J. Lindsay Almond

James Lindsay Almond Jr. (June 15, 1898 – April 14, 1986) was an American lawyer, state and federal judge and Democratic party politician. His political offices included as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 6th congressional district (1946-1948), 26th Attorney General of Virginia (1948-1957) and the 58th Governor of Virginia (1958-1962). As a member of the Byrd Organization, Almond initially supported Massive resistance to the integration of public schools following the United States Supreme Court decisions in Brown v. Board of Education- however, when Virginia and federal courts ruled segregation unconstitutional, Almond worked with the legislature to end massive resistance. Almond then became an associate judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (1962-1973), and after retiring, continued to serve as Senior Judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (1973-1982) and then Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit from 1982, until his death in 1986.

J. Lindsay Almond
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
In office
October 1, 1982  April 14, 1986
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals
In office
March 1, 1973  October 1, 1982
Associate Judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals
In office
October 23, 1962  March 1, 1973
Appointed byJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byAmbrose O'Connell
Succeeded byJack Miller
58th Governor of Virginia
In office
January 11, 1958  January 13, 1962
LieutenantAllie Edward Stakes Stephens
Preceded byThomas B. Stanley
Succeeded byAlbertis Harrison
26th Attorney General of Virginia
In office
February 11, 1948  August 28, 1957
GovernorWilliam M. Tuck
John S. Battle
Thomas B. Stanley
Preceded byHarvey B. Apperson
Succeeded byKenneth Cartwright Patty
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
January 22, 1946  April 17, 1948
Preceded byClifton A. Woodrum
Succeeded byClarence G. Burton
Personal details
James Lindsay Almond Jr.

(1898-06-15)June 15, 1898
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
DiedApril 14, 1986(1986-04-14) (aged 87)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Resting placeEvergreen Burial Park
Roanoke, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
EducationVirginia Tech
University of Virginia School of Law (LLB)

Early life

Almond was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and raised in Orange County, Virginia. Almond attended Virginia Tech and served as a private in the Students Army Training Corps in 1917 and 1918 in World War I. Afterwards he taught school in Locust Grove, in his native Orange County, then became a high school principal, while also studying and earned a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1923.[1]

Lawyer and state judge

Almond prosecuted criminals as assistant commonwealth attorney of Roanoke, Virginia from 1930 to 1933.

During the Great Depression, Virginia legislators elected him as a state court judge, and he served in the Hustings Court of Roanoke from 1933 to 1945. The Hustings Court handled family law matters as well as some misdemeanor offenses. In possibly his most famous case, discussed in Truevine, Judge Almond appointed what would today be called a guardian or conservator for two albino African-American men who had been abducted as children from their family's farm near Roanoke, and who toured as a sideshow attraction with the Ringling Brothers Circus for several years while only an unrelated White man received wages for them. Their mother recognized them in a photograph taken in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1936 and with the help of a local Virginia lawyer, secured both their release from the circus and damages, which unfortunately were mostly spent by their mother's second husband (who was shot during an adulterous affair). Later, they wished to return to the circus rather than stay unemployed at home, so at their and their lawyer's request, Judge Almond arranged for part of their salaries to be saved to support their retirement (four years before adoption of the Social Security Act), as well as to support their again-widowed mother, and enforced a similar arrangement when their manager took them touring with other circuses.[2]

Political career

Almond as governor.

As World War II ended, Almond ran for Congress from Virginia's 6th congressional district. Elected to the United States House of Representatives, he served in the 79th and 80th Congresses.[3]

Almond resigned his Congressional seat in 1948, when he was elected Attorney General of Virginia. He argued the state's case for segregation of public schools before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, which was consolidated with Brown v. Board of Education. Virginia lost both in 1954 and 1955.[4]

Although not a favorite of United States Senator Harry F. Byrd, Almond had demonstrated loyalty to the Byrd Organization as well as the national ticket and racial segregation. Byrd had been offended by Almond's endorsement of Martin Hutchinson for the Federal Trade Commission and had refused to endorse Almond for governor in 1953 so Thomas B. Stanley was nominated and ultimately elected. By 1956, Byrd had announced the organization's policy of massive resistance, and as attorney-general, Almond had defended what became known as the Stanley Plan despite doubts about its constitutionality. In 1957, Almond resigned as attorney general (and Stanley appointed Kenneth Cartwright Patty to fill the rest of the term) and announced early for the Democratic nomination for governor. Almond refused Byrd's offer of a position on the Virginia Supreme Court conditioned upon his endorsing Byrd's preferred nominee, Garland Gray, firmly segregationist in allegiance. Gray then withdrew from the Democratic primary, and Almond easily won the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia. His Republican opponent, Theodore Roosevelt Dalton, would have allowed racial integration of the public schools pursuant to court orders. Almond offered segregationist rhetoric in most locations and won election as Virginia's governor a month after President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to enforce a desegregation order in Little Rock, Arkansas, over the opposition of its governor, Orval Faubus.[5]

