Cornelia Randolph1

b. 1799
     Cornelia Randolph was born in 1799.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson.1


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 44.

Charles Ray Holcombe1

b. 23 March 1917, d. 21 January 1982
     Charles Ray Holcombe was born on 23 March 1917 at Clay County, WV.1 He was the son of Daniel Webster Holcombe and Venia Idella Hardaway.1 Charles Ray Holcombe married Mary Frances Bailey. Charles Ray Holcombe died on 21 January 1982 at Dallastown, PA, at age 64.

Children of Charles Ray Holcombe and Mary Frances Bailey


  1. [S39] 1920 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  2. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 194-30-1588.
  3. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 229-76-8014.

Virginia Jefferson Randolph1

b. 1801
     Virginia Jefferson Randolph was born in 1801.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson.1


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 44.

Col. Thomas Mann Randolph1

b. 1741, d. 20 November 1793
     Col. Thomas Mann Randolph was born in 1741 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA.1 He was the son of Col. William Randolph and Maria Judith Page.1 Col. Thomas Mann Randolph married Anne Cary, daughter of Archibald Cary and Mary Randolph, on 18 November 1761 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA.1 Col. Thomas Mann Randolph married Gabriella Harvie circa 1790.2 Col. Thomas Mann Randolph died on 20 November 1793 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA.3

Children of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 3.
  2. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 32.
  3. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 38.

Betsy Hemmings

b. 1783, d. 1857
     Betsy Hemmings was born in 1783. She was the daughter of Mary Hemmings.1 Betsy Hemmings was a slave of John Wayles Eppes. Betsy Hemmings died in 1857.

from the web page by Edna Bolling Jacques on 28 Feb 2009:

The Buckingham Hemmings are descended from Betsy Hemmings, who was born a slave at Monticello in 1783. (Monticello records spell her surname with one m, but she and her descendants spell it with two m’s.) Her adult life was spent in Buckingham County, fifty miles south of Monticello, where she died in 1857, still in bondage. Betsy Hemmings is buried in Buckingham County in an elaborate grave next to her master, John Wayles Eppes, son-in-law of Thomas Jefferson and United States Senator from Virginia.

Betsy Hemmings’s mother was Mary Hemings, the oldest child of Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings, matriarch of the Hemings family, but her father was not identified. During her early years, she lived in Charlottesville with her mother and half brother Joseph at the home of Thomas Bell, a wealthy Charlottesville merchant, to whom her mother had been leased during Jefferson’s absence in Paris. During this time, Thomas Bell and Mary Hemings began a common-law relationship, resulting in two children, Robert Washington Bell and Sally Jefferson Bell.

In 1792, at Mary Hemings’s request, Thomas Jefferson sold her to Thomas Bell, an unusual action for Jefferson, considering his stated views on slave women and miscegenation: Thomas Jefferson valued breeding slave women and considered their children a contribution to profit; his position on miscegenation has been widely quoted - "The amalgamation of whites with blacks produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character, can innocently consent." Yet Mary Hemings’s request to be sold to her acknowledged common-law-husband was granted by Thomas Jefferson. Could it have been that he and Mary Hemings had a special relationship? By complying with her request, Jefferson made a public mockery of his own words.

One condition of Mary’s sale had negative consequences for Betsy. Thomas Jefferson permitted Mary to retain only two of her four children; she kept the Bell children, whom Thomas Bell freed along with Mary. But Betsy and Joseph were returned to Monticello in bondage. In 1800, Thomas Bell died leaving Mary and the Bell children a sizable inheritance, increasing their prospects for a brighter future. Perhaps their slave sister, Betsy, also envisioned a brighter future. After all, she had seen her slave mother, now known as Mary Hemings Bell, become the first Hemings to be manumitted and an owner of property on Charlottesville’s Main Street.

In 1792, when nine-year-old Betsy was returned to Monticello, she fared better than many slave children, since her Hemings family awaited her – among them, Grandmother Betty, Aunt Sally, Uncle John and numerous others. At Monticello, Betsy’s life appeared uneventful, recorded in Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book as a housemaid. But in 1797, Thomas Jefferson gave her as a wedding present to his youngest daughter Maria and her husband - also first cousin - John Wayles Eppes. Again leaving Monticello and her Hemings family, fourteen-year-old Betsy began a new life with the Eppeses in Chesterfield County. After Maria Jefferson Eppes’s death in 1804, John Wayles Eppes moved to his new plantation Millbrook, located in Buckingham County, accompanied by his young son Francis and Betsy Hemmings. Millbrook became Betsy’s permanent home and eventually her final resting-place.

It is this final resting-place that sparks the public interest in Betsy Hemmings. Why is Betsy Hemmings’s grave in the Eppes family cemetery, as opposed to the Millbrook slave cemetery, which was the custom in Buckingham County? Why is Betsy’s tombstone so elaborate, when at best most slave graves had fieldstones as markers, or none at all? How did her grave survive the racist times when blacks were brutalized and their property destroyed? Why was this seemingly insignificant Hemings slave honored with such a grave, while her famous Aunt Sally, her wealthy mother Mary, and her talented Uncle John lie in unmarked graves?

The answers to these questions are found in stories that have been passed down for generations by descendants of the Hemmings and Eppes families; former slaves from Millbrook and Chellowe plantations; my great-aunt Olive Rebecca Bolling (1847-1953); and descendants of people who lived in the vicinity of Millbrook. Probably additional information on Betsy’s life at Millbrook existed, but was lost in two Buckingham fires. In 1866, the plantation house at Millbrook was destroyed by fire, supposedly by whites angered because blacks occupied the house. Rumors have persisted that the arsonists were members of a prominent old Virginia family with blood ties to the Eppeses and Randolphs. In 1869, Buckingham County Courthouse, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1821, also burned, resulting in a loss of records.
Central to any discussion of Betsy Hemmings is the issue of paternity, hers and that of her children. Many of Betsy’s descendants have remained in Buckingham County since her lifetime, passing down their oral history from generation to generation. That oral history says that Betsy Hemmings was a daughter of Thomas Jefferson and mistress of John Wayles Eppes: Betsy’s lifestyle at Millbrook and the location of her elaborate grave corroborate her descendants oral history.

Until recent times, most historians have ignored or denied the existence of interracial plantation families. But as circumstantial evidence from the antebellum period is reevaluated and more credence given to oral history, the complexity of race relations on the plantation becomes evident. For instance, there were some slave and master families who maintained intimate relationships with each other, often spanning generations. In some of these families, first cousin marriages were common among the whites, while intimate relationships between the white and black family members were as close, if not closer. Nothing about life on the plantations should come as a surprise, since the plantations were essentially fiefdoms. Although laws governing behavior existed, planters were able to live as they pleased, unless their activities became a public issue.

