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Randolph, John

American, 1773 - 1833


John Randolph of Roanoke, VA was a Virginia aristocrat, statesman and orator elected to the United States Congress in 1799. He was the third son of John Randolph [1742-1775] and Frances Bland [1752-1788], and was born at "Cawsons," the Prince George County, VA, home of his mother's father Theodorick Bland. John's father left him the land on the Staunton River where Roanoke was located; John (the son) made his permanent home there from about 1810. At this time he also added "of Roanoke" to his name. In 1778 his widowed mother married St. George Tucker, with whom she had two children, Henry St. George and Nathaniel Beverley. John Randolph of Roanoke served uninterrupted in Congress from 1799 until 1813; then again in 1815, and 1819-1825; in 1825 he was elected to serve out the unexpired term of James Barbour and in 1827 he returned to the House for his last term. Randolph accepted President Jackson's appointment as minister to Russia in 1830; however his health broke down and he was forced to resign in April of 1831. Randolph's apparently suffered from a serious, but mysterious illness, of effect of which was to give him a slender and boyish appearance. In this portrait by Gilbert Stuart, painted in Washington in 1804 or 1805, Randolph was in his early thirties yet appears little more than a youth. Randolph died on 24 May 1833 and buried at Roanoke, though his remains were moved to Richmond in 1879. His estate was in litigation until 1845, over two versions of his will. The 1832 version ordered his slaves sold, but was declared void because of his mental condition at the time, in favor of the 1821 version which freed his slaves.


Bruce, William Campbell. John Randolph of Roanoke. 2 vols. New York, 1922
Dictionary of American Biography. 22 vols. New York, 1943:15: 363-367
Stokes, William E., Jr. and Francis L. Berkeley, Jr. The Papers of Randolph of Roanoke; a Preliminary Checklist of his Surviving Texts in Manuscript and in Print. Charlottesville, VA, 1950.
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 249-253

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