Peyton Randolph

Peyton Randolph by John Wollaston

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
10 September 1721 in Williamsburg, Virginia
  DIED:
22 October 1775 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Buried in the chapel of the College of William and Mary.

Peyton Randolph, American lawyer and politician, was born at Tazewell Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1721, a son of Sir John Randolph (1693 – 1737), the king's attorney for Virginia. He graduated at the College of William and Mary, studied law at the Inner Temple, London, and in 1748 was appointed the king's attorney for Virginia.

Randolph wrote the Address of Remonstrance to the king in behalf of the Burgesses against the suggested stamp duties in 1764. His policy was conservative and moderate, and in May 1765 he opposed Patrick Henry's radical Stamp Act Resolutions. In 1766 he resigned as king's attorney and was succeeded by his brother John (1727 – 84). In 1769 he acted as moderator of the privately convened assembly which entered into the non-importation agreement; in May 1773 he became chairman of the first Virginia intercolonial Committee of Correspondence.

He presided over the provincial convention of August 1774, and was a member of the First Continental Congress, of which he was president from 5 September to 22 October 1774. He was re-elected for the Second Congress in March 1775, and on 10 May was again chosen to preside, though he left on the 24th to attend a meeting at Williamsburg of the Virginia Burgesses. He then returned to Congress, where John Hancock had meanwhile been made president. Randolph died of apoplexy in Philadelphia in 1775.

He was provincial grandmaster of the Masons of Virginia, and was an intimate friend of George Washington.

ADAPTED FROM:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

By 1789 many of the Federalists, particularly Hamilton, had no confidence whatsoever left in the virtue or the natural sociability of the American people as adhesive forces: to rely on such wild schemes and visionary principles, as radicals like Jefferson and Paine did, to tie the United States together, the Federalists said, was to rely on nothing. Hence Hamilton and the other Federalist leaders had to find things other than republican virtue and natural sociability to make the American people a single nation.

Tying people together, creating social cohesiveness, making a single nation out of disparate sections and communities without relying on idealistic republican adhesives — this was the preoccupation of the Federalists, and it explains much of what they did — from Washington’s proposals for building canals to Hamilton’s financial program.

Gordon S. Wood
The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States (2011)