Back to former Virginia governors
Colgate Whitehead Darden

Gov. Colgate Whitehead Darden

  • January 21, 1942 - January 15, 1946
  • Democratic
  • February 11, 1897
  • June 9, 1981
  • Virginia
  • University of Virginia
  • Married Constance duPont (daughter of Delaware industrialist Irenee duPont); three children
  • Representative
  • Marines, Navy
  • Criox de Guerre


COLGATE WHITEHEAD DARDEN was born near Marle Hill, Southampton County, Virginia. His education at the University of Virginia was interrupted by World War I, when he became an ambulance driver with the French Army and a member of the French Ambulance Corps before joining the aviation branch of the U.S. Navy and serving as a fighter pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps. When the war ended, he returned to school and was awarded a bachelor of arts degree from UVA and both masters and law degrees from Columbia University, after which he received a Carnegie Fellowship in international law that enabled him to study at Oxford for one year. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1930 to 1932 and was elected twice to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1933 to 1937 and again from 1939 until 1941, when he undertook a successful campaign for governor. During his gubernatorial administration, the state debt was liquidated. After leaving office, Darden remained involved in public affairs, serving as a member of the Navy Civilian Board and both vice chairman and chairman of the Navy’s Civilian Advisory Commission. He was elected Chancellor of the College of William and Mary and was president of the University of Virginia from 1947 until 1959, when he retired to private life. While with the University of Virginia, he served as U.S. Delegate to the Tenth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1955.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. F. New York: James T. White & Company.

Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1942-1946: Darden).  Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA  23219.

Salmon, Emily and Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr.  Hornbook of Virginia History. 4th ed. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1994.

William Munford Tuck Papers, 1918-1968. Younger, Edward and Moore, James Tice, eds. The Governors of Virginia, 1860-1978. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1982.

Recent Virginia Governors