Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Character Sketch: John Randolph of Roanoke

Editor’s Note: This piece is, at times, harsh in its assessment of Randolph’s character and motives, but the anecdotes and language make it a fun read.  Randolph was eccentric, perhaps the greatest orator Virginia ever produced.  That is saying much.  He was a one man army against unconstitutional federal overreach, and as the author, Frederick William Thomas, notes spent much of his time engaged in a rear guard action of “no.”  That alone makes him valuable.  Thomas did not appreciate such intractability at the time, but in a day when Congress always says, “yes,” Randolph would be a refreshing departure from the status quo.  No doubt, he would be made a political martyr.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Randolph. (June 2).


I remember some years since to have seen John Randolph in Baltimore. I had frequently read and heard descriptions of him; and one day, as I was standing in Market, now Baltimore Street, I remarked a tall, thin, unique-looking being hurrying towards me with a quick impatient step, evidently much annoyed by a crowd of boys who were following close at his heels; not in the obstreperous mirth with which they would have followed a crazy or a drunken man, or an organgrinder and his monkey, but in the silent, curious wonder with which they would have haunted a Chinese, bedecked in full costume. I instantly knew the individual to be Randolph, from the descriptions.


  1. He's right up at the top of the list of heroes of this adopted-by-marriage, Virginian, born Tar Heel. I think maybe Abbeville Institute introduced me to him. There were real men in those days.

    1. Thanks and heads above every debater in the world today, no ifs, ands or buts. Hope all is well and you're gearing up for the Fall PATCON..........!:)