|1st and 3rd President of the Continental Congress|
September 5, 1774 –October 22, 1774
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Henry Middleton|
May 10, 1775 –May 24, 1775
|Preceded by||Henry Middleton|
|Succeeded by||John Hancock|
|Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses|
|Preceded by||John Robinson|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|Born||September 10, 1721|
Colony of Virginia
|Died||October 22, 1775 54) (aged|
Province of Pennsylvania
|Resting place||Chapel of the College of William and Mary|
|Parents|| Sir John Randolph |
|Alma mater||College of William and Mary|
Peyton Randolph (September 10, 1721 – October 22, 1775) was a planter and public official from the Colony of Virginia. He served as Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, president of Virginia Conventions, and the first President of the Continental Congress.
Randolph was born in Tazewell Hall,Williamsburg, Virginia, to a prominent family. His parents were Sir John Randolph, the son of William Randolph, and Susanna Beverley, the daughter of Peter Beverley; his brother was John Randolph. Peyton Randolph was 16 when his father died.
Randolph attended the College of William & Mary, and later studied law at Middle Temple at the Inns of Court in London, becoming a member of the bar in 1743.He lived his adulthood in Williamsburg.
Randolph returned to Williamsburg and was appointed Attorney General of the Colony of Virginia the next year.
He served several terms in the Virginia House of Burgesses, beginning in 1748. It was Randolph's dual roles as attorney general and as burgess that would lead to an extraordinary conflict of interest in 1751.
The new governor, Robert Dinwiddie, had imposed a fee for the certification of land patents, which the House of Burgesses strongly objected to. The House selected Peyton Randolph to represent their cause to Crown authorities in London. In his role as attorney general, though, he was responsible for defending actions taken by the governor. Randolph left for London, over the objections of Governor Dinwiddie, and was replaced for a short time as attorney general by George Wythe. Randolph resumed his post on his return at the behest of Wythe as well as officials in London, who also recommended the Governor drop the new fee.
In 1765, Randolph found himself at odds with a freshman burgess, Patrick Henry, over the matter of a response to the Stamp Act. The House appointed Randolph to draft objections to the act, but his more conservative plan was trumped when Henry obtained passage of five of his seven Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions. This was accomplished at a meeting of the House in which most of the members were absent, and over which Randolph was presiding in the absence of the Speaker.
Randolph resigned as king's attorney (attorney general) in 1766, as fellow Burgesses elected him as their Speaker upon the death of his relative, the powerful Speaker John Robinson. Sitting as the General Court, they also appointed Randolph one of the executors (with George Wythe and Edmund Pendleton) of the former speaker's estate, which was a major financial scandal. As friction between Britain and the colonies progressed, Randolph grew to favor independence. In 1769 the House of Burgesses was dissolved by the Governor, Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt, in response to its actions against the Townshend Acts. In 1773, Randolph chaired the Virginia committee of correspondence. The next Governor, John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, also dissolved the House of Burgesses in 1774 when it showed solidarity with Boston, Massachusetts, following the Boston Port Act. Afterwards, Randolph chaired meetings of the first of five Virginia Conventions of former House members, principally at a Williamsburg tavern, which worked toward responses to the unwelcome tax measures imposed by the British government. On March 21, 1775, he was president of the Second Virginia Convention in Richmond that debated independence (the site of Patrick Henry's famous "give me liberty" speech). In April, Randolph negotiated with Lord Dunmore for gunpowder removed from the Williamsburg arsenal during the Gunpowder Incident, which was a confrontation between the Governor's forces and Virginia militia, led by Patrick Henry. The House of Burgesses was called back by Lord Dunmore one last time in June 1775 to address British Prime Minister Lord North's Conciliatory Resolution. Randolph, who was a delegate to the Continental Congress, returned to Williamsburg to take his place as Speaker. Randolph indicated that the resolution had not been sent to the Congress (it had instead been sent to each colony individually in an attempt to divide them and bypass the Continental Congress). The House of Burgesses rejected the proposal, which was also later rejected by the Continental Congress.Randolph was thus the last Speaker of the House of Burgesses (their role was replaced by the Virginia Conventions and later the House of Delegates in 1776). Randolph also served as the president of the Third Virginia Convention in July 1775, which as a legislative body elected a Committee of Safety to act as the colony's executive since Lord Dunmore had abandoned the capital and took refuge on a British warship. Edmund Pendleton would succeed Randolph as president of the later conventions.
Virginia selected Randolph as one of its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774 and 1775. Fellow delegates elected him their president (Speaker) of both the First Continental Congress (which requested that King George III repeal the Coercive Acts) as well as Second Continental Congress (which extended the Olive Branch Petition as a final attempt at reconciliation). However, Randolph fell ill during each term. Henry Middleton of South Carolina succeeded him as president from his resignation on October 22, 1774, until his return on May 10, 1775. He was again elected President of Congress, but Randolph left for Virginia four days later and was succeeded as President by John Hancock. Randolph returned as a Virginia delegate but suffered a five-hour-long fit of apoplexy and died while dining with Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia on October 22, 1775.
