Appointed by President George Washington
Edmund Randolph, the scion of the most prominent family in Virginia's capital city of Williamsburg, was born August 10, 1753. Edmund's grandfather, father, and uncle had all served as attorney general for the Virginia colony. After attending the College of William and Mary, Edmund himself went on to serve as attorney general first of Virginia, then of the newly formed federal government under the Constitution of 1787. Ironically, he detested the practice of law. It was only the first of many contradictions that plagued the life and career of Edmund Randolph.
Edmund began his law career in 1774. With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and under Randolph's prodding, influential relatives and friends wrote George Washington, successfully requesting that he make Randolph an aide. Randolph felt a particular need to prove his loyalty because although his uncle, Peyton Randolph, was a prominent, if moderate, leader in the revolutionary movement, his father was a loyalist who took Edmund's mother with him into exile in England.
Edmund served only a few months as Washington's aide. With the sudden death of his Uncle Peyton, Edmund escorted his widowed aunt back to Williamsburg and stayed on to accept ever more responsible offices. In November 1776, he became mayor of Williamsburg. He was Virginia's delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779, served as Virginia's attorney general through most of the 1780s, and succeeded Patrick Henry as governor in November 1786.
Despite Randolph's concern with state affairs, he was a vocal supporter of a stronger federal government. As governor, he headed Virginia's delegation to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and formally presented the Virginia Plan. Yet, Randolph was always an individualist who had a difficult time coordinating his views with others to form an effective coalition. He broke with Madison's Virginia Plan to support a plural executive; when that failed, he sought to limit the president to a single term. He proposed that all navigation acts require passage by two-thirds of each house rather than a simple majority. He looked to the Senate to control the
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Publication information: Book title: American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell. Contributors: Edward S. Mihalkanin - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 416.
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