Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.

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Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
Thomas Mann Randolph.jpg
21st Governor of Virginia
In office
December 1, 1819 – December 1, 1822
Preceded by James Patton Preston
Succeeded by James Pleasants
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 21st district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1807
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Wilson C. Nicholas
Member of Virginia House of Delegates
In office
Member of the Virginia Senate
In office
Personal details
Born (1768-10-01)October 1, 1768
Tuckahoe Plantation, Colony of Virginia, British America
Died June 20, 1828(1828-06-20) (aged 59)
Monticello, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Martha Jefferson
Children 12, including Thomas Jefferson Randolph and George W. Randolph
Alma mater College of William and Mary, University of Edinburgh
Profession Planter, soldier and politician

Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. (October 1, 1768 – June 20, 1828) was an American planter, soldier, and politician from Virginia. He served as a member of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, a Representative in the U.S. Congress, and as the 21st Governor of Virginia, from 1819–1822. He married Martha Jefferson, the oldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. They had eleven children who survived childhood. As an adult, Randolph developed alcoholism, and he and his wife separated for some time before his death.

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. was born on October 1, 1768, at Tuckahoe Plantation in the Colony of Virginia. Thomas was the first son of Thomas Mann Randolph Sr. (1741–1793) and Anne Cary Randolph (1745–1789). His siblings included older sisters: Mary Randolph (1762–1828), author of The Virginia House-Wife (1824); Cary ("Nancy") Randolph (1774–1837) wife of Gouverneur Morris, and younger sister, Virginia Randolph Cary (1786–1852), author of Letters on Female Character (1828).

He was the grandson of Archibald Cary (1721–1787) and 2 times 2nd great-grandson of William Randolph (c.1650–1711) Richard Randolph and Thomas Randolph of Tuckahoe. The Randolphs were among the First Families of Virginia.[1] Randolph was a lineal descendant of Pocahontas through his mother.[2]

Randolph received his early education from his mother and private tutors, as was customary in many planter families. He attended the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1785–1788. Though he did not graduate, he continued to study on his own and became a respected botanist.[3]

At the end of 1790, their widower father Thomas Randolph Sr., at the age of 50, married Gabriella Harvie, who was seventeen and the daughter of a neighboring planter. They had two children, a daughter who died in infancy, and a son they named Thomas Mann Randolph, as if "erasing his first son from his prior marriage."[4]

Political and military career[edit]

Elected office[edit]

Randolph served in the Virginia State Senate in 1793 and 1794; and was elected as a Republican to the Eighth and Ninth US Congresses (March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1807). During the War of 1812, he was a colonel of the Twentieth Infantry.

He was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, in 1819, 1820, and 1823–1825. He was elected and served as Governor of Virginia, 1819–1822. He was the first son-in-law of a Virginia Governor to be elected governor in his own right. As governor, he was fairly progressive, supporting canals, education, and more political representation for the ordinary people of the state; he also proposed an emancipation proposal that would have freed Virginia's slaves, but this was defeated.[5] His political career in Virginia ended in 1825, when, running for reelection to the House of Delegates from Albemarle County, Randolph finished third among as many candidates, with only the top two candidates earning election. Randolph's colleague in the previous session, William F. Gordon, received the most votes, while Charlottesville attorney Rice W. Woods finished second, garnering 215 votes to Randolph's 79.[6]

After office[edit]

Desperate for work in late 1826, Randolph applied to and obtained employment from Secretary of War James Barbour, a former governor of Virginia, as the federal member of a commission to settle a boundary dispute between Georgia and the territory of Florida.[7] The Georgia government suddenly terminated the survey on April 18, 1827,[8] and though Barbour and President John Quincy Adams considered appointing Randolph as a federal agent to deal with the Creeks,[9] such talk, and Randolph's political career, ended when Randolph virulently criticized the indifferent handling of the boundary expedition by Barbour and Secretary of State Henry Clay in Virginia newspapers.[10]

Sale of Edgehill[edit]

Randolph and his wife became estranged toward the end of his life, in part because of the stress created by their tenuous financial situation. After inheriting his father's debts upon his death, Randolph had struggled to provide for his younger siblings in addition to his own growing family. The Virginian economic situation suffered several blows, and by the end of his life Randolph's lands were worth far less than they had been when he inherited them. In 1825, in desperation, the Randolphs had to sell their main property, Edgehill, along with its crops, buildings, animals, and slaves, and even this was not enough money to pay back all the family's creditors. Opposed to slavery on principal, the Randolphs attempted to keep their slaves' families together, but facing the prospect of having to disperse the community that lived on their land, Martha wrote that "The discomfort of slavery I have borne all my life, but it's sorrows in all their bitterness I had never before conceived."[11]

The loss of his property was humiliating for Randolph, since in Virginian society at that time men had to own a certain amount of land before being allowed to hold office or even to vote. Randolph, who had always had a temper, became increasingly angry toward his wife's father, his sons, and Martha herself, feeling that they did not do enough to save Edgehill but focused on saving Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, instead. Monticello was also in danger of being sold due to debts and the poor economy, but most members of the family believed that it would provide a better chance for them than would the more heavily encumbered Edgehill property. At times Randolph became irrational, and his angry outbursts caused all his adult children to distance themselves from him. He left Martha and their younger children at Monticello with her father, Thomas Jefferson, and lived alone for several years. After Jefferson's death, Martha Randolph moved with her two youngest children to Boston to gain distance from her husband, and to spend time with her older daughter. Randolph and his wife were reconciled shortly before his death, and he was cared for at Monticello. Randolph died there and was interred in the Jefferson family burial ground.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1790, Randolph married Martha Washington Jefferson (1772–1836), daughter of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) and his wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (1748–1782). They were parents to twelve children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood: Anne Cary Randolph, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Ellen Wayles Randolph (named after a deceased older girl), Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, Virginia Jefferson Randolph, Mary Jefferson Randolph, James Madison Randolph, Benjamin Franklin Randolph, Meriwether Lewis Randolph, Septimia Anne Randolph, and George Wythe Randolph.

Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. died on June 20, 1828.


  1. ^ Glenn, Thomas Allen, ed. (1898). "The Randolphs: Randolph Genealogy". Some Colonial Mansions: And Those Who Lived In Them : With Genealogies Of The Various Families Mentioned. 1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Henry T. Coates & Company. pp. 430–459. 
  2. ^ Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272. 
  3. ^ "Thomas Mann Randolph". Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  4. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008, p. 427
  5. ^ Kierner, Cynthia A. (2012). Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8078-3552-4. 
  6. ^ Gaines, William H. Jr. Thomas Mann Randolph: Jefferson's Son-in-Law. Baton Rouge, LA.: Louisiana State University Press, 1966, p. 155.
  7. ^ Gaines, Thomas Mann Randolph, pp. 166–67.
  8. ^ Gaines, Thomas Mann Randolph, pp. 173, 173n.
  9. ^ Gaines, Thomas Mann Randolph, pp. 173–74.
  10. ^ Gaines, Thomas Mann Randolph, pp. 175–76.
  11. ^ "Martha J. Randolph to Ellen W.R. Coolidge, 2 August 1825". "Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters". Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  12. ^ Kierner, Cynthia A. (2012). Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 190–205; 215; 228–229. ISBN 978-0-8078-3552-4. 

External links[edit]

Archival Records

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas M. Randolph Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 21st congressional district

March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1807
Succeeded by
David S. Garland
Political offices
Preceded by
James Patton Preston
Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
James Pleasants