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Edmund Jenings Randolph


In office
January 2, 1794 – August 20, 1795
President George Washington
Preceded by Thomas Jefferson
Succeeded by Timothy Pickering

In office
September 26, 1789 – January 26, 1794
President George Washington
Preceded by None
Succeeded by William Bradford

In office
1786–1788
Preceded by Patrick Henry
Succeeded by Beverley Randolph

Born August 10, 1753(1753-08-10)
Williamsburg, Virginia
Died September 12, 1813 (aged 60)
Millwood, Virginia
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Sara Elizabeth Nicholas
Alma mater College of William and Mary
Profession Lawyer, Politician
Religion Episcopalian
Signature
Military service
Service/branch Continental Army
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War and civil war

Edmund Jenings Randolph (August 10, 1753 – September 12, 1813) was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the Secretary of State,and the first United States Attorney General.

Contents

Biography

Randolph was born on August 10, 1753 to the influential Randolph family in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was educated at the College of William and Mary. After graduation he began reading law with his father John Randolph and uncle, Peyton Randolph. In 1775, with the start of the American Revolution, Randolph's father remained a Loyalist and returned to Britain; Edmund Randolph remained in America where he joined the Continental Army as aide-de-camp to General George Washington.

Upon the death of his uncle Peyton Randolph in October of 1775 Randolph returned to Virginia to act as executor of the estate, and while there was elected as a representative to the Virginia Convention. He would go on to serve as mayor of Williamsburg, and then as the first Attorney General of the United States under the newly-formed government.

He was married on August 29, 1776 to Elizabeth Nicholas (daughter of Robert C. Nicholas), and had a total of six children, including Peyton Randolph Governor of Virginia from 1811 to 1812.

Randolph died at age 60, suffering from paralysis, September 12, 1813 while visiting the home of a friend, Nathaniel Burwell of Carter Hall, near Millwood, Virginia, in Clarke County and is buried at a nearby Burwell family cemetery "Old Chapel".[1]

Political career

Randolph was selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779, and served there to 1782. During this period he also remained in private law practice, handling numerous legal issues for George Washington among others.

Randolph was elected Governor of Virginia in 1786, that same year leading a delegation to the Annapolis Convention.

Constitutional Convention

The following year, as a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention, Randolph introduced the Virginia Plan as an outline for a new national government. He argued against importation of slaves and in favor of a strong central government, advocating a plan for three chief executives from various parts of the country. The Virginia Plan also proposed two houses, where in both of them delegates were chosen based on state population. Randolph additionally proposed, and was supported by unanimous approval by the Convention's delegates, "that a Nationally Judiciary be established" (Article III of the constitution established the federal court system).[2] The Articles of Confederation lacked a national court system for the United States.

Randolph was also a member of the "Committee of Detail" which was tasked with converting the Virginia Plan's 15 resolutions into a first draft of the Constitution. Randolph refused to sign the final document, however, believing it had insufficient checks and balances, and published an account of his objections in October 1787. He nevertheless reversed his position at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 and voted for ratification of the Constitution because eight other states had already done so, and he did not want to see Virginia left out of the new national government.

Edmund Randolph

Washington's Cabinet

Randolph was appointed as the first U.S. Attorney General in September 1789, maintaining precarious neutrality in the feud between Thomas Jefferson (of whom Randolph was a second cousin[citation needed]) and Alexander Hamilton. When Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State in 1793, Randolph succeeded him to the position. The major diplomatic initiative of his term was the Jay Treaty with Britain in 1794, but it was Hamilton who devised the plan and wrote the instructions, leaving Randolph the nominal role of signing the papers. Randolph was hostile to the resulting treaty, and almost gained Washington's ear. Near the end of his term as Secretary of State, negotiations for Pinckney's Treaty were finalized.

Resignation

A scandal involving an intercepted French message led to Randolph's resignation in August 1795. The British Navy had intercepted correspondence from the French minister, Joseph Fauchet, to the U.S. and turned it over to Washington. Washington was dismayed that the letters reflected contempt for the United States and that Randolph was primarily responsible. The letters implied that Randolph had exposed the inner debates in the cabinet to the French and told them that the Administration was hostile to France. At the very least, Elkins and McKitrick conclude, there "was something here profoundly disreputable to the government's good faith and character." Washington immediately overruled Randolph's negative advice regarding the Jay Treaty. A few days later Washington, in the presence of the entire cabinet, handed the minister's letter to Randolph and demanded he explain it. Randolph was speechless and immediately resigned. Elkins and McKitrick (pages 425-6) conclude that Randolph was not bribed by the French but "was rather a pitiable figure, possessed of some talents and surprisingly little malice, but subject to self-absorbed silliness and lapses of good sense."

After leaving the cabinet he returned to Virginia to practice law; his most famous case was that of defense counsel during Aaron Burr's trial for treason in 1807.

Notes

  1. ^ "Founding Fathers: Virginia". FindLaw Constitutional Law Center. 2008. http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/documents/fathers/virginia.html. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  2. ^ Erwin Chemerinsky. Federal Jurisdiction. New York: Aspen Publishers. 2007.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Patrick Henry
Governor of Virginia
1786 – 1787
Succeeded by
Beverley Randolph
Preceded by
Thomas Jefferson
United States Secretary of State
Served under: George Washington

January 2, 1794 – August 20, 1795
Succeeded by
Timothy Pickering
Legal offices
Preceded by
(none)
Attorney General of the United States
September 26, 1789 – January 26, 1794
Succeeded by
William Bradford

