Martha Jefferson Randolph

Martha Jefferson Randolph
Personal details
Born September 27, 1772(1772-09-27)
Monticello, Virginia
Died October 10, 1836(1836-10-10) (aged 64)
Albemarle County, Virginia, U.S.A.
Spouse(s) Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr.
Relations Thomas Jefferson and Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
Children 12 total
Occupation First Lady of Virginia
Religion Christianity
Signature

Martha Washington Jefferson Randolph (September 27, 1772 – October 10, 1836) was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, and his wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson.
She was born in Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia and was named in honor of her mother and of Martha Washington, wife of George Washington. Her nickname was Patsy. She married Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. who served as a politician at the federal and state levels, and was elected a governor of Virginia (1819–1822). They had eleven children together. Martha was very close to her father in his old age.

Contents

Early life

Tall and slim with angular features and red hair, Martha closely resembled her father, to whom she was devoted. From age 12 to 17, she lived in Paris while her father served as U.S. Minister to France. Jefferson enrolled her at Abbaye Royale de Panthemont, an exclusive convent school, after receiving assurances that Protestant students were exempt from religious instruction. After Patsy expressed a desire to convert to Catholicism and said she was considering religious orders, Jefferson quickly withdrew her and her younger sister Polly from the school.

Marriage and family

In 1790, Martha married Thomas Mann Randolph Jr., who served as Governor of Virginia from 1819 to 1822. Soon after their marriage, her father Jefferson deeded eight slaves to them from Monticello, including Molly Hemings, the eldest daughter of Mary Hemings.[1]

The couple had twelve children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood:

  • Anne Cary Randolph (1791–1826).
  • Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792–1875).
  • Ellen Wayles Randolph (1794–1795).
  • Ellen Wayles Randolph (1796–1876). Named after deceased sister. Married to Joseph Coolidge {1798-1879} {Via common ancestor John Coolidge, a cousin 10 times removed was US President Calvin Coolidge}.
  • Cornelia Jefferson Randolph (1799–1871).
  • Virginia Jefferson Randolph (1801–1882).
  • Mary Jefferson Randolph (1803–1876).
  • James Madison Randolph (1806–1834). First child born in the White House.
  • Benjamin Franklin Randolph (1808–1871).
  • Meriwether Lewis Randolph (1810–1837). His widow Elizabeth Martin remarried to Andrew Jackson Donelson, nephew of President Andrew Jackson.
  • Septimia Anne Randolph (1814–1887).
  • George Wythe Randolph (1818–1867), briefly in 1862, he was Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America.

Martha Randolph educated her children at home, likely with the help of private tutors, as most planters did. Being engrossed with the cares of her large family, she passed only a portion of her time in the White House when her father was president. She visited with her husband and children in 1802, with her sister Mary in 1803, and during the winter of 1805/06. She strongly tried to "protect" Jefferson's reputation among her children from the allegations about a relationship with Sally Hemings.

After Thomas Jefferson's retirement, Martha devoted much of her life to his declining years. She had separated from her husband, said to suffer from alcoholism and mental instability.[2] or mental illness.[3] Jefferson describes her as the "cherished companion of his youth and the nurse of his old age". Shortly before his death, he said that the "last pang of life was parting with her."[4]

She inherited Monticello from her father in 1826, as well as his many debts. After business reverses and the death of her husband, she contemplated establishing a school. She was relieved from the necessity by a donation of $10,000 each from the state legislatures of South Carolina and Virginia. Increasing financial difficulties still obligated her to sell Monticello to James T. Barclay in 1831.[5] He sold it in 1834 to Uriah P. Levy, a wealthy United States naval officer (later the first Commodore of the Navy) and Jefferson admirer. Although Levy was based in New York, his Sephardic Jewish ancestors had been resident in the South for five generations.

Martha was estranged from her husband until shortly before his death in 1828. She died at their Edgehill estate in Albemarle County, Virginia.

First Lady of the United States

She is now considered to have been First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1801 to March 3, 1809 because her father was a widower, making her the first First Lady not to be a wife of the president. She earned a reputation as an intellectual.

References

Notes

  1. ^ Gordon-Reed, Hemingses of Monticello, p. 424
  2. ^ Priscilla Hart, "The Madhouse of Colonial Williamsburg: An Interview With Shomer Zwelling", History News Network, 5 October 2009, George Mason University, accessed 7 March 2011
  3. ^ "Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson", National First Ladies Library, 2009, accessed 7 March 2011
  4. ^ Jefferson by Albert Jay Nock
  5. ^ Dr. James Turner Barclay, Minister and Missionary - Capturing Our Heritage

Sources


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