Betsy Hemmings was a product of entwined black and white plantation families. Her grandmother, Betty Hemings, was owned by Francis Eppes IV, paternal great-grandfather of John Wayles Eppes and maternal grandfather of Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha. Then, as part of a dowry, Betty Hemings became the property of John Wayles, father of Martha Jefferson and John Wayles Eppes’s mother, Elizabeth. After John Wayles’s third and last wife died, Betty Hemings became his mistress. Upon her father’s death, Martha Jefferson inherited the entire Hemings family, which she brought to Monticello, but prevailing law dictated that they become the property of her husband Thomas Jefferson. The newly arrived Hemings family rapidly assumed the key household positions at Monticello, and one explanation for their ascent is that Martha Jefferson and Betty Hemings had a close relationship.

In 1782, Martha Jefferson died surrounded by her family, with Betty Hemings and her daughters in attendance, several of whom were reported to be Martha Jefferson’s half sisters. In 1783, Betsy Hemmings was born, a year when her mother Mary was thirty, Thomas Jefferson forty and Sally Hemings ten.

My first recollection of hearing about Betsy Hemmings, my great-great-grandmother, occurred when I was two years old. This memory of her is especially clear because it is forever associated with orange ice cream.

It was August 1938, and my parents and I were in Virginia to visit my great-aunt Olive (Auntie) Rebecca Bolling and attend a homecoming church service, at the Hemmings and Bolling church. Ninety-one year old Auntie still spent her summers at the family’s 1200 acre farm, which I was visiting for the first time. Although I had been told about the farm, city life did not prepare me for the new experiences that awaited me. During that visit, I touched pigs, horses, and bird dogs; saw a cow milked; rode on a horse; picked pears from the tree; tried to play the organ; and ran merrily through the fields.

One afternoon during that visit, Auntie gave me orange ice cream, which delighted me. Immediately, I asked my parents why we didn’t have orange ice cream at home. Auntie explained that perhaps the people there didn’t have the recipe, since it was very old, coming from Grandmother Bettie’s grandmother. While the ice cream was discussed, I don’t recall any mention of Betsy or Monticello. Later I would learn that Grandmother Bettie’s grandmother’s name was Betsy Hemmings and that she brought the recipe for orange ice cream from Monticello.

Children have selective memories, and I remembered that Grandmother Bettie was mentioned when the ice cream was discussed. I probably focused on her name because she had recently become a lovely vision for me. Earlier in the week, I had been taken to the Bolling cemetery and shown the graves of my ancestors, including that of Grandmother Bettie. At her grave, she was described to me as being very beautiful with long straight white hair that hung to her waist, which she wore tied back. I was also told that she rode a white horse and that Daddy’s eyes were the same color as hers – an unusual gray with a hint of blue. Auntie called them Hemmings eyes, and on that same trip, I noticed that several of my Hemmings cousins had eyes similar to Daddy’s.

Grandmother Bettie was a daughter of Betsy Hemmings’s daughter Frances. As was often the case with entwined black and white plantation families, their children had the same names. Maria Jefferson and John Wayles Eppes named their son Francis. Therefore, it was not surprising that Betsy Hemmings and John Wayles Eppes named their daughter Frances, an Eppes name, one not traditionally used by the Hemings family.

My family was always quiet about Frances, as well as Betsy. Even among ourselves cryptic expressions were sometimes used to convey information about the family, especially when children were present. Local speculation and gossip about the paternity of Betsy and her children was not something that my family welcomed. It’s difficult for present day people to appreciate the shame that many of my ancestors, black and white, felt because of the way that they were forced to live because of the Slave Laws.

Common-law relationships and illegitimate children were not a source of family pride, regardless of the esteem of the families involved. As a child, I heard about members of my family, often nameless, being discussed in hushed tones. Two distinct stories that I remember, starting from childhood, centered on cemeteries. My mischievous bachelor Uncle Philip Bolling would say, "those people couldn’t get together in life, but they sure got together in death." While Auntie, Olive Rebecca Bolling, would say, "if the cemeteries could talk, what stories they could tell." To a child these were funny words indeed, especially since the grownups always seemed amused by them. As an adult, I learned that Uncle Philip was talking about the Eppes’s family cemetery at Millbrook and Auntie was talking about our Bolling family cemetery.

There’s another old memory from Virginia. When I was around six, Daddy took me to visit an old lady, who was described to me as being a friend of my Grandmother Bettie. I remember the red dirt road that led to her house, which was on a hill. The old lady hugged me, stroked my hair and told me how much my grandmother would have loved me. This is the only recollection that I have of seeing this lady. Years later, I asked Daddy about her, but all he would say was that she was his mother’s maternal cousin. I know that he knew her name, but he wouldn’t tell me – secrets were still being kept. But he did tell me that she was white, something that had not occurred to me when I saw her, because she resembled relatives.

In 1804, when Betsy Hemmings arrived at Millbrook, she was twenty-one years old and the Millbrook nurse of Francis Eppes. In 1809, thirty-six-year old John Wayles Eppes married nineteen-year old Martha (Patsy) Jones from North Carolina. We will never know what this young bride suspected about the relationship between Betsy Hemmings and John Wayles Eppes, but eventually, she did learn the truth.

According to my oral history, the liaison between Betsy Hemmings and John Wayles Eppes began at Millbrook and lasted until his death. After his second marriage, Betsy continued officially as a nurse, this time to the second Eppes family. But her presentation and the respect that she received in the household and her community were not in keeping with a slave woman. She was known in her environs as "Mam Betsy" and to her loved ones at Millbrook as "Mammy Bessie." It was said that she had a lot of polish, something that was evident in some of her grandchildren after the Civil War, in spite of their poverty. I have been told that Betsy Hemmings wore beautiful clothes, expensive jewelry and was known as a beloved lady.

On September 15,1823, John Wayles Eppes died, almost three years before Thomas Jefferson. Patsy Eppes, a thirty-three-year old widow, was left with young children ranging in age from three to thirteen and Millbrook that was heavily in debt. After Eppes’s death, Betsy’s life at Millbrook appears to have remained unchanged. But with the deaths and burials of Betsy Hemmings and Patsy Eppes some of Millbrook’s secrets were finally revealed.

On August 20, 1857, Betsy Hemming died, thirty-four years after John Wayles Eppes. Stories have been passed down about the day that Mammy Bessie died. I’ve heard that on that day everything at Millbrook stopped and people wept and wailed in grief. Betsy was a institution at Millbrook, having been there since its inception, and there is no doubt that she was loved by the Millbrook family. The location of her grave and the inscription on her tombstone are testimony to that love. She was buried next to John Wayles Eppes with a tombstone more elaborate than his.

In 1862, Patsy Eppes died. She is not buried at Millbrook beside her husband, but at Chellowe, the plantation of her daughter Mary Eppes Bolling and her husband, Philip A. Bolling. This plantation is also located in Buckingham, not far from Millbrook. It was said that Patsy Eppes is not buried at Millbrook because of Betsy Hemmings. If this reason is correct, which I believe it is, then more questions are raised. It is difficult for me to comprehend how a widow could live for thirty-four years in close proximity to her deceased husband’s slave mistress and yet find the prospect of being buried in the same cemetery with her an anathema. Nothing makes sense, because after John Wayles Eppes’s death, one would have thought that Patsy Eppes would have sold Betsy. But perhaps she couldn’t sell her!

