John Wesley Jarvis, 1780 - 14 Jan 1840
John Randolph, 2 Jun 1773 - 24 May 1833
Oil on wood
Panel: 68.6 x 55.6 x 1.3cm (27 x 21 7/8 x 1/2")
Frame: 89.9 x 77.2 x 7.6cm (35 3/8 x 30 3/8 x 3")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert
Restrictions & Rights
Born Cawsons, Prince George County, Virginia
John Randolph, who was born to an elite Virginia family and traced his ancestry to Pocahontas and John Rolf, was a stalwart advocate for states’ rights. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1799, he opposed the War of 1812 (1812–15), regarding the conflict with Britain and its allies as foolhardy and driven by land hunger rather than as a defense of American sovereignty. Randolph was an eccentric man, who brought his hunting dogs into the House chamber, and his colleagues feared his sharp tongue. With only a brief interruption, he served in Congress until 1829.
Randolph exercised enormous influence when he represented Southern planters in resisting the Missouri Compromise, which outlawed slavery in new western territories north of the 36°30’ parallel. Although he defended the institution of slavery, Randolph loathed the slave trade. On his deathbed, Randolph freed the people he had enslaved, although contradictions in his will and subsequent litigation delayed their freedom.
Grace Lambert [Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert], Princeton, N.J.; gift 1970 to NPG.