John Randolph (1773-1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives at various times between 1799-1833, and the Senate from 1825-1827. He was also Minister to Russia under Andrew Jackson in 1830. After serving as President Thomas Jefferson’s spokesman in the House, he broke with the president in 1805 as a result of what he saw as the dilution of traditional Jeffersonian principles. Thereafter, Randolph proclaimed himself the leader of the “Old Republicans” or “Tertium Quids”, a wing of the Democratic-Republican Party who wanted to restrict the role of the federal government. Specifically, Randolph promoted the Principles of ‘98, which said that individual states could judge the constitutionality of central government laws and decrees, and could refuse to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional.
Through the life and thought of Randolph of Roanoke, the progress of the southern mind is traced from 1776-1861, from the equalitarianism of Jefferson to the defiant conservatism of Calhoun.