Randolph, Peyton

Randolph, Peyton,

c.1721–1775, American political leader, first president of the Continental Congress, b. Williamsburg, Va. After a general education at the College of William and Mary, he studied law in England. He was prominent in Virginia after his return there, was king's attorney for Virginia (1748–66), and was long a member of the house of burgesses (1748–49, 1752–75) and its speaker (1766–75). He wrote the protest for the house against the proposed Stamp Act in 1764, but he opposed Patrick Henry's radical resolutions against it in 1765. A moderate, and a personal friend of George Washington, Randolph worked for the cause of independence, headed the Virginia conventions of 1774 and 1775, and was elected to the First Continental Congress, of which he was briefly (Sept.–Oct., 1774) president. Elected (1775) to the Second Continental Congress, he was again chosen president, but resigned because of illness.


See J. Daniels, The Randolphs of Virginia (1972).

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Randolph, Peyton

(1721–75) lawyer, statesman; born in Williamsburg, Va. He was King's attorney for Virginia from 1748 to 1766 and continuously from 1748 to 1775. Although fundamentally conservative, he supported the rising tide of colonial protest and was appointed to the first Continental Congress where he served as its first president.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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