John Randolph of Roanoke

BlogReview Posts

The Gentleman From Virginia

A review of John Randolph of Roanoke (Louisiana State University Press, 2012) by David Johnson One might assume that John Randolph of Roanoke, who may be the most singular individual in American political history, would be the subject of numerous biographies. The earliest attempt to capture something of the man was Powhatan Bouldin’s Home Reminiscences, written in 1878, a book…
John Devanny
April 8, 2024

A Fig for the Constitution

“A fig for the Constitution” if it does not protect our most basic rights was John Randolph’s nineteenth century estimation of the value of the Constitution. In 2021 his words of warning are even more applicable. What power does the Constitution have to protect the First Amendment’s guarantee to peacefully assemble and the free exercise of religion when the government…
James Ronald Kennedy
February 11, 2021
Review Posts

Jeffersonians Against Imperialism

J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power, 1966 and The Price of Empire, 1967 Robert C. Byrd, Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency, 2004 Known and celebrated as a “liberal” during the Vietnam War era, Fulbright was actually a quite independent-minded public figure.  In some respects he represented a remnant of the Southern Democratic Jeffersonian tradition, and he…
Clyde Wilson
July 30, 2019

The Place of Nathaniel Macon in Southern History

Many who are well acquainted with Southern history are almost entirely unfamiliar with the historical character of Nathaniel Macon. He is often mentioned by the best of authors as a North Carolinian, as a Georgian, or simply as a Southern Democrat. His share in the political development of the South is but vaguely known, yet every southern state has either…
William E. Dodd
June 27, 2019

Democracy vs. Aristocracy in Virginia in 1830

There is in some of our libraries a certain book which the writer of this article ventures to believe is not gener­ally as familiar as it should be to the student of politics. For himself, he chanced one day, several years ago, to blow the dust from off its time-worn binding and nine hun­dred dreary-looking pages of fine print, to…
Jeffrey R. Brackett
June 14, 2019

John Randolph of Roanoke and the Formation of a Southern Conservatism

One of the great issues of American political history is whether an authentic American conservatism exists.  This is a crucial question for Southerners, as the South is historically viewed as the most conservative of the regions of the United States. Louis Hartz, a prominent political theorist during the middle of the twentieth century, answered no, American conservatism does not exist. …
John Devanny
May 13, 2019

The Fighting Gamecock: Thomas Sumter

Thomas Sumter in his encounters with the Indian na­tions enters the pages of recorded history. He had prob­ably been present at the fall of Fort Duquesne and in the campaign across the Ohio River and had learned some­thing of the red man during this early service. In any case, he was chosen to accompany Lieutenant Henry Timberlake to treat with…
M.E. Bradford
November 1, 2017

Russell Kirk’s Southern Sensibilities: A Celebration

. .the South—alone among the civilized communities of the nine­teenth century—had hardihood sufficient for an appeal to arms against the iron new order which, a vague instinct whispered to Southerners, was inimical to the sort of humanity they knew." —Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind Certainly those south of the Mason-Dixon line expect little by way of understanding from non-natives, especially…
Alan Cornett
March 9, 2017

Tidewater Wit and Wisdom

An honest man can never be outdone in courtesy. A sensual life is a miserable life. The contempt of death makes all the miseries of life easy to us. -Taken from Seneca’s Dialogues, a primer for young men in Tidewater Virginia and Maryland   Fear God. Reverence the parents. Imitate not the wicked. Boast not in discourse of thy wit…
John Devanny
February 6, 2017
Review Posts

A Character Sketch: John Randolph of Roanoke

Editor's Note: This piece is, at times, harsh in its assessment of Randolph's character and motives, but the anecdotes and language make it a fun read.  Randolph was eccentric, perhaps the greatest orator Virginia ever produced.  That is saying much.  He was a one man army against unconstitutional federal overreach, and as the author, Frederick William Thomas, notes spent much…
Review Posts

Agrarianism and Cultural Renewal

This essay was originally printed at The Imaginative Conservative. Among the contributions to I’ll Take My Stand, Allen Tate’s “Remarks on the Southern Religion” is usually interpreted as the most acerbic, immoderate, and unusual essay in the collection. All too often the essay is read as an apologia for violence or an eccentric defense of tradition. In fact, Tate–like his…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
May 24, 2016

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XVIII

Wherever you bluebellies go you cause trouble. . . . Yankees always lie. --Clint Eastwood, “Ambush at Cimarron Pass,” 1958. For every right wing lunatic in a cabin in Idaho, there are 500 left wing lunatics with tenure at state universities. --David Burge My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee,…
Clyde Wilson
September 23, 2015

Randolph of Roanoke and the War Party, 1806-2015

Few who encounter John Randolph of Roanoke in the pages of American history ever forget that inimitable, irrepressible figure. Randolph, a son of one of the “First Families” of Virginia, was the passionate, principled champion of the rights of the States and Virginia’s way of life, and the sworn enemy of nationalism, imperialism, mercantilism, abolitionism, and various other “isms” howling…
James Rutledge Roesch
September 11, 2015

The Prophetic Sage of Roanoke

There is no more singular statesman or person in the history of American politics than John Randolph of Roanoke. Eccentric in the extreme, volatile, and often ill-tempered, this Saint Michael of the South, this scourge of corruption, was also capable of passionate attachments to his friends, his slaves, and his country, that is Virginia. The same man whose piercing gaze…
John Devanny
June 2, 2015
Review Posts

Randolph of Roanoke

This piece was originally printed in Southern Partisan magazine in 1986. Some miles beyond Charlotte Court House, in Southside Virginia, one may find his way to Roanoke Plantation, which seems almost as re­mote as it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century. From the Revolution until 1810, scarcely a white man set foot on that planta­tion.- black overseers and…
Russell Kirk
June 2, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Nullification Reconsidered

With the destructive evil of centralized power becoming every day more evident and 10th Amendment resolutions appearing in various State capitals, publication this month of the second volume of Professor W. Kirk Wood's magisterial three-volume "Nullification:A Constitutional History, 1776-1833" is serendipitous. For the first time in a half century and long past due, serious people are beginning to search for…
Clyde Wilson
June 2, 2014
Review Posts

Democracy, Liberty, Equality: Lincoln’s American Revolution

Several months ago, The American Conservative magazine reviewed Forgotten Conservatives in American History, a book I co-authored with Clyde Wilson, and one reader left an online comment about the book. Normally, I do not discuss responses to reviews, but this one caught my eye, in particular because the reader admits that they know little about conservatism yet think they are…
Brion McClanahan
May 12, 2014