As has often been the case in Virginia, certain slaves were difficult to sell and an embarrassment to the community when they were put on the auction block. My Auntie told me that some of the most difficult slaves to sell were a young "white" mother with her young "white" children, since they personified the horrors of slavery. Likewise, slaves suspected of or believed to be the offsprings of prominent fathers were equally undesirable to many slave traders, because their presence on the auction block confirmed the hypocrisy and debauchery of slavery, creating an atmosphere not conducive to business.

Betsy Hemmings would have been a difficult slave to sell. For decades, rumors abounded in the community that she was a daughter of Thomas Jefferson, and her lifestyle at Millbrook did nothing to dispel these rumors. In addition, Thomas Jefferson maintained a close relationship with John Wayles Eppes and would visit Millbrook.

Since Thomas Jefferson was revered in Virginia, it would have been unthinkable to put a slave believed by many to be his daughter on the auction block. Even in those horrific times, there was a peculiar sense of honor. It’s most likely that agreements concerning Betsy’s future had been reached, but we shall never know what transpired and speculation is futile. Betsy lived a "charmed" life at Millbrook, especially when you consider the feelings of her mistress. But her powerful protectors, though deceased, still controlled her destiny. Betsy was safe at Millbrook for her entire life, and in death she was memorialized in a manner unlike any other Monticello Hemings.

Today, in a remote spot in Buckingham, the graves of Betsy Hemmings and John Wayles Eppes remain undisturbed. Their graves survived turbulent times: the Civil War, the destruction of the plantation house at Millbrook, and the racism and violence that followed Reconstruction. Present day people may say what they wish about Betsy Hemmings and John Wayles Eppes, but the legacy of their graves stands as a testimony to the bond that must have existed between them.

Whenever I think about their graves, my thoughts turn to those courageous 19th century people, who buried Betsy Hemmings next to John Wayles Eppes. What a defiant statement they made in pre-Civil War Virginia! How I marvel at their strength and wish that more people of that era had been committed to preserving the truth as opposed to erasing it. One hundred and forty-five years ago, it would have been so easy for those people to have dumped my great-great-grandmother in an unmarked grave, but they chose to do otherwise and for this I salute them.


  1. [S678] Annette Gordon-Reed, Hemingses of Monticello.

Col. William Randolph1

b. 1713, d. 1745
     Col. William Randolph was born in 1713.1,2 He was the son of Thomas Randolph and Judith Fleming.2 Col. William Randolph married Maria Judith Page in 1735 at Goochland Co., VA. Col. William Randolph died in 1745.1

Child of Col. William Randolph and Maria Judith Page


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 3.
  2. [S689] Jonathan Daniels, Randolphs of Virginia.

Mary Hemmings1

b. 1753, d. after 1834
     Mary Hemmings was born in 1753.1 She was the daughter of Elizabeth Hemmings. Mary Hemmings died after 1834.1

Child of Mary Hemmings


  1. [S678] Annette Gordon-Reed, Hemingses of Monticello.

Samuel Holcombe1

     Samuel Holcombe was the son of Ethan Allen Holcombe and Susan Hughes.2 Samuel Holcombe married Virginia Boggs.3

Child of Samuel Holcombe and Virginia Boggs


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, pages 57.1 and 229.2.
  2. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.1.
  3. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 229.2.

African Woman (?)

Child of African Woman (?) and Capt. (?) Hemmings

John Wayles1

b. 1715, d. 1773
     John Wayles was born in 1715. He married Martha Eppes. John Wayles died in 1773.

Child of John Wayles and Martha Eppes

Child of John Wayles and Elizabeth Hemmings


  1. [S678] Annette Gordon-Reed, Hemingses of Monticello.

Mary Jefferson Randolph1

b. 2 November 1803
     Mary Jefferson Randolph was born on 2 November 1803.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson.1


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 51.

Terrance Clayborn Holcombe1

b. 10 June 1849, d. 13 July 1931
     Terrance Clayborn Holcombe was born on 10 June 1849 at Clay Co., VA.1,2 He was the son of Ezekiel Holcombe and Rachel Neal.1 Terrance Clayborn Holcombe married Rebecca Dunford.2 Terrance Clayborn Holcombe married Mary Ann Humphrey circa 1890.2 Terrance Clayborn Holcombe died on 13 July 1931 at Charleston, Kanawha Co., WV, at age 82.2

Tyrance and Mary A. were enumerated in the 1900 Pleasant, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a farmer, age 49, she was 39. They had been married 10 years and she had 6 children 5 still living. Children in the household were Hannah L. 8, Peggy F. 6, Ida I. B. 5, John C. 3, and James W. R. 11 months.

Tyrance and Mary A. were again enumerated in the 1910 Pleasant federal census. He was a farmer, age 60, she was 51. They had been married 19 years and she had 8 children 6 still living. Children in the household were Louisa 19, Peggy F. 17, Rinda 16, John C. 14, William J. 11, and Mary M. 7. Apparently James W. R. died since the 1900 census.

Children of Terrance Clayborn Holcombe and Mary Ann Humphrey


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.2.
  2. [S797] Thomas Holcomb Blog, online

Ellen Wayles Randolph

b. 30 August 1794, d. 26 July 1795
     Ellen Wayles Randolph was born on 30 August 1794.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson. Ellen Wayles Randolph died on 26 July 1795.1


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 44.

Riley Holcombe1

b. February 1848, d. 1910
     Riley Holcombe was born in February 1848 at VA.1,2 He was the son of Ezekiel Holcombe and Rachel Neal.1 Riley Holcombe married Nancy Williams say 1866.3 Riley Holcombe married Mary (?) circa 1892.2 Riley Holcombe died in 1910.

Riley and Nancy were enumerated in the 1870 Pleasant, Clay Co., WV federal census. He was a farmer age 22, she was 22. The only child in the household was Rachel, 6 months. Riley and Nancy were enumerated in the 1880 Henry, Clay Co., WV federal census. He was a farmer age 32, she was 32. Children in the household were Sheldon 13, Rachel W. 10, William 8, Shelton 6, Jenette 5, Jane 4, and Elizabeth 2.

Riley and Mary were again enumerated in the Henry federal census in 1900. He was a blacksmith age 52, she was 22. The census indicated they had been married 7 years and that she had born 2 children and 1 was still living. Children in the household were Albert 19, George R. 17, Ellen 14, James F. 16 (born April 1884), Samuel S. 12, and Byrne 6. Riley and Mary were enumerated in the 1910 Pleasant, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a blacksmith age 55, she was 34. They had been married 18 years; she had born 5 children and 3 were still living. Children in the household were Burn 16, Bessie 11, and Pearl 8. Riley and Mary were not found in the 1920 census, but Byrne, Maggie, and Pearl were enumerated together in Pleasant.