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EDMUND [JENNINGS] RANDOLPH (1753-1813), American statesman, was born on the 10th of August 17J3, at Tazewell Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia, the family seat of his grandfather, Sir John Randolph (1693-1737), and his father, John Randolph (1727-84), who (like his uncle Peyton Randolph) were king's attorneys for Virginia. Edmund graduated at the College of William and Mary, and studied law with his father, who felt bound by his oath to the king and went to England in 1775. In August-October 1775 Edmund was aide-de-camp to General Washington. In 1776 he was a member of the Virginia Convention, and was on its committee to draft a constitution. In the same year he became the first attorney-general of the state (serving until 1786). He served in the Continental Congress in 1 779 and again in 1780-82. He had a large private practice, including much legal business for General Washington. In 1786 he was a delegate to the "Annapolis convention," and in 1787-88 was governor of Virginia. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and on the 29th of May presented the "Virginia plan" (sometimes called the "Randolph plan").1 In the Convention Randolph advocated a strongly centralized government, the prohibition of the importation of slaves, and a plural executive, suggesting that there should be three executives from different parts of the country, and refused to sign the constitution because too much power over commerce was granted to a mere majority in Congress, and because no provision was made for a second convention to act after the present instrument had been referred to the states. In October 1787 he published an attack on the Constitution; but in the Virginia convention he urged its ratification, arguing that it was too late to attempt to amend it without endangering the Union, and thinking that Virginia's assent would be that of the necessary ninth state. In 1788 he refused re-election as governor, and entered the House of Delegates to work on the revision and codification of the state laws (published in 1794). In September 1789 he was appointed by President Washington first attorney-general of the United States. He worked for a revision of Ellsworth's judiciary act of 1789, and especially to relieve justices of the supreme court 1 The plan was not drafted by Randolph, but he presented it because he was governor. It called for a legislature of two branches, one chosen by the people and based on free population (or on wealth) and the other chosen by the first out of candidates nominated by the state legislatures; a majority vote only was required in each house; and Congress was to have a negative on such state legislation as seemed to the Congress to contravene the articles of the Union. There was to be, under this plan, an executive chosen by the national legislature, to be ineligible for a second term, to have general authority to execute the national laws and to have the executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation; and the executive with a convenient number of the national judiciary was to compose a Council of Revision, with a veto power on acts of the national legislature and on the national legislature's vetoes of acts of state legislatures - but the national legislature might pass bills (or vetoes of state legislation) over the action of the Council of Revision. The plan provided for a Federal judiciary, the judges to be appointed by the national legislature, to hold office during good behaviour, and to have jurisdiction over cases in admiralty and cases in which foreigners or citizens of different states were parties. The Virginia plan was opposed by the smaller states, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, which demanded equal representation in the legislature. It was too radically different from the Articles of Confederation. A draft of a constitution in Randolph's handwriting, discovered in 1887, seems to have been the report (6th August) of a Committee of Detail of five members (John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, Nathaniel Gorham, Oliver Ellsworth and James Wilson). It is reproduced in facsimile in W. M. Meigs's The Growth of the Constitution (Philadelphia, 1900). Conway, who discovered it, exaggerated its importance and thought it had been drawn by Randolph alone and before the Convention.

of the duties of circuit judges, and advocated a Federal code;: in 1791 he considered Hamilton's scheme for a national bank unconstitutional; and in 1792-93, in the case Chisolm v. Georgia before the supreme court, argued that a state might be sued by a citizen of another state. On the 2nd of January 1794 he succeeded Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state. In 1795 he wrote thirteen letters (signed "Germanicus") defending the President in his attack on the American Jacobin or democratic societies. He was the only cabinet member who opposed the ratification of the Jay treaty (his letters to the President on the subject are reprinted in The American Historical Review, vol. xii. pp. 587-599), and before it was ratified the delicate task of keeping up friendly diplomatic relations with France fell to him. Home despatches of the French minister, Joseph Fauchet, intercepted by a British man-of-war and sent to the British minister to the United States, accused Randolph of asking for money from France to influence the administration against Great Britain. Although this charge was demonstrably false, Randolph when confronted with it immediately resigned, and subsequently secured a retractation from Fauchet; he published A Vindication of Mr Randolph's Resignation (1795) and Political Truth, or Animadversions on the Past and Present State of Public Af f airs (1796). He was held personally responsible for the loss of a large sum of money during his administration of the state department, and after years of litigation was judged by an arbitrator to be indebted to the government for more than $49,000, which he paid at great sacrifice to himself. He removed to Richmond in 1803, and during his last years was a leader of the Virginia bar; in 1807 he was one of Aaron Burr's counsel. He died a Carter Hall, Millwood, Clarke county, Virginia, on the 12th of September 1813.

Moncure D. Conway, in his Omitted Chapters of History disclosed in the Life and Papers of Edmund Randolph (New York, 1888; 2nd ed., 1889), greatly exaggerates Randolph's work in the Constitutional Convention; the commoner view underrates him and makes him a "hair-splitter," and a man of no decision of character.


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Simple English

Edmund Jenings Randolph

7th Governor of Virginia
In office
1786 – 1788
Preceded by Patrick Henry
Succeeded by Beverley Randolph

In office
September 26, 1789 – January 26, 1794
President George Washington
Preceded by None
Succeeded by William Bradford

In office
January 2, 1794 – August 20, 1795
President George Washington
Preceded by Thomas Jefferson
Succeeded by Timothy Pickering

Born August 10, 1753(1753-08-10)
Williamsburg, Virginia
Died September 12, 1813 (aged 60)
Millwood, Virginia
Political party Federalist
Spouse Sara Elizabeth Nicholas
Alma mater College of William and Mary
Profession Lawyer, Politician
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Service/branch Continental Army
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War

Edmund Jenings Randolph (August 10, 1753 – September 12, 1813) was an American attorney, Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.








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