Almond took office in January 1958 for a volatile term that ended in 1962. On January 19, 1959, the Virginia Supreme Court and a three judge federal panel both found the Stanley Plan unconstitutional. Almond initially protested denouncing the federal court rulings in a fiery speech blasting "those whose purpose and design is to blend and amalgamate of the white and negro races", and citing "the livid stench of sadism, sex immorality, and juvenile pregnancy infesting the mixed schools of the District of Columbia and elsewhere", but soon called a special legislative session and announced (to Byrd's fury and that of James J. Kilpatrick, among others) that he would not resist the federal court orders. He allowed public schools in Arlington and Norfolk to desegregate peacefully by to court orders on February 5, 1959.[6] Heeding the advice of several moderates within his own party, including Senator Mosby Perrow Jr., Almond realized that opposition to desegregation was ultimately futile, as the state continued to lose in the courts. In April 1959, Almond and his lieutenant governor, Allie Edward Stakes Stephens, helped Perrow and Stuart B. Carter of Fincastle, Virginia narrowly secure passage of bills which allowed localities to determine whether to desegregate their schools.[7]

Schools in Albemarle and Warren Counties opened and followed desegregation orders, but the schools in Prince Edward County remained closed until 1963, and the tuition assistance program that supported segregation academies remained in effect until 1968 when the United States Supreme Court decided Green v. County School Board of New Kent County. Thus, except for Prince Edward County, massive resistance had been transformed into passive resistance against school desegregation.

However, Harry F. Byrd Jr. and longtime Byrd lieutenant E. Blackburn Moore defeated Almonds' request for a sales tax in 1960, which some saw as retaliation for allowing school desegregation. Stephens resigned just before year end to run for governor (following Almond's early declaration example). However, the Byrd Organization slated Albertis Harrison (the attorney general who had supported segregation and litigation against the NAACP) as their candidate. Stephens lost badly in the 1961 Democratic primary (which ended his elected career), and Byrd loyalist Mills Godwin defeated moderate Armistead Boothe for lieutenant governor, but the machine's vote totals were lower than previously. Both Harrison and Godwin won election in November, with Robert Young Button being elected attorney general.[8]

Federal judicial service

After campaigning for President John F. Kennedy in 1960, President Kennedy nominated Almond to the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals on April 16, 1962. However Senator Byrd blocked a Senate floor vote and the nomination expired without action. Almond received a recess appointment from President Kennedy on October 23, 1962, to an Associate Judge seat on the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals vacated by Associate Judge Ambrose O'Connell. He was nominated to the same position by President Kennedy on January 15, 1963. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 28, 1963, 164 days after his nomination (more than a year after the first nomination, which Byrd had said he would not block) when Senator Byrd, who was still blocking his nomination, missed a floor session.[9] Byrd's vindictiveness toward Almond eventually undermined the Byrd Organization.[10] Almond received his commission on July 3, 1963. He assumed senior status on March 1, 1973. He was reassigned by operation of law to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on October 1, 1982, pursuant to 96 Stat. 25. His service terminated on April 14, 1986, due to his death.[11]


  • 1946; Almond was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election unopposed. He was re-elected in the general election with 64.78% of the vote, defeating Republican Frank R. Angell and Socialist Ruby Mae Wilkes.
  • 1957; Almond was elected Governor of Virginia with 63.15% of the vote, defeating Republican Theodore R. Dalton and Independent C. Gilmer Brooks.

Personal life

Almond married Josephine Katherine Minter in 1925. He was a Lutheran and taught a men's bible class. He was a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner, and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi and Omicron Delta Kappa.[12]


Almond died on April 14, 1986, in Richmond, Virginia. He and his wife Josephine Minter Almond are buried in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke, Virginia, in her family's plot. The couple had no children, but had raised one of her nephews as their son.[13]


  1. "J. Lindsay Almond". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2009-9-28
  2. Beth Macy, Truevine (Little, Brown & Co., 2016) pp. 266-269, 276-279, 282-283
  3. James Lindsay Almond Jr. at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
  5. Heinemann, Ronald (1996). Harry Byrd of Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. p. 339. ISBN 0-8139-1642-9.
  6. Heinemann pp. 348-349
  7. Heinemann pp. 350-351
  8. Heinemann pp. 407-409
  9. Almond, J. Lindsay; Larry J. Hackman (1968-02-07). "J. Lindsay Almond Oral History Interview" (PDF). Oral History Project. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  10. Heinemann, p. 410
  11. James Lindsay Almond Jr. at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  12. Rich, Giles S. (1980). A brief history of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. Washington, D.C.: Published by authorization of Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States : U.S. G.P.O.
  13. "James H. Hershman Jr.,"James Lindsay Almond (1898–1986)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 1998".

Further reading

  • Beagle, Ben, and Ozzie Osbourne. J. Lindsay Almond: Virginia's Reluctant Rebel (Full Court Press, 1984).
  • Muse, Benjamin. Virginia's Massive Resistance (1961) online


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