William Munford Tuck

Born near High Hill, Halifax County, Virginia, on September 28, 1896, Bill Tuck was graduated from the College of William and Mary and from Washington and Lee School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in Virginia in 1921 and began his law practice in South Boston. He served in the House of Delegates from 1924 to 1932 and in the state Senate from 1932 to 1942. In 1941 Tuck was elected Lt. Governor. His campaign for governor in 1946 has been described as the high point of the Byrd Organization machine politics when Democratic candidates for governor were machine picked and run without Democratic opposition against barely visible Republican opponents. Often jokingly labeled "most likely to secede" by his fellow Southside Democrats, Tuck was elected Governor in 1946 and used the position to disable labor unions, enact a "right to work law" in Virginia, and attempt a revolt against President Harry Truman's candidacy in Virginia. Tuck's "Anti-Truman Bill" rolled a number of proposals into one measure that would if passed allow the state Democratic convention to appoint a committee that would have the authority to instruct Virginia's Democratic electors for a candidate other than the nominee of the national convention. Tuck's bill might also have worked to keep the Democratic national ticket off the ballot in Virginia, a drastic proposal that prompted public outrage. Tuck backed away from this proposal but at the state Democratic convention in July 1948 he and other conservatives continued to call for a separately delegated committee with the freedom to throw the electors to someone other than Truman. Eventually, even this proposal fizzled out as well, when it became clear that the conservatives favorite choice, Dwight Eisenhower, would not run as a Democrat. While Byrd maintained silence in the fall campaign, Tuck made clear his disgust with "Trumanism." After his term as governor, Tuck was elected to the U. S. Congress in 1953 and won reelection until 1969 when he retired. Tuck considered the Danville protests in 1963 the work of outside agitators "who have been preaching enforced integration against the will and sound judgment of the most thoughtful people of both races." Tuck died in South Boston, Virginia, on June 9, 1983.