His remains were returned to Williamsburg and were interred at the chapel of the College of William and Mary. Because the Continental Congress assumed governmental duties for the American colonies as a whole, such as appointing ambassadors, some consider Randolph to have been the first President of the United States, even though he died before the Declaration of Independence.
The Continental Congress honored Randolph by naming one of the first naval frigates as the USS Randolph, as well by naming a fort at the junction of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers as Fort Randolph.
Randolph County, North Carolina, Randolph, Massachusetts, and Randolph County, Indiana, were named to honor the colonial statesman.
During World War II, the early Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) was named for him. Furthermore, the Peyton Randolph House in Colonial Williamsburg was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, PC, generally known as Lord Dunmore, was a Scottish peer and colonial governor in the American colonies and The Bahamas. He was the last royal governor of Virginia.
Patrick Henry was an American attorney, planter, and orator best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention (1775): "Give me liberty, or give me death!" A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.
Edmund Pendleton was a Virginia planter, politician, lawyer and judge. He served in the Virginia legislature before and during the American Revolutionary War, rising to the position of Speaker. Pendleton attended the First Continental Congress as one of Virginia's delegates alongside George Washington and Patrick Henry, and led the conventions both wherein Virginia declared independence (1776) and adopted the U.S. Constitution (1788).
The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly, the legislative body of the Colony of Virginia. With the creation of the House of Burgesses in 1642, the General Assembly, which had been established in 1619, became a bicameral institution.
George Wythe was the first American law professor, a noted classics scholar, and a Virginia judge. The first of the seven Virginia signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence, Wythe served as one of Virginia's representatives to the Continental Congress and the Philadelphia Convention. Wythe taught and was a mentor to Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Henry Clay and other men who became American leaders.
Richard Bland, sometimes referred to as Richard Bland II or Richard Bland of Jordan's Point, was an American planter and statesman from Virginia and a cousin of Thomas Jefferson. He served for many terms in the House of Burgesses, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1775.
Henry Tazewell was an American politician who was instrumental in the early government of the U.S. state of Virginia, and a United States Senator from Virginia.
St. John's Church is an Episcopal church located at 2401 East Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, United States. Formed from several earlier parishes, St. John's is the oldest church in the city of Richmond, Virginia. It was built in 1741 by William Randolph's son, Colonel Richard Randolph; the Church Hill district was named for it. It was the site of two important conventions in the period leading to the American Revolutionary War, and is famous as the location where Patrick Henry gave his memorable speech at the Second Virginia Convention, closing with the often-quoted demand, "give me liberty, or give me death!" The church is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
John Randolph was an American lawyer politician from Williamsburg in the British colony of Virginia. He served as king's attorney for Virginia from 1766 until he left for Britain at the outset of the American Revolution.
The Gunpowder Incident was a conflict early in the American Revolutionary War between Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, and militia led by Patrick Henry. On April 20, 1775, one day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Lord Dunmore ordered the removal of the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia to a Royal Navy ship.
The Virginia Conventions have been the assemblies of delegates elected for the purpose of establishing constitutions of fundamental law for the Commonwealth of Virginia superior to General Assembly legislation. Their constitutions and subsequent amendments span four centuries across the territory of modern-day Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.
The Second Virginia Convention was a meeting of the Patriot legislature of Virginia which opened at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond on March 20, 1775. Many famous people included in the writing of the Declaration of Independence were there. It was the setting for Patrick Henry's famous speech, Give me liberty, or give me death! Patrick Henry's speech persuaded many to declare war on Great Britain. In his speech, he declared that he either get freedom or die obtaining it.
The First Virginia Convention was an extralegal meeting of the House of Burgesses held in Williamsburg, Virginia from August 1–6, 1774.
The Third Virginia Convention was a meeting of the Patriot legislature of Virginia held in Richmond from July 17 to August 26, 1775.
Paul Carrington (1733–1811) was a Virginia lawyer, judge and politician. He served in the House of Burgesses before being elected a Justice of the Virginia Court of Appeals. He was a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788, and cast his vote for ratification of the United States Constitution.
Robert Carter Nicholas was an American lawyer and political figure. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, the General Assembly, and the Court of Appeals, predecessor of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Peter Beverley (1668–1728) was a Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Treasurer of Virginia. He was born in Jamestown.
Sir John Randolph was an American politician. He was a Speaker of the House of Burgesses, an Attorney General for the Colony of Virginia, and the youngest son of William Randolph and Mary Isham.
The history of Virginia in the American Revolution begins with the role the Colony of Virginia played in early dissent against the British government and culminates with the defeat of General Cornwallis by the allied forces at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, an event signaled the effective military end to the conflict. Numerous Virginians played key roles in the Revolution, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson.
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|New creation|| President of the First Continental Congress |
September 5, 1774 –October 21, 1774
(as President of the First Continental Congress)
| President of the Second Continental Congress |
May 10, 1775 –May 24, 1775
| Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses |