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About John Stewart Battle
John Stewart Battle (July 11, 1890 – April 9, 1972) was an American politician and the 56th Governor of Virginia from 1950 to 1954.
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. Battle was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1929, and to the Virginia State Senate in 1934, where he served until 1949, when he resigned upon his election as governor.
Battle was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1968. In 1956, he was a candidate for the Presidential nomination, eventually losing in floor voting to former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson. 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, Battle delivered a speech to the convention that forestalled expulsion and helped prevent a split like the Democrats experienced in 1948.
After his term ended, Battle went into semi retirement in Charlottesville, Virginia, although he did practice law. Battle did harbor political ambitions, and was prepared to run for the US Senate in 1958 if the incumbent Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr., chose not to run for reelection. Former Governor (and then Congressman) William Tuck had the same ambitions, and Byrd chose 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.
Battle died in 1972, at the age of 81, and was buried in Monticello Memorial Park in Charlottesville. Battle will be remembered for his moderate civil rights record and his willingness to help fund public schools.
Battle was the father of William C. Battle, (1920–2008), a lawyer, businessmen, United States Ambassador to Australia, and president of the United States Golf Association.
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 him.