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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