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Edmund Randolph

Gov. Edmund Randolph

  • November 30, 1786 - December 11, 1788
  • August 10, 1753
  • September 12, 1813
  • Virginia
  • College of William and Mary
  • Married Elizabeth Nicholas; five children
  • Resigned
  • Cabinet secretary
  • Army


Born in Williamsburg, Virginia, EDMUND RANDOLPH attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. When the revolution began, he broke with his father, who was a Loyalist. He served as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, and at age twenty-three was the youngest member of the convention that adopted Virginia’s constitution in 1776. He went on to become mayor of Williamsburg and Attorney General of Virginia. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1779 and became governor of Virginia in 1786. One year later, at the opening of the federal convention in Philadelphia, Randolph presented the Virginia Plan for creating a new government-a plan that became the foundation for the U.S. Constitution. At the same time, he declined to sign the Constitution, preferring a three-man executive council to a one-man Presidency. Yet by the time of the Virginia convention for ratification, he supported the Constitution and worked to secure Virginia’s approval. He went on to be appointed the first Attorney General under President Washington and followed Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. He retired from politics in 1795 and practiced law, acting as senior counsel for Aaron Burr in his treason trial. Randolph County, Virginia (now West Virginia), formed in 1786, was named for Edmund Randolph.


Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1786-1788: Randolph). Accession 40084. Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 1. New York: James T. White & Company.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Colonial Williamsburg

U.S. Department of State

Recent Virginia Governors