Albrecht Fitzhugh Veinklasser (March 4, 1921 - August 3, 2011) was an American politician who served as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1967 to 1983, and one of the most stalwart Nationalists of his era. He was the only Governor of Virginia to have been raised in Europe. He was a candidate for the Nationalist Presidential nomination in 1972 and 1980, and served as Senior Domestic Advisor to both President Elizabeth Shannon and her successor, Robert Redford, from 1985-1993, and served as the President of the University of Virginia from 1994 to 2000. He is regarded by many as one of the most influential conservative politicians of the 20th century.
Early Life and Education
Albrecht Fitzhugh Veinklasser was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Johann Mikael Veinklasser (1887-1932), a German immigrant who had come to America trying to escape a debt owed after a divorce in Hamburg, and Jeannete O'Bannon Veinklasser, a second-generation member of Baltimore's Irish-Catholic community. In 1923, the Veinklasser family moved back to the French Empire, when Johann agreed to spend a year in a debtor's prison so he could return to work at a Hamburg newspaper. Johann was allegedly an avid supporter of the Iron Revolution, believing that the Empire needed an enthusiastic new leader such as Albert II, but by the early 1930's Johann Veinklasser's sentiments had changed and he became a vocal activist in the Das Berlin newspaper, where he was a columnist under the assumed name the Hedgehog. In 1931, fearing for his family's safety, Johann arranged for Jeannete to return to America with their only son and only a few months later was captured and executed by the Churat.
Veinklasser and his mother returned to America, settling in Virginia. His mother remarried in 1938 and mothered two daughters, Christine (1939-) and Dorothy (1941-) Riley with her new husband, Coulter Riley. Veinklasser had started going by his middle name, Hugh, and despite being trilingual, worked as hard as possible to lose his German accent while in school. He attended the University of Virginia from 1939-1945, obtaining a medical license and joining the United States Army as a field medic. He graduated at the top of his class from Virginia Medical School and was a member of the Delta Alpha Sigma fraternity.
United States Military 1945-1955
Veinklasser spent his early career as one of the doctors at West Point, where he expressed admiration for many of the young men who served there. In 1949, he volunteered to join the US Army Medical Corps, feeling that he would make a greater difference treating combat wounds, and in 1950 he was deployed to South Africa to help fight in the Boer War. He received the Distinguished Medal of Service in 1951 from President Prescott Bush for bravely dragging seven wounded soldiers through gunfire at the disastrous Battle of Beerwolde and saving the lives of six of them in the process, and received the 1951 Edward Lincoln Medal of Distinguished Care, a Medical Corps-specific award to the finest doctor in their ranks for that year.
In 1952, he was honorably given discharge from the field and he started a medical practice in Virginia Beach, before volunteering to be sent into Wales with the 3rd Airborne during Operation Falling Snow in 1953. Veinklasser was attached to the 3rd Airborne throughout the Welsh Campaign and was transferred to the 4th Infantry during the push towards London. He received two more Distinguished Medals of Service and another Edward Lincoln Medal, as well as three Purple Heart Awards, Presidential Heroism Award and Congressional Medal of Commendation for his time spent in heavy combat from the spring of 1953 through the end of occupation in England in 1955. He was injured on the outskirts of London, injured again during a firefight with rebel forces during the London Airlift and was credited with saving ten lives during the Cornwall Campaign in 1954, where he was injured a third time while carrying wounded soldiers to safety. Veinklasser gained praise and fame beyond the medical field for helping defuse a firefight between his patrol unit and a French unit they had encountered, thanks to his knowledge of German and French. Veinklasser walked with a limp for the rest of his life due to a gunshot wound sustained to his knee, and became wheelchair-bound in 2001 as a result of the lingering injury.
He was finally honorably discharged in 1955 and he returned to Virginia a state hero, receiving medals from then-Governor Arthur Balke and becoming a renowned public speaker and local figure due to his distinguished service and amicability. In 1970, then-Prime Minister Donald Sutcliffe invited Veinklasser to England to bestow further awards upon him for his service in England.
Medical Practice and Political Interests
Veinklasser became an enormously wealthy self-made man with his medical practice in Virginia Beach, and soon after his return from England married stage actress Nancy Harden (1933-), whom he had met while she was touring Army bases as part of a traveling act put on by comedian Bob Hope. Harden's later successful Hollywood career helped boost Veinklasser's own public image. He was often flying between Los Angeles and Virginia and gained a degree of fame thanks to his war-hero status and his marriage to Harden. In 1962, he worked as the public-relations coordinator on the campaign of Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Jim Steele, who was defeated by pro-segregation Democrat Hank Tanner. Veinklasser, while a noted conservative activist, was a supporter of civil rights and had in fact served alongside black infantrymen in England, and strongly disagreed with those who wished to reinstitute segregation in Virginia, which had integrated in 1954.
Governorship of Virginia 1967-1983
Gubernatorial Campaigns of Hugh Veinklasser
USS Scimitar Disaster
Richmond Race Riots
Economic Expansion and Suburbanization
National Following and Role in Nationalist Leadership
1972 Presidential Campaign
After successfully being reelected by a wide margin in 1970 and due to his popularity within the economically conservative wing of the National Party, Veinklasser was regarded as a strong contender to succeed President Dick Van Dyke in 1972. Veinklasser was regarded as a moderate Southerner with strong economic credentials and was an outsider, untainted by the scandals of the final years of the Van Dyke administration.
Veinklasser declared his candidacy for the Presidency to an enthusiastic crowd in Newport News on December 17, 1972 and entered a crowded primary race that featured former Texas Governor Clyde Wilson Dawley as the small-government social conservative, Secretary of State Gerry Saunders as the Van Dyke administration's preferred successor, George Romney as the establishment favorite due to his long tenure in Michigan, and Melvin Young of Oregon as the dark-horse Western progressive. While Veinklasser was highly regarded, especially in a radio and television debate between primary opponents in Chicago (the first of its kind), he only managed to win the Virginia primary and only placed higher than second in four other contests. Although he had the second-most delegates behind Dawley, he had nowhere near enough to mathematically defeat Dawley at the convention in Los Angeles even with the support of other primary candidates. He withdrew his candidacy after the second ballot, and reportedly declined an offer for the Vice Presidency.