David J. Mays

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David John Mays (November 22, 1896 - February 17, 1971)[1] was an American lawyer and writer.

He won a 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Edmund Pendleton 1721-1803 (Harvard University Press, 1952), a biography of the late 18th-century Governor of Virginia Edmund Pendleton.[2] Mays also edited two volumes of Pendleton's letters and papers.

The Virginia Bar Association elected Mays its president for the 1958-1959 term.[3]

Mays became known for participating in the strategy called Massive resistance to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education which forbade racial segregation in public schools. As a member of the Gray Commission, Mays helped draft the Stanley plan, which the Virginia legislature passed in September 1956 and Governor Thomas B. Stanley signed into law. A federal court struck down part of the plan in January 1960, and federal and state courts struck down all major elements by 1960. Mays helped write the legal briefs in Harrison v. NAACP, NAACP v. Button and Hughes v. WMCA. In 1959, Mays addressed a sub-committee of the US Senate on A Question of Intent: The States, their Schools and the 14th Amendment.[citation needed] He was also a chairman of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, a state agency that published numerous pamphlets in opposition to federal anti-discrimination legislation and in opposition to federal court action to protect Civil Rights.

The Virginia Historical Society and Library of Virginia also honored Mays.

Mays practiced law in Richmond until his death in 1971[1] and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.


  • Sketch of Judge Spencer Roane 1929, David J. Mays
  • Business Law David J. Mays, Byrd Press, Richmond Virginia, 19 September 1933
  • Edmund Pendleton, 1721-1803: A Biography ,Harvard University Press, David J. Mays, 1952
  • Edmund Pendleton, Letters and Papers David J. Mays, 1967
  • In Pursuit of Excellence: History of the University of Richmond Law School by David J. Mays (Richmond, 1970)
  • Report Of The Committee On Federal-State Relationships As Affected By Judicial Decisions Conference Of Chief Justices, Foreword by David J. Mays
  • Race Reason and Massive Resistance: The Diary of David J. Mays, 1954-1959. Edited by James R. Sweeney

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A Guide to the David John Mays Papers, 1905–1985". Virginia Historical Society. 2002. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  2. ^ "1953 Pulitzer Prizes Won By Hemingway and 'Picnic'". Milton Bracker. The New York Times. May 5, 1953. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  3. ^ ABA Journal, December 1958, page 1211.

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