Date of Award

Summer 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

James R. Sweeney

Committee Member

Peter C. Stewart

Committee Member

Harold Wilson

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47N44


This study examines the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties from 1954 to 1967. By 1956, the Defenders were the most powerful segregationist organization in the state of Virginia. Dedicated to preserving segregation in Virginia, especially in regards to the state's public schools, the Defenders greatly influenced the Byrd Organization and the Virginia General Assembly on massive resistance legislation from 1954 until 1959. Some historians have suggested that the Defenders had "Complete and full control of the Political Machinery of the state" in regards to massive resistance. This thesis uses a variety of sources to provide an analytical overview of the Defenders, its members, activities, achievements and ultimate failure. Although the Defenders diminished in power and prestige quite rapidly after public schools were desegregated, they were nonetheless able to effectively control and implement the policies of massive resistance between 1954 and 1959.


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