Thomas Jefferson Papers

Edmund Randolph to Thomas Jefferson, 8 May 1813

From Edmund Randolph

Avon hill near Charleston Jefferson county Virginia May 8. 1813

Dear sir

Immediately upon my receipt of your request to execute a deed for Mr Mazzei’s property in Richmond, I announced my readiness to sign any instrument, which you might forward to me. Not having heard from you since, I suspect, that my letter has miscarried, and now therefore repeat it.

I am reached here sooner with letters by the way of Alexandria, than through any other channel of conveyance.

I am dear sir

with the highest respect Your friend & Serv.

Edm: Randolph

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 21 May 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

Edmund Randolph (1753–1813), attorney and public official, was the son of Virginia attorney general John Randolph (ca. 1727–1784). He studied at the College of William and Mary before reading law with his father, but the family was split during the American Revolution when his Loyalist parents moved to England. Randolph remained in Virginia with his patriot uncle Peyton Randolph. In 1775 Randolph briefly joined the Continental army as an aide to General George Washington, and the following year he became the youngest delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1776, where he helped to draft the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the new state constitution and was elected as the commonwealth’s first attorney general after independence. He served in the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1781 and as governor of Virginia, 1786–88. Randolph was a delegate to the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, where he introduced the Virginia plan for elective representation. Fearing that the executive had been made too strong, he refused to sign the final version of the new United States Constitution, but he supported the document at the Virginia Ratification Convention of 1788. Randolph served as the first United States attorney general, 1789–94, and succeeded TJ to become the second secretary of state, 1794–95. His opposition to the Jay Treaty and the probably unfounded suspicion that he had leaked sensitive information to French minister Joseph Fauchet undermined his relationship with President Washington. Randolph accordingly submitted his resignation, published a defense of his actions, and returned to practicing law in Richmond. He published an abridgment of Virginia law in 1796, successfully defended Aaron Burr during the latter’s 1807 treason trial, and in 1811 completed a history of Virginia, the surviving portions of which were first published after his death. Randolph’s final years were clouded by a massive personal debt and by declining health due to paralysis. His relationship with TJ had begun by 1774, when he took over the latter’s unfinished cases after TJ retired from the law (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; John J. Reardon, Edmund Randolph: A Biography [1974]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , esp. 1:243–4, 26:652–3, 28:565–7; John M. Hemphill II, “Edmund Randolph Assumes Thomas Jefferson’s Practice,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 67 [1959]: 170–1; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends ; Richmond Enquirer, 17 Sept. 1813).

TJ had received Randolph’s earlier, undated letter on 26 Mar. 1813 (TJ to Patrick Gibson, 29 Mar. 1813, and note).

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and P. Mazzei’s property search
  • Mazzei, Philip; Richmond property of search
  • Randolph, Edmund; and P. Mazzei’s property search
  • Randolph, Edmund; identified search
  • Randolph, Edmund; letters from search
  • Richmond, Va.; P. Mazzei’s property in search