Ted Dalton

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Theodore Roosevelt "Ted" Dalton

Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
October 12, 1976 – October 30, 1989

Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
Preceded by Roby C. Thompson
Succeeded by Hiram Emory Widener, Jr.

Judge of United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
August 13, 1959 – October 12, 1976
Preceded by John Paul, Jr.
Succeeded by Glen Morgan Williams

Virginia State Senator
for District 21
In office
February 1944 – July 21, 1959
Preceded by Harvey B. Apperson
Succeeded by James Clinton Turk

Born July 3, 1901
Carroll County, Virginia
Died October 30, 1989 (aged 88)
Radford, Virginia
Resting place Sunrise Burial Park in Fairlawn in Pulaski County, Virginia
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Lou Turner Dalton (1907-1988)
Children John N. Dalton (nephew and adopted son)

Currell Carroll and Lodoska Vernon Martin Dalton

Alma mater College of William and Mary
(Bachelor of Arts)

William and Mary Law School (Bachelor of Laws)

Occupation Attorney

Theodore Roosevelt Dalton, known as "Ted" Dalton (July 3, 1901 – October 30, 1989), was an attorney who served as a Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of his native Virginia from 1959 to 1989. He is also described as Virginia's "Mr. Republican."


Dalton was born in Carroll County in southwestern Virginia to Currell Carroll Dalton (1866-1919) and the former Lodoska Vernon Martin (1868-1920)[1]

In 1924, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Laws two years later from the William & Mary Law School. He was engaged from 1926 to 1959 in the private practice of law in Radford, a small city in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg metropolitan area.[2] Dalton and his law partner, Richard Harding Poff (1923-2011), who was elected in 1952 as a United States Representative, were both considered in the administration of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon for appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Dalton's other law partner, James Clinton Turk (1923-2014), succeeded Dalton in the state Senate and also became a federal judge. Before his judgeship, Dalton was the Commonwealth's Attorney (district attorney) in Radford from 1928 to 1936 and a member of the Virginia State Senate from 1944 to 1959.[2]

Political career

Dalton won his first election to the state Senate as a write-in candidate in 1944 and became the leading Republican in his state during his fifteen years of service. In 1953 and 1957, Dalton ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Virginia as an opponent of the conservative Democratic "organization" formed by Harry F. Byrd, a governor and later United States Senator. Dalton pledged in both gubernatorial campaigns to end the state poll tax. Dalton's first campaign seemed to be the high point of what appeared to be a new era for the Republican Party in Virginia, with three Republicans taking U.S. House seats as Dwight D. Eisenhower carried the state in the presidential election over Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. In 1953, Dalton drew 45 percent of the general election]] vote against the Democrat Thomas Bahnson Stanley (1890-1970). A crucial issue in the campaign was Dalton's proposal to issue road bonds in contrast to the Byrd organization's "pay-as-you-go" position.[3]

In 1957, with school desegregation as an issue, Dalton polled 36.5 percent of the vote in his second gubernatorial campaign. The successful Democrat was James Lindsay Almond (1898-1986). By 1956, Byrd Democrats including Almond had responded with the policy called "Massive Resistance" to block desegregation.[4] Dalton himself had criticized the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 and proposed a pupil placement plan that would allow most schools to remain segregated[5] Dalton also wrote to President Eisenhower to urge the withdrawal of the federal troops sent to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school desegregation. In opposition to the desegregation was the Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus.[6]

Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr., a Democrat who later switched to Republican affiliation, selected Dalton to serve on the Virginia Commission for Constitutional Revision, the efforts of which led to the state Constitution of 1971. Also on the commission was the later United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., along with former governors Albertis Sydney Harrison, Jr. (1907-1995), and Colgate Sydney Harrison, Jr. (1907-1995) also served on that commission.[7]

Federal judicial service

Dalton was nominated to his judgeship by President Eisenhower. He served as Chief Judge from 1960 to 197, when he assumed senior status on October 12, 1976. President Gerald Ford nominated Glen Morgan Williams (1920-2012) as Dalton's successor, after Republican U.S. Senator William Lloyd Scott derailed the nomination of the President's first choice.[8] Dalton's service ended upon his death in Radford at the age of eighty-eight.[2]

As a federal judge, Dalton presided over litigation that continued into the 1970s to implement the Brown decision in Virginia's public schools. Dalton, for instance ordered the desegregation plan for the public schools in Roanoke, Virginia.[9]

Later years

Dalton's wife, the former Mary Lou Turner, died in September 1988, the year before his own passing. His nephew and adopted son, John N. Dalton, was elected in 1977 as the third Republican governor of the 20th century. Their next-door neighbor in Radford, Charlotte Milton Caldwell Giesen (1907-1995), became the first Republican woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1957.[3]

In 1968, Dalton was selected as an honorary member of the Order of the Coif of the law school of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Dalton also received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from his alma mater, the College of William & Mary in 1972.

Dalton died at Radford Community Hospital of complications from pneumonia. He outlived his son, John Dalton, by three years. He and his wife and son are interred at Sunrise Burial Park in Fairlawn in Pulaski County, Virginia. Dalton's personal papers are held at the College of William & Mary.


  1. Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Dalton (1901-1989) - Find A Grave Memorial
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Ted Dalton," Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, ID No. 1379726, accessed November 3, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Frank Atkinson, The Dynamic Dominion: Realignment and the Rise of Two-Party Competition in Virginia, 1945–1980 Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
  4. A Former Governor's Reflections On Massive Resistance In Virginia.
  5. Time Magazine, October 21, 1957.
  6. Eisenhower Presidential Papers, Doc#379 to Ted Dalton. Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. Retrieved on November 2, 2021.
  7. Virginia's Constitutional Experience Touches the World (archive.org), accessed November 2, 2021.
  8. Sheldon Goldman (1997). Picking Federal Judges: Lower Court Selection from Roosevelt through Reagan. Yale University Press (accessed via Google Books). ISBN 0-300-08073-5. Retrieved on November 2, 2021. 
  9. GREEN v. SCHOOL BOARD OF | 330 F.Supp. 674 (1971) | supp6741882 | Leagle.com, accessed November 3, 2021.