LSU Press Publishes “John Randolph of Roanoke”
Book Shares Life of Consistent, Shrewd and Fierce Defender of Republicanism
BATON ROUGE – One of the most eccentric and accomplished politicians in all of American history, John Randolph (1773–1833), led a life marked by controversy. The long-serving Virginia congressman and architect of Southern conservatism grabbed headlines with his prescient comments, public brawls and clashes with every president from John Adams to Andrew Jackson. The first biography of Randolph in nearly a century, “John Randolph of Roanoke,” published this month by LSU Press, provides a full account of the powerful Virginia planter’s hard-charging life and his impact on the formation of conservative politics.
A small-government Jeffersonian in political tastes, Randolph first entered Congress in 1799. As chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, he memorably turned on President Thomas Jefferson, once and for all, in 1805, believing his fellow Virginian to have compromised his republican values. As a result, Randolph led the “Old Republicans,” a faction that sought to restrict the role of the federal government.
In this rich biography, David Johnson draws upon an impressive array of primary sources – Randolph’s letters, speeches and writings – previously unavailable to scholars. “John Randolph of Roanoke” tells the story of a young nation and the unique philosophy of a Southern lawmaker who defended America’s agrarian tradition and reveled in his own controversy.
Johnson graduated from the College of William & Mary and from the University of Richmond Law School. He serves as deputy attorney general for Health, Education & Social Services in Virginia. “John Randolph of Roanoke” is his second book. He lives in Midlothian, Va., with his wife, Holly, and three children.