Children of Riley Holcombe and Nancy Williams

Children of Riley Holcombe and Mary (?)


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.2.
  2. [S35] 1900 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  3. [S68] 1870 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  4. [S207] World War I Draft Registrations, Draft Cards unknown repository.
  5. [S781], 2 December 2014.
  6. [S363] 1910 Federal Census,.

Septima Anne Randolph

b. 3 January 1814, d. 1887
     Septima Anne Randolph was born on 3 January 1814.1 She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson. Septima Anne Randolph died in 1887.


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 94.

James Holcombe1

b. circa 1840
     James Holcombe was born circa 1840 at VA.1 He was the son of Ezekiel Holcombe and Rachel Neal.1


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.2.

Mary Elizabeth Adams

b. 1830, d. 1871
     Mary Elizabeth Adams was born in 1830. She married George Wythe Randolph, son of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson, on 10 April 1852. Mary Elizabeth Adams died in 1871.

Paschal Holcombe1

b. 15 January 1845, d. 10 February 1920
     Paschal Holcombe was born on 15 January 1845 at Nicholas Co., VA.1 He was the son of Ezekiel Holcombe and Rachel Neal.1 Paschal Holcombe married Elizabeth J. Kyle on 11 March 1865.2 Paschal Holcombe died on 10 February 1920 at age 75.3

Paschal and Elizabeth were enumerated in the 1870 Pleasant, Clay Co., WV federal census. He was a farmer, age 25, she was 24. There appear to be three children in the household but their names are illegible.

Paschal and Elizabeth were enumerated in the 1880 Henry, Clay Co., WV federal census. He was a farmer, age 35, she was 34. Children in the household were Patrick H. 14, Parley 13, Mary L. 11, Nora D. 9, Desira E. 7, Hezekiah 3, and Vergie 1.

Pascal and Elizabeth were enumerated in the 1900 Henry, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a day laborer age 55, she was 54, married 35 years; she had born 11 children and 10 were still living. Children in the household were Hesekiah 23, Vivian 21, Frances 19, Kissa 17, Juditha 13, and Duett 10

Pascal and Nancy E. were enumerated in the 1910 Pleasant, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a farmer age 70, she was 65. The only child in the household was "Juitt" 19. Nearby were Parly and Riley.

Children of Paschal Holcombe and Elizabeth J. Kyle


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.2.
  2. [S68] 1870 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  3. [S797] Thomas Holcomb Blog, online
  4. [S35] 1900 Federal Census, unknown repository address.

Jane Hollins Nicholas

b. 1798, d. 18 January 1871
     Jane Hollins Nicholas was born in 1798. She married Thomas Jefferson Randolph, son of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson, on 6 March 1815 at Warren. Jane Hollins Nicholas died on 18 January 1871.

The couple lived for a brief time at Monticello before relocating to Thomas Jefferson's Tufton farm, and finally took possession of Randolph’s father’s Edgehill estate in 1825. They had 13 children, 12 of whom lived to adulthood. To ease the family’s financial difficulties, Jane founded the Edgehill School. With the help of her mother- and sisters-in law, and later three of her daughters, it became one of the region’s most prestigious schools for girls, operating from 1829 until 1897, closing only during the Civil War years. Jane died on 18 January 1871 and was buried in the family cemetery at Monticello.

Children of Jane Hollins Nicholas and Thomas Jefferson Randolph

Denver Lee Holcombe1

b. 15 February 1918, d. 13 March 1999
     Denver Lee Holcombe was born on 15 February 1918 at Clay Co., WV.1 He was the son of Sherman Monroe Holcombe and Cora Ann Clark Camp.1 Denver Lee Holcombe died on 13 March 1999 at Oceanside, San Diego Co., CA, at age 81.1

Child of Denver Lee Holcombe and Mary Elizabeth Roode


  1. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 236-62-0616.

Sarah Nicholas Randolph

b. 1839
     Sarah Nicholas Randolph was born in 1839. She was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Randolph and Jane Hollins Nicholas.

Ezekiel Holcombe II1

b. 2 August 1860, d. 28 April 1951
     Ezekiel Holcombe II was born on 2 August 1860 at Fola, Clay Co., WV.1,2 He was the son of Ethan Allen Holcombe II and Anna Louisa Ramsey.1 Ezekiel Holcombe II married Margaret Elizabeth Osborne say 1881.3 Ezekiel Holcombe II died on 28 April 1951 at Clay Co., WV, at age 90.4 He was buried on 1 May 1951 at Holcomb Memorial Gardens, Bickmore, Clay Co., WV.

Children of Ezekiel Holcombe II and Margaret Elizabeth Osborne


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 57.2.
  2. [S33] 1860 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  3. [S35] 1900 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  4. [S797] Thomas Holcomb Blog, online
  5. [S781], 2 December 2014.

Gabriella Harvie1

     Gabriella Harvie married Col. Thomas Mann Randolph, son of Col. William Randolph and Maria Judith Page, circa 1790.1


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 32.

Mary Randolph

b. 9 August 1762
     Mary Randolph was born on 9 August 1762 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Virginia Randolph

b. 31 January 1786
     Virginia Randolph was born on 31 January 1786 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Maria Judith Page

b. 24 February 1715, d. 2 March 1742
     Maria Judith Page was born on 24 February 1715. She married Col. William Randolph, son of Thomas Randolph and Judith Fleming, in 1735 at Goochland Co., VA. Maria Judith Page died on 2 March 1742 at Goochland Co., VA, at age 27.

Child of Maria Judith Page and Col. William Randolph

Archibald Cary1

b. 24 January 1721, d. 26 February 1787
     Archibald Cary was born on 24 January 1721.1 He married Mary Randolph, daughter of Colonel Richard Randolph and Jane Bolling.1 Archibald Cary died on 26 February 1787 at age 66.

Cary was a member of the House of Burgesses from 1756 to 1776. In 1764, he served on the committee of Burgesses that wrote resolutions against the proposed Stamp Act, but the following year he voted against Patrick Henry's Virginia Resolves as being premature and too inflammatory.

As tensions with the mother country escalated, in 1773 Cary served as a member of Virginia's committee of correspondence. When the House of Burgesses was dissolved at the outset of the American Revolution, he served as a delegate to the Virginia Conventions. At the Virginia Convention in May 1776, he served as the chairmen of the committee of the whole that adopted the celebrated resolution of independence, which instructed Virginia's delegates to the Second Continental Congress to propose a declaration of independence. After Virginia became an independent state in 1776, Cary became the first speaker of the Senate of Virginia, and remained in that position until his death.

