Author: Lewis F. Powell


“Re: Industrial Development in Virginia” (December 15, 1958)

In this memo, written by Lewis F. Powell Jr. on December 15, 1958, to Stuart Saunders and Harvie Wilkinson, he outlines the position of the Virginia Industrialization Group, as he saw it. Powell was a corporate lawyer and future U. S. Supreme Court justice. He was Chairman of the Richmond School Board when Virginia was defying the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. As a leader of the Virginia Industrialization Group, along with business leaders Saunders, Wilkinson, and Frank Batten, he offers arguments for why massive resistance is principally responsible for Virginia’s slowing industrial development. As a solution, he endorses the Gray Plan, the result of a governor’s commission in 1955, which proposed selective repeal of the compulsory school attendance law, establishment of pupil placement criteria, and provision of state tuition grants to students leaving desegregated schools to attend private segregated ones. He writes this memo in anticipation of a group meeting that he would miss on December 19, 1958, attended by the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.