in that office was spent
fighting against school integration.
time Almond resigned as Attorney General (on
August 28, 1957) to run for Governor, Virginia
was in the midst of a widespread effort to
maintain segregation in its public
schools. Almond won the election by pledging
to uphold what became known as the Massive
Resistance movement, and was sworn in on January
In September 1958, Almond made good on a
promise of his predecessor, Thomas B. Stanley,
when he closed schools in Charlottesville, Front
Royal, and Norfolk rather than bow to
court-ordered integration. The Virginia Supreme
Court of Appeals, however, overturned the
school-closing law on January 19, 1959, the same
day that the federal district court in Norfolk
made a similar ruling. Despite last-minute
appeals from Almond, the closed schools
reopened to an integrated student
body. By early in 1960, Almond had retreated
from his previously unyielding stance on
desegregation, and grudgingly "allowed"
schools to integrate.
Almond left the Governor's office in 1962 and
was appointed to the U.S. Court of Customs and
Patent Appeals in June 1963. He served on that
body until his death in Richmond, Virginia, on
April 15, 1986. He is interred in Evergreen
Burial Park in Roanoke.
Biographical Directory of the United
States Congress http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000163
Encyclopedia Virginia http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Almond_James_Lindsay_Jr_1898-1986
Integration Fights of 1958
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