Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 121 / Number 1
Postscript to Massive Resistance: The Decline and Fall of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government
- James R. Sweeney, pp. 44–86
In 1958, Gov. J. Lindsay Almond asked the General Assembly to create a commission to assist him in defense of state rights. Neither Almond nor David J. Mays, chairman of the Commission on Constitutional Government (CCG), wanted the agency to focus its activities on court-ordered school desegregation, which had given rise to massive resistance. Instead, they desired to elevate the discussion of federal-state relations by a program of publications and curriculum development. By the mid-1960s, however, the political environment in Virginia was changing. Commission pamphlets attacking civil rights bills and Supreme Court decisions as well as congressional testimony by CCG members encountered criticism in the press and the General Assembly. In the aftermath of civil disorders during the summer of 1967, the CCG published a pamphlet calling for the use of maximum force and the training of civilian home guard units to preserve the peace. Reaction was so strong that Gov. Mills E. Godwin distanced himself from the CCG, and the 1968 General Assembly abolished the agency. Although the CCG was not part of the massive resistance legislation, the agency could not escape the circumstances of its birth. A state-funded propaganda agency seemed an anomaly in post–massive resistance Virginia.