The Education of John Randolph

The Education of John Randolph

The Education of John Randolph

The Education of John Randolph

Excerpt

This volume concerns that remarkable and eccentric character John Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833), the Virginia congressman and advocate of the rights of the slaveholding states. The scrutiny of Randolph's education, I believe, yields a sound version of his methods and his motives. He was raised according to the lights of Virginia's golden age and spent his life trying to square the lessons he had absorbed with the contrary facts of the democratic America in which he found himself. The sustained conflict Randolph experienced between his expectations and the circumstances of his adult life gave his politics energy and a theme which we would do well to understand if we wish to understand him. Randolph had a very literal mind. He never learned how to compromise. He preserved the codes and attitudes of his Anglo-Virginian upbringing intact and reacted to the world in terms of those old-fashioned home truths. Both his political ideas and his memorably dramatic advocacy of them developed from his peculiar refusal to change with the times. What commenced as a promising and brilliant career in governing stumbled over this refusal. Randolph abandoned ambition, as commonly understood, for a stance of lonely opposition. We remember him as a critic of his day. This book is about his happening to . . .

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