Historic Germantown: Philadelphia, PA

Edmund Randolph

Attorney General
Edmund Randolph

His father, the Attorney General, taught him law in 1775. His uncle was the first president of the Continental Congress. His father-in-law was the prominent Robert Carter Nicholas. Edmund Randolph grew up surrounded with influential people, and himself became, perhaps, the most influential of them all.

Randolph was born on August 10, 1753 in Williamsburg Virginia. He attended the College of William and Mary and pursued a career in law. Randolph served as Washington's aide-de-camp in 1775. He was a delegate to the Virginia Convention the next year. Also that year he began his term as Attorney-General of Virginia. He served as a member in Congress in 1779, and as Governor of Virginia from 1786 to 1788. He was a delegate to the Annapolis Convention and later to the Constitutional Convention.

There he presented his famous Virginia Plan which was the root of much debate at the Convention. The issue was over representation in Congress. Should the number of representatives correspond to the population of the state or should each state be represented equally. Randolph participated heavily in the debate for the former until it was settled by the Connecticut Compromise. This proposed a bicameral Legislature, thus using both systems. This compromise was written as law. Randolph himself, however, did not sign the Constitution.

Randolph held correspondence with Washington while he was looking to remove to Germantown to escape the Yellow Fever epidemic. Randolph arranged to house Washington in Colonel Franks's house, and there he and the other members of Washington's cabinet met with the president during 1777. Randolph served as Washington's Attorney General and later as Secretary of State.

However, damaging references found in a captured letter by the French minister forced Randolph to resign from the latter position. He wrote A Vindication of Mr. Randolph's Resignation to try to clear his name. He died on September 12, 1813 in Virginia.

1. "Randolph, Edmund." "The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Editors Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, Inc., 1991.