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MSS 81-4

Register of the Papers of A. E. Dick Howard on the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision


A. E. Dick Howard's personal papers as Executive Director of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision (1968- 1971) that revised Virginia's constitution. There is memoranda, correspondence, minutes of meetings, calendars, research materials, drafts and complete texts of all public views submitted to the Commission.

1969-1971 [Inclusive]
37 Cubic Feet

Scope & Contents

Howard's CCR papers (1968-1971) consisting of 37 boxes were donated the collection to the Archives in the summer of 1981.

The collection is generally in chronological order and is divided into seven series, reflecting divisions in the work of the Commission and in the later roles Howard played as counsel to the General Assembly and director of Virginians for the Constitution. <emph render="bold">Series I</em>, Howard's files as Executive Director of the CCR, contains organizational memoranda, correspondence, minutes of meetings, and calendars relating to the administration of the Commission. <emph render="bold">Series II</em> documents the workings of each of the five subcommittees and contains research memoranda and drafts of the proposed substantive revisions. Research material, <emph render="bold">Series III</em>, includes portions of other state constitutions and complete texts of all public views submitted to the Commission. <emph render="bold">Series IV</em> documents the drafting, revision, and re-writing of the CCR's Final Report. <emph render="bold">Series V</em> consists of Howard's files as Special Counsel to the 1969 Special Session of the General Assembly, and minutes of committee meetings; Howard's calendar; drafts of resolutions, bills, and proposed amendments; and correspondence relating to the Special Session. <emph render="bold">Series VI</em> is composed of Howard's personal files as Director of Virginians for the Constitution and contains promotional brochures, press releases, speaking engagement records, and correspondence pertaining to the campaign. <emph render="bold">Series VII</em> contains newspaper clippings gathered by the Virginia Press Association, which span the entire period of revision, 1968-1971; published writings of Howard relating to the revision process, as well as the Final Report and a tape recording of a radio broadcast of Virginians for the Constitution. Finally, there are numerous photographs of the Commission.

Collection Description

    Conditions Governing Access

    There are no restrictions.

    Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions.

    Preferred Citation

    Papers of A. E. Dick Howard for the Virginia Commission for Constitutional Revision, 1969-1971, MSS 81-4, Box Number, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library.

    Biographical / Historical

    These files contain University of Virginia Law Professor A. E. Dick Howard's personal papers relating to the 1968 to 1971 revision of Virginia's constitution. Former Governor Albertis Harrison appointed Howard Executive Director of the Commission on Constitutional Revision (CCR) in February 1968, and his papers document all the activities of the Commission. In the Final Report of the CCR (Box 35) is a detailed history of the Commission's work.

    After his appointment as Executive Director, Howard undertook the formidable task of organizing and administering the work of the Commission. The Commissioners themselves were highly visible legal and political figures, chosen for their stature in the Commonwealth. Following a lengthy study of recent revisions in other states, Howard proposed a plan of operation and a timetable for the work of the CCR. Dividing critical substantive areas of the revision process among five committees, Howard and the Commissioners selected five special counsels to act as directors of each committee. The counsels were chosen from the ranks of law professors at Virginia's four law schools, as well as outstanding private lawyers, and two Commissioners were assigned to each committee. Several at-large counsels provided general legal and political advice, and public views were solicited from all areas of the Commonwealth at a series of widely publicized open hearings.

    Howard assigned student researchers to each committee, delegated areas of responsibility to the committee counsel, and compiled an extensive research bibliography on constitutional revision for the use of researchers and counsel. During the summer of 1968, student researchers turned out more than one hundred detailed topical memoranda pertaining to various aspects of the revision process. Each committee met privately and, late in the summer, the full Commission began to evaluate the work of the committees and discuss proposed revisions.

    In the fall of 1968, the Executive Director began to collate the various proposals of the committees into a draft of the proposed revision. This draft was modified, re-written and organized by the Commissioners and the Executive Director, who wrote extensive commentaries on each proposed revision. By December the CCR had agreed on a full draft of its Final Report to the Governor, a completely revised constitution.

    After the CCR submitted its final report to Governor Mills Godwin in January 1969, Howard acted as Special Counsel to the Special Session of the General Assembly charged with amending the Howard-CCR Constitution in light of the CCR proposals. Virginia law required that amendments to the existing constitution be ratified by two sessions of the General Assembly, and then submitted to the people in the form of referenda. As Special Counsel, Howard interpreted the CCR proposals to the Assembly, attended committee meetings, met individually with Assembly members, provided constitutional advice, and finally re-wrote each proposed revision in terms acceptable to both houses of the General Assembly. The General Assembly formulated the proposed constitutional revisions into four amendments to the existing constitution, which were subsequently passed by the succeeding General Assembly in 1970.

    In light of the previous popular rejections of proposed revised constitutions in New York and Maryland, Governor Linwood Holton urged the formation of a privately funded organization to promote and publicize the proposed revisions. This organization, Virginians for the Constitution, a bi-partisan, broadly based coalition of concerned citizens and politicians, selected Professor Howard as its director. In this position he organized speakers' series, mailing lists, publicity campaigns, and press cooperation for the referendum. Virginians for the Constitution succeeded in its goals, for in November 1970, the voters overwhelmingly approved the revised Constitution, completing the three-year revision process.

seriesAEDH's Organizational Files
Commission on Constitutional Revision - (Univ. of Va. Members)
A.E. Dick Howard, 1969
Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision - (Presentation of Report)
seriesSubcommittee Working Papers
seriesResearch Materials--State Constitutions and Public Views (See also Series VIII)
seriesDrafts and Final Copies of the Commission's Report and Commentary
seriesAEDH's Files and Transcript Proceedings for the Special Session of the General Assembly
series"Virginians for the Constitution" Campaign Files
seriesNewspaper Clippings, Published Materials and Photographs