Meriwether Lewis Randolph

Meriwether Lewis Randolph (1810-€“1837) was the ninth child of Martha Jefferson Randolph and Thomas Mann Randolph. He was born at Monticello and named for his grandfather's secretary, the explorer Meriwether Lewis. Randolph studied law and moral and natural philosophy at the University of Virginia, 1829-€“1831, but chose to pursue a career on the western frontier. He worked briefly as a clerk for the Department of State before being appointed Secretary of the Arkansas Territory by President Andrew Jackson in February 1835, a position Randolph held through the transition to statehood. On 9 April 1835 he married Elizabeth Martin, daughter of James Glasgow Martin of Nashville, and grandniece to President Jackson. They had one son, Lewis Jackson Randolph (1836-€“1840). After his commission expired, Randolph began purchasing large tracts of land, eventually acquiring over ten thousand acres. He died of malaria in Clark County, Arkansas, on 24 September 1837, and was buried on his newly established plantation, Terre Noir.

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Possibly my favorite Jefferson grandchild. In an 1837 letter to his sister Septimia, he described his young son: "Jack is the “bulliest” boy in the state. I wish you could see him. He is the most perfect waggletail I ever saw. Restless, rolling, tumbling and never quiet or stastionary a minute at the time, and, of course, as troublesome as brat can be. His mother has no control over him, at all. He is a little afraid of me, if I growl & look grave. But then, he peers into my face, with such a quizical expression of curiosity & enquiry to ascertain if I am really angry, that my gravity is always upset. He completed, year the first, in his life, yesterday, cut his first tooth & learned to smoke on the same occasion." (original at University of Virginia, Randolph-Meikleham Family Papers, Mss 4726a)

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