Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Edmund Randolph (1794–1795): Secretary of State

Edmund Jennings Randolph was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, on August 10, 1753, and studied there at the College of William and Mary.

Randolph was only 23 years of age when he gained his first political experience as a delegate to the Virginia state constitutional convention in 1776. By that time, Randolph had already begun practicing law, had earned the title of clerk of the Committee on Courts and Justice from the House of Burgesses (1774), and had served as a deputy master general in the Continental Army (1775-1776). Randolph served as Virginia's attorney general from 1776 to 1786, becoming that state's governor four years later (1786-1788).

Participating in politics on the national level as well, Randolph was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1786 and was a member of the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787. In 1789, President George Washington appointed him to the post of attorney general, where he served until his resignation in 1794.

Randolph moved on to become secretary of state, serving from 1794 until 1795, at which time he left office amidst rumors of scandal that he insisted were the result of a misunderstanding. He retired from politics following his cabinet service and resumed his legal practice, becoming highly regarded in the field. Edmund Jennings Randolph died in Millwood, Virginia, on September 12, 1813.