During the American Revolutionary War, Cary was placed in charge of recruitment and supplies in central Virginia. He was asked by Thomas Jefferson, his colleague in the House of Burgesses and fellow graduate of William and Mary College, to loan the Virginia Colony the funds to underwrite the cost of the Virginia militia, on the promise by Jefferson he would be repaid later, though he never was repaid. He did fund the Virginia militia for the following reason: though he had always been loyal to the Crown (he had a Charter from the Crown for all his thousands of acres of property at Ampthill plantation), he had grown tired of British attempts to continue promoting the sale of slaves in America. Although he owned some 200 slaves, he had come to the conclusion that everything about the slave trade and the owning of slaves was only going to create major problems.

Cary was known among Baptists for arresting many Baptists for preaching without a license. There was one incident where a Baptist preacher continued to preach from his cell window. To solve the problem, Cary put a wall around the prison.

His nickname was "Old Iron". He operated Chesterfield Forge, which fabricated iron, starting in 1750, and ending in 1781, when it was burned by Benedict Arnold. He owned British thoroughbred horses and traded with England.

Child of Archibald Cary and Mary Randolph


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 6.

Elizabeth Randolph

b. 19 June 1765
     Elizabeth Randolph was born on 19 June 1765 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Reverend Dr. James Blair

b. 1656, d. 1743
     Reverend Dr. James Blair was born in 1656 at Scotland. He married Sarah Harrison, daughter of Benjamin Harrison II. Reverend Dr. James Blair died in 1743.

Blair was the highest ranking representative of the Church of England in the Colony of Virginia as Commissary of the Bishop of London; he helped found and became First President of the College of William and Mary in 1693.

Judith Randolph

b. 24 November 1772
     Judith Randolph was born on 24 November 1772 at VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Jane Cary Randolph

b. 17 December 1776
     Jane Cary Randolph was born on 17 December 1776 at Turkey Island, Henrico Co., VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Harriet Randolph

b. 24 November 1786
     Harriet Randolph was born on 24 November 1786 at Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland Co., VA. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas Mann Randolph and Anne Cary.

Jane Lilburne Susan Rogers

     Jane Lilburne Susan Rogers married Isham Randolph, son of William Randolph and Mary Isham, in 1717 at London, England.

Child of Jane Lilburne Susan Rogers and Isham Randolph

Mary Isham

b. 1652, d. 29 December 1735
     Mary Isham was born in 1652 at Bermuda Hundred, Henrico Co., VA. She married William Randolph in 1678 at Henrico Co., VA.1 Mary Isham died on 29 December 1735 at Turkey Island, Henrico Co., VA.

Children of Mary Isham and William Randolph


  1. [S689] Jonathan Daniels, Randolphs of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph1

b. 12 September 1792, d. 8 October 1875
     Thomas Jefferson Randolph was born on 12 September 1792.1 He was the son of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson.1 Thomas Jefferson Randolph married Jane Hollins Nicholas on 6 March 1815 at Warren. Thomas Jefferson Randolph died on 8 October 1875 at age 83.

Thomas of Albemarle County served in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was a son of Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson Randolph. He was the eldest grandson of United States President Thomas Jefferson, who designated Randolph as his sole executor in his will. Randolph married Jane Hollins Nicholas, daughter of Wilson Cary Nicholas, in 1815. After the Southampton slave insurrection of 1831, he introduced a post nati emancipation plan in the Virginia House of Delegates. From 1857 to 1864 Randolph was the rector of the University of Virginia after the death of the previous rector, Andrew Stevenson. He served as the temporary chairman of the 1872 Democratic National Convention.


Born at Monticello,Thomas was the eldest son of Thomas Mann and Martha Jefferson Randolph and the eldest grandson of Thomas Jefferson. His education, at home and in Philadelphia, where he was sent at the age of fifteen, was supervised by his grandfather and included studies in botany, natural history, and anatomy. Married to Jane Hollins Nicholas, daughter of Wilson Cary Nicholas, on 6 March 1815, Randolph soon took over the management of his grandfather's affairs and displayed an aptitude for finance. In 1817, the couple moved from Monticello to nearby Tufton, where they raised twelve children, nine daughters and three sons, and lost one daughter at the age of three. The burden of his father-in-law's financial ruin and the mismanagement of his own father's affairs fell heavily on Randolph, who became estranged from his father while attempting to mitigate the damage. In addition, after Thomas Jefferson's death, Randolph, as sole executor of his estate, struggled to pay his grandfather's debts and eventually did so, though it meant the sale of Monticello and the family's removal to Edgehill. Randolph published the first collection of Jefferson's writings in 1829 and also became a member of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia, where he later served as Rector. Among other public offices, Randolph served six terms in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he supported the gradual emancipation and deportation of slaves. Too old to fight during the Civil War, Randolph nevertheless was given a colonel's commission in the Confederate army, and in 1872 he served as chairman of the National Democratic Convention. He died at Edgehill following a carriage accident on 7 October 1875.

Children of Thomas Jefferson Randolph and Jane Hollins Nicholas


  1. [S679] William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph, page 34.

Betsey Talcott1

b. April 1799, d. 1844
     Betsey Talcott was born in April 1799.1 She married George William Griswold, son of George Griswold and Esther Johnson, on 1 January 1822 at Vernon, Tolland Co., CT.1 Betsey Talcott died in 1844.1

Child of Betsey Talcott and George William Griswold


  1. [S377] Coralee Griswold Griswold 6 & 7 Vol 1, page 307.

Esther Griswold

b. 13 January 1827
     Esther Griswold was born on 13 January 1827. She was the daughter of George William Griswold and Betsey Talcott.

Mertie Lura Fosier

b. 14 February 1875, d. 15 January 1929
     Mertie Lura Fosier was born on 14 February 1875 at LaGrange, Lorain Co., OH. She was the daughter of Lyman Fosier and Mary Augusta Holcombe. Mertie Lura Fosier married Benjamin Lamphier in 1891. Mertie Lura Fosier married Otto Leon Wightman on 24 June 1897. Mertie Lura Fosier died on 15 January 1929 at Chippewa Lake, Medina Co., OH, at age 53.1 She was buried on 17 January 1929 at Shaw Cemetery, Lafayette Twp., Medina Co., OH.

Otto and Mertie L. were enumerated in the 1900 Lafayette, Medina Co., OH, federal census. He was a farmer age 43, she was 37. Children in the household were Vernon A. Lamphier 6, and Florence M. Wightman 7 months.

Mertie was enumerated in the 1920 Lafayette, Medina Co., OH, federal census. She was 44. Children in the household were Austin 18, Marie 13, Blake 11, and Guy 9.

From an unknown paper, unknown date:
Mertie Laura Wightman, daughter of Mary and Lyman Fosier, was born in Lagrange, O., Feb. 14, 1875 and lived there until her marriage to Benjamin Lamphier in 1891 at which time they moved to Wellington. To this union were born two children, Maggie, dying in infancy, and Vernon A. of Bennets Corners.

Early in life she united with the Disciple Church at Wellington, which she attended faithfully.

