National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert
Born Cawsons, Prince George County, Virginia
Against the wave of War Hawks who swept into Congress in 1811, John Randolph of Roanoke, congressman from Virginia, stood opposed. Randolph saw war with Britain as foolhardy, driven by land hunger rather than as a defense of American sovereignty. “We have heard but one word,” Randolph accused his fellow congressmen, “like the whip-poor-will . . . Canada! Canada! Canada!” An aristocratic and eccentric man who brought his hunting dogs into the House chamber, Randolph’s colleagues feared his sharp tongue; his biting speeches proved in some ways prophetic: “Gentlemen, you have made war. You have finished the ruin of our country. And before you conquer Canada . . . the Capitol will be a ruin.” With a brief interruption, he continued to serve in Congress until 1829. He was a financially successful slaveholder who defended the necessity of slavery but freed his slaves in his will.
Grace Lambert [Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert], Princeton, N.J.; gift 1970 to NPG.