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A Free Reading Passage on John Randolph for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

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John Randolph is a referenced topic in the Regions of the British Colonies topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.


John Randolph portrait

John Randolph/public domain



John Randolph, born in 1693 in Virginia, was a prominent figure in the political landscape of colonial America. Elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1734, Randolph played a crucial role in the governance and legal framework of the colony.


Randolph hailed from a distinguished family with deep roots in Virginia’s colonial aristocracy. His father, William Randolph, was a wealthy planter and influential politician. John Randolph continued the family tradition of public service, pursuing a career in law and politics. Like other wealthy gentlemen of the colonies, he was educated in England, where he trained as a lawyer.


Upon returning to Virginia, Randolph quickly became a leading legal mind and public figure. His election to the House of Burgesses, the first legislative assembly of elected representatives in North America, in 1734 marked the beginning of a notable political career. He was known for his eloquence, legal expertise, and dedication to the principles of English common law, which greatly influenced the legal systems of the colonies.


Randolph’s tenure in the House of Burgesses was marked by several important accomplishments. He worked on various legislative measures aimed at improving the colony’s infrastructure, economy, and legal system. He played a key role in codifying Virginia’s laws, helping to create a more organized and accessible legal framework for the colony.


In addition to his legislative work, Randolph served as the colony’s Attorney General from 1737 until his death in 1737. In this role, he was responsible for representing the Crown in legal matters and ensuring the enforcement of colonial laws. His legal acumen and dedication to the rule of law were instrumental in shaping Virginia’s judicial system.


Randolph’s influence extended beyond the legal and political realms. As a prominent member of Virginia’s planter class, he was deeply involved in the economic and social life of the colony. He owned extensive lands and played a key role in the tobacco economy, which was the backbone of Virginia’s prosperity. Randolph’s plantation, Tazewell Hall, became a center of social and political activity in the colony.


For the colonists, Randolph’s work helped create a more stable and structured society. His efforts to improve the legal system and infrastructure of Virginia contributed to the colony’s growth and development, benefiting many settlers.


However, Randolph’s impact on Native Americans and enslaved Africans was far more complex and often detrimental. As a colonial leader, he supported policies that facilitated the expansion of European settlements, which frequently led to the displacement and marginalization of Native American communities. The growth of the tobacco economy, in which Randolph was heavily involved, relied on the exploitation of enslaved African labor. Although Randolph and other colonial leaders provided structure and stability for European settlers, these developments came at a significant human cost for enslaved Africans.




PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON JOHN RANDOLPH

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



John Randolph Free Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video on Virginia’s House of Burgesses?





The Regions of British Colonies

Period 2

AP U.S. History





John Randolph



#JohnRandolph

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

11

0

0

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