John S. Battle

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For other people named John Battle, see John Battle (disambiguation).
John S. Battle
John S. Battle.jpg
John S. Battle in 1949 campaign poster.
56th Governor of Virginia
In office
January 18, 1950 – January 20, 1954
Lieutenant Lewis Preston Collins II
Allie Edward Stakes Stephens
Preceded by William M. Tuck
Succeeded by Thomas B. Stanley
Member of the Virginia Senate
In office
1934-1949
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
1929
Personal details
Born John Stewart Battle
(1890-07-11)July 11, 1890
New Bern, North Carolina, U.S.
Died April 9, 1972(1972-04-09) (aged 81)
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Janie Lipscombe
Children 2
Alma mater Wake Forest University (B.A.)
University of Virginia (LL.B.)
Profession Lawyer, politician

John Stewart Battle (July 11, 1890 – April 9, 1972) was an American lawyer and politician who served in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly and as the 56th Governor of Virginia (from 1950 to 1954).

Early and family life[edit]

Battle was born in 1890 in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. He earned an associate's degree from Mars Hill College (then a junior college), in North Carolina. He then earned a bachelor's degree from Wake Forest University (then college) and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

Political career[edit]

Battle won election to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1929, and was re-elected twice to the part-time position. A member of the Byrd Organization, Battle began serving in the Virginia State Senate in 1934, and that part-time service continued until 1949, when he resigned upon winning the gubernatorial election.

Battle was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1968. When the Virginia delegation was threatened with expulsion at the 1952 Democratic Party national convention for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to whomever the party nominated (U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd often disagreeing with President Harry S Truman, Battle delivered a speech to the convention that forestalled expulsion and helped prevent a split like the Democrats experienced in 1948. In 1956, Battle became the Dixiecrat candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, eventually losing in floor voting to former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson.

After his term ended in 1954, Battle went into semi retirement in Charlottesville, Virginia, although he continued to practice law, including representing the Albermarle County public schools, who faced a desegregation lawsuit by the NAACP.

Battle's political ambitions continued, despite the national spotlight on Virginia and the Massive Resistance declarations by incumbent Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. after the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1954 and 1955 in Brown v. Board of Education. Battle was prepared to run for the U.S. Senate in 1958 if Senator Byrd chose not to run for reelection. Former Governor (and then Congressman) William Tuck had similar ambitions and even more fiery rhetoric, and Byrd chose not to run again to avoid the political infighting that would result from a Battle-Tuck primary fight.

In 1959, President Eisenhower called on Battle to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, citing his moderate history on racism.

Death and Legacy[edit]

Battle died in 1972, at the age of 81, and was buried in Monticello Memorial Park in Charlottesville.

His two sons became lawyers and continued their father's public involvement: William C. Battle, (1920–2008) became United States Ambassador to Australia and president of the United States Golf Association, and John S. Battle, Jr. (1919–1997) became a Founding Trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression, as well as served two terms on the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia (1982-1990).

John S. Battle High School in Washington County, Virginia, built in 1959, bears his name. Battle Hall at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind is also named for the former governor.

Election[edit]

1949; Battle was elected Governor of Virginia with 70.43% of the vote, defeating Republican Walter Johnson and Social Democrat Clark T. Robb.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William M. Tuck
Governor of Virginia
1950–1954
Succeeded by
Thomas B. Stanley