In 1896 she came to Lafayette, working in the home of Adam Hoffman for several months. She was next employed in the home of Earl Shaw where she remained unitl her marriage to Otto L. Wightman, June 24, 1897, when she, with her husband, began their home on the old Wightman farm at whichplace she lived for 27 years. This union were born seven children, namelyh: Mary, who died in infancy, Florina Fetzer, of Creston; Austin, of Chippewa Lake; Mrs. Velva Eaken, of Medina; Mrs. Marie Allison, of Rittman; Bland an dGuy at home. Five years ago, following the death of her husband, she, withher tow younger sons, moved to Chippewa Lake, where she lived until her death, Jan. 16, 1929 at the age of 53 years, 11 months and one day.

Children of Mertie Lura Fosier and Benjamin Lamphier

Children of Mertie Lura Fosier and Otto Leon Wightman


  1. [S680] Mertie Lura Wightman, DC: Mertie Lura Wightman.
  2. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 283-10-2223.
  3. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 280-09-8925.

Vernon Arthur Lamphier

b. 11 April 1894
     Vernon Arthur Lamphier was born on 11 April 1894 at OH. He was the son of Benjamin Lamphier and Mertie Lura Fosier.

Vernon A. and Edna M. were enumerated in the 1930 Lafayette, Medina Co., OH, federal census. He was a truck driver for the county, age 36, she was 35. Chilkdren in the household were Martha M. 13, Opal J. 10, and Eaton R. 1 year 11 months.

Maggie Lamphier

b. 1892, d. 1892
     Maggie Lamphier died in 1892 at Wellington, Lorain Co., OH. She was born in 1892 at Wellington, Lorain Co., OH. She was the daughter of Benjamin Lamphier and Mertie Lura Fosier.

Timothy Holcombe1

b. circa 1847
     Timothy Holcombe was born circa 1847 at VA.1,2 He was the son of James Holcombe and Nancy Catherine Hughes.1


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 227.1.
  2. [S33] 1860 Federal Census, unknown repository address.

Florina Wightman

b. 18 October 1899
     Florina Wightman was born on 18 October 1899 at Lafayette, Medina Co., OH. She was the daughter of Otto Leon Wightman and Mertie Lura Fosier.

Sherman Monroe Holcombe1

b. 12 March 1880, d. 27 September 1969
     Sherman Monroe Holcombe was born on 12 March 1880 at Clay Co., WV.1 He was the son of William Hugh Holcombe and Mary Ann Chapman.1 Sherman Monroe Holcombe married Cora Ann Clark Camp on 25 December 1905 at Clay Co., WV.1 Sherman Monroe Holcombe died on 27 September 1969 at Weston, Lewis Co., WV, at age 89. He was buried at Maple Grove Cemetery, Fairmont, Marion Co., WV.2

Sherman and Cora C. were enumerated in the 1910 Buffalo, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a farmer age 30, she was 19. Children in the household were Jennie 3, and Henderson A., 3 months. Brother Llewellyn was enumerated next door.

Children of Sherman Monroe Holcombe and Cora Ann Clark Camp


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 227.2.
  2. [S888] Find A Grave Memorial; memorial page for Sherman Monroe Holcomb (12 Mar 1880–27 Sep 1969). Memorial no. 111100559, database and images:, accessed 20 May 2021, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by: Emily Kirkpatrick (contributor 49887420).
  3. [S363] 1910 Federal Census,.
  4. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 236-62-0616.

Viola (?)

b. circa 1904
     Viola (?) married Austin Wightman, son of Otto Leon Wightman and Mertie Lura Fosier. Viola (?) was born circa 1904.

John Holcombe1

b. March 1846
     John Holcombe was born in March 1846 at VA.1,2,3 He was the son of James Holcombe and Nancy Catherine Hughes.1 John Holcombe married Melvina J. Dunford. John Holcombe married Margaret E. Bragg on 11 March 1875 at Clay Co., WV.3

John and Margaret were enumerated in the 1900 Buffalo, Clay Co., WV, federal census. He was a farmer age 54, she was 45. They had been married 15 years, she had 6 children and 3 were still living. This would indicate that John's first 4 children were from another wife.

Child of John Holcombe and Melvina J. Dunford

Children of John Holcombe and Margaret E. Bragg

Children of John Holcombe


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 227.1.
  2. [S33] 1860 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  3. [S797] Thomas Holcomb Blog, online

Velva Cleo Wightman

b. 23 December 1903, d. 21 November 1977
     Velva Cleo Wightman was born on 23 December 1903 at OH.1 She was the daughter of Otto Leon Wightman and Mertie Lura Fosier. Velva Cleo Wightman married Dewey Leo Eaken on 24 December 1921 at Medina Co., OH.2 Velva Cleo Wightman died on 21 November 1977 at Columbus, OH, at age 73.1

Dewey L. and Velva C. were enumerated in the 1930 Medina, Medina Co., OH, federal census. He was a welder in a foundry, age 31, she was 26. Children in the household were Gladys 5, Henry 3, and Rosa E. 2 months.

Children of Velva Cleo Wightman and Dewey Leo Eaken


  1. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 275-62-0172.
  2. [S681] MR: Eaken and Wightman.
  3. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 272-28-4619.
  4. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 299-30-0366.
  5. [S182] Social Security Death Index (on-line),, SSDI,, SSAN 275-48-9441.

Ethan Allen Holcombe III1

b. circa 1850
     Ethan Allen Holcombe III was born circa 1850 at VA.1,2 He was the son of James Holcombe and Nancy Catherine Hughes.1


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 227.1.
  2. [S33] 1860 Federal Census, unknown repository address.

Ariadne (?)

b. circa 1822
     Ariadne (?) was born circa 1822 at VA. She married Thomas Theophilus Hill, son of Major Thomas Hill and Fannie Russell Baptist, circa 1840.

President James Madison Jr.1

b. 5 March 1750/51, d. 28 June 1836
     President James Madison Jr. was born on 5 March 1750/51 at Port Conway, King George Co., VA.1 He was the son of James Madison and Eleanor Rose Conway.1 President James Madison Jr. died on 28 June 1836 at Montpelier, Orange Co., VA, at age 85.1

Madison was an American politician and political philosopher who served as the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817), and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Considered to be the "Father of the Constitution", he was the principal author of the document. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. The first President to have served in the United States Congress, he was a leader in the 1st United States Congress, drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution (said to be based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights), and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.

As leader in the House of Representatives, Madison worked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in 1791, Madison and Thomas Jefferson organized what they called the Republican Party (later called the Democratic-Republican Party) in opposition to key policies of the Federalists, especially the national bank and the Jay Treaty. He secretly co-authored, along with Thomas Jefferson, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 to protest the Alien and Sedition Acts.

As Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation's size, and sponsored the ill-fated Embargo Act of 1807. As president, he led the nation into the War of 1812 against Great Britain in order to protect the United States' economic rights. That conflict began poorly as Americans suffered defeat after defeat by smaller forces, but ended on a high note in 1814, with the, after which a new Era of Good Feelings swept the country. During and after the war, Madison reversed many of his positions. By 1815, he supported the creation of the second National Bank, a strong military, and a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war.

Madison was born in Port Conway, Virginia, on March 16, 1751 (March 5 according to the Old Style). He was the oldest of twelve children, seven of whom reached adulthood. His parents, Colonel James Madison, Sr. (March 27, 1723 – February 27, 1801) and Eleanor Rose "Nellie" Conway (January 9, 1731 – February 11, 1829), were slave owners and the prosperous owners of a tobacco plantation in Orange County, Virginia, where Madison spent most of his childhood years. He was raised in the Church of England, the state religion of Virginia at the time. Madison's plantation life was made possible by his paternal grandfather, Ambrose Madison, who utilized Virginia's headright system to import many indentured servants, thereby allowing him to accumulate a large tract of land. Madison, like his forebears, owned slaves.

Madison is noted for being the shortest president ever, at 5 ft 4 in tall. He is also the lightest president ever, weighing only about 100 pounds (45 kg). Note that the average American was shorter than today, and most presidents were of above average height.

Madison attended the College of New Jersey, (later to become Princeton University) with roommate poet/satirist Phillip Freneau, finishing its four-year course in two years, 1769–1771; and continued to study with John Witherspoon, the College's president at that time, for a year after graduating. Madison has been called America's first graduate student, perhaps more accurately "Princeton's first graduate student."

On September 14, 1794, Madison married Dolley Payne Todd, almost seventeen years his junior, who cut as attractive and vivacious a figure as he did a sickly and asocial one. Dolley is largely credited with inventing the role of First Lady as political ally and adviser to the president. Dolley and James did not have any children of their own.

Madison served in the Virginia state legislature (1776–79) and became known as a protégé of Thomas Jefferson, attaining prominence in Virginia politics, helping to draft the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It disestablished the Church of England, and disclaimed any power of state compulsion in religious matters including Patrick Henry's plan to compel citizens to pay for a congregation of their own choice.

His cousin, the Right Reverend James Madison (1749–1812), became president of The College of William & Mary in 1777. Working closely with Madison and Jefferson, Reverend Madison helped lead the College through the difficult changes involving separation from both England and the Church of England, as well as those which resulted in the formation of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia after the War.
James Madison also persuaded Virginia to give up its claims to northwestern territories - consisting of most of modern-day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota - to the Continental Congress, forming the Northwest Territory in 1783. These land claims overlapped partially with other claims by Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and maybe others. All of these states ceded their westmost lands, with the understanding that eventually new states could be formed from the land - as they were. As a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780–83), Madison was considered a legislative workhorse and a master of parliamentary detail. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for a second time from 1784-1786.

Madison returned to the Virginia state legislature at the close of the war. However, he soon grew alarmed at the fragility of the Articles of Confederation (especially at the divisiveness of state governments) and strongly advocated a new constitution to overcome this divisiveness. At the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, Madison's draft of the Virginia Plan and his revolutionary three-branch federal system became the basis for the American Constitution of today. Though Madison was a shy man, he was one of the more outspoken members of the Continental Congress. He envisioned a strong federal government that could overrule actions of the states when they were deemed mistaken; later in life he came to admire the Supreme Court as it started filling that role.

To encourage ratification of the Constitution, Madison joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers in 1787 and 1788. Among other contributions, Madison wrote paper #10, in which he explained how a large country with many different interests and factions could support republican values better than a small country dominated by a few special interests. His interpretation was largely ignored at the time, but in the 20th century became a central part of the pluralist interpretation of American politics.

In Virginia in 1788, Madison led the fight for ratification at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, oratorically dueling with Patrick Henry and others who sought revisions (such as the United States Bill of Rights) before its ratification. Madison is often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution" for his role in its drafting and ratification. However, he protested the title as being "a credit to which I have no claim... The Constitution was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands".
He wrote Hamilton, at the New York ratifying convention, observing that his opinion was that "ratification was in toto and for ever". The Virginia convention had considered conditional ratification worse than a rejection.

Patrick Henry persuaded the Virginia legislature not to elect Madison as one of their first Senators; but Madison was directly elected to the new United States House of Representatives and became an important leader from the First Congress (1789) through the Fourth Congress (1797).

Initially Madison "adamantly maintained ... that a specific bill of rights remained unnecessary because the Constitution itself was a bill of rights." Madison had three main objections to a specific bill of rights: (a) it was unnecessary, since it purported to protect against powers that the federal government had not been granted; (b) it was dangerous, since enumeration of some rights might be taken to imply the absence of other rights; and (c) at the state level, bills of rights had proven to be useless paper barriers against government powers. But the anti-Federalists demanded a bill of rights in exchange for their support for ratification.

Over two hundred proposals were submitted from throughout the country. Madison ignored those proposals which called for structural change to the government and synthesized the remainder into a list of proposals for the protection of civil rights, such as free speech, right of the people to bear arms, and habeas corpus. Still ambiguous as late as 1788 in his support for a bill of rights, in June 1789 Madison offered a package of twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution. Madison eventually completed the reversal of his original opposition and "hounded his colleagues relentlessly" to accept his proposed amendments.

By 1791, the last ten of Madison's proposed amendments were ratified and became the Bill of Rights. Contrary to his wishes, the Bill of Rights was not integrated into the main body of the Constitution, and it did not apply to the states until the passages of Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments restricted the powers of the states. The Second Amendment originally proposed by Madison (but not then ratified: see United States Bill of Rights) was later ratified in 1992 as the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. The remaining proposal was intended to accommodate future increase in members of the House of Representatives.

The chief characteristic of Madison's time in Congress was his work to limit the power of the federal government. Wood (2006a) argued that Madison never wanted a national government that took an active role. He was horrified to discover that Hamilton and Washington were creating "a real modern European type of government with a bureaucracy, a standing army, and a powerful independent executive".
When Britain and France went to war in 1793 the U.S. was caught in the middle. The 1778 treaty of alliance with France was still in effect, yet most of the new country's trade was with Britain. War with Britain seemed imminent in 1794, as the British seized hundreds of American ships that were trading with French colonies. Madison (in collaboration with Jefferson, who had temporarily returned to private life), believed that Britain was weak and America strong, and that a trade war with Britain, although risking retaliation by the British government, probably would succeed, and would allow Americans to assert their independence fully. Great Britain, he charged, "has bound us in commercial manacles, and very nearly defeated the object of our independence". As Varg explains, Madison had no fear of British recriminations for "her interests can be wounded almost mortally, while ours are invulnerable." The British West Indies, he maintained, could not live without American foodstuffs, but Americans could easily do without British manufactures. This same faith led him to the conclusion "that it is in our power, in a very short time, to supply all the tonnage necessary for our own commerce". However, George Washington avoided a trade war and instead secured friendly trade relations with Britain through the Jay Treaty of 1794, a treaty that Madison tried but failed to defeat. All across the country, voters divided for and against the Treaty and other key issues, and thus became either Federalists or Democratic-Republicans.

Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton built a nationwide network of supporters that became the Federalist Party and promoted a strong central government with a national bank. To oppose the Federalists, Madison and Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican Party. Madison led the unsuccessful attempt to block Hamilton's proposed Bank of the United States, arguing the new Constitution did not explicitly allow the federal government to form a bank.

Many historians argue that Madison changed radically from a nationally-oriented ally of Hamilton in 1787–88 to a states'-rights–oriented opponent of a strong national government by 1795 and then back to his original view while president. Madison started the first transition by opposing Hamilton; by 1793 he was opposing Washington as well. Madison usually lost and Hamilton usually achieved passage of his legislation, including the National Bank, funding of state and national debts, and support of the Jay Treaty. (Madison did block the proposal for high tariffs.)

Madison's politics remained closely aligned with Jefferson's until the experience of a weak national government during the War of 1812 caused Madison to appreciate the need for a strong central government to aid national defense. He then began to support a national bank, a stronger navy, and a standing army. However, other historians, led by Lance Banning and Gordon S. Wood, see more continuity in Madison's views and do not see a sharp break in 1792.

The main challenge which faced the Jefferson Administration was navigating between the two great empires of Britain and France, which were almost constantly at war. The first great triumph was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, made possible when Napoleon realized he could not defend that vast territory, and it was to France's advantage that Britain not seize it. Madison and President Jefferson reversed party policy to negotiate for the Purchase and then win Congressional approval. Madison tried to maintain neutrality between Britain and France, but at the same time insisted on the legal rights of the U.S. under international law. Neither London nor Paris showed much respect, however. Madison and Jefferson decided on an embargo to punish Britain and France, forbidding Americans to trade with any foreign nation. The embargo failed as foreign policy, and instead caused massive hardships in the southern seaboard, which depended on foreign trade.

During his term as Secretary of State he was a party to the Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, in which the doctrine of judicial review was asserted by the high Court.
The party's Congressional Caucus chose presidential candidates, and Madison was selected in the election of 1808, easily defeating Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, riding on the coattails of Jefferson's popularity. Congress repealed the failed embargo as Madison took office.

The twenty year charter of the first Bank of the United States was scheduled to expire in 1811, the second year of Madison's administration. Madison failed in blocking the Bank in 1791, and waited for its charter to expire. Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin wanted the bank rechartered, and when the War of 1812 broke out, he discovered how difficult it was to finance the war without the Bank. Gallatin's successor as Treasury Secretary Alexander J. Dallas proposed a replacement in 1814, but Madison vetoed the bill in 1815. By late 1815, however, Madison asked Congress for a new bank, which had strong support from the younger, nationalistic republicans such as John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay, as well as Federalist Daniel Webster. Madison signed it into law in 1816 and appointed William Jones as its president.

British insults continued, especially the practice of using the Royal Navy to intercept unarmed American merchant ships and "impress" (conscript) all sailors who might be British subjects for service in the British navy. Madison's protests were ignored by the British, so he helped the nationalist Republicans to stir up public opinion in the west and south for war. One argument by the so-called "war hawks" was that an American invasion of British Canada would be easy and would provide a good bargaining chip. Madison carefully prepared public opinion for what everyone at the time called "Mr. Madison's War", but much less time and money was spent building up the army, navy, forts, and state militias. After he convinced Congress to declare war, Madison was re-elected President over DeWitt Clinton but by a smaller margin than in 1808. Some historians in 2006 ranked Madison's failure to avoid war as the sixth worst presidential mistake ever made.

In the ensuing War of 1812, the British, Canadians, and First Nations allies won numerous victories, including the capture of Detroit after the American general there surrendered to a smaller force without a fight, and the occupation of Washington, D.C. which forced Madison to flee the city and watch as the White House was set on fire by British troops. The attack was in retaliation for a U.S. invasion of York, Upper Canada (now Toronto, Ontario), in which U.S. forces twice occupied the city, burning the Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada. The British also armed American Indians in the West, most notably followers of Tecumseh who met defeat at the Battle of the Thames. The Americans built warships on the Great Lakes faster than the British and Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet to avert a major invasion of New York in 1814. At sea, the British blockaded the entire coastline, cutting off both foreign trade and domestic trade between ports. Economic hardship was severe in New England, but entrepreneurs built factories that soon became the basis of the industrial revolution in America.

Madison faced formidable obstacles—a divided cabinet, a factious party, a recalcitrant Congress, obstructionist governors, and incompetent generals, together with militia who refused to fight outside their states. Most serious was lack of unified popular support. There were serious threats of disunion from New England, which engaged in massive smuggling to Canada and refused to provide financial support or soldiers. However Andrew Jackson in the South and William Henry Harrison in the West destroyed the main Indian threats by 1813.

War-weariness led to the end of conflict after the apparent defeat of Napoleon in 1814. Both the British and American will to continue were exhausted, the causes of the absurd war were forgotten, the Indian issue was resolved for the time being, and it was time for peace. New England Federalists, however, set up a defeatist Hartford Convention that discussed secession. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war in 1815. There were no territorial gains on either side as both sides returned to status quo ante bellum, that is, the previous boundaries. The Battle of New Orleans, in which Andrew Jackson defeated the British regulars, was fought fifteen days after the treaty was signed but before the news of the signing reached New Orleans.

With peace finally established, the U.S. was swept by a sense of euphoria and national achievement in finally securing solid independence from Britain. In Canada, the war and its conclusion represented a successful defense of the country, and a defining era in the formation of an independent national identity. This, coupled with ongoing suspicion of a U.S. desire to again invade the country, would culminate in creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. In the U.S., the Federalist Party collapsed and eventually disappeared from politics, as an Era of Good Feeling emerged with a much lower level of political fear and vituperation, although political contention certainly continued.

Although Madison had accepted the necessity of a Hamiltonian national bank, an effective taxation system based on tariffs, a standing professional army and a strong navy, he drew the line at internal improvements as advocated by his Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin. In his last act before leaving office, Madison vetoed on states' rights grounds a bill for "internal improvements", including roads, bridges, and canals.

Madison rejected the view of Congress that the General Welfare provision of the Taxing and Spending Clause justified the bill. Madison urged a variety of measures that he felt were "best executed under the national authority", including federal support for roads and canals that would "bind more closely together the various parts of our extended confederacy".

When Madison left office in 1817, he retired to Montpelier, his tobacco plantation in Virginia; not far from Jefferson's Monticello. Madison was then 65 years old. Dolley, who thought they would finally have a chance to travel to Paris, was 49. But as with both Washington and Jefferson, Madison left the presidency a poorer man than when he entered, due to the steady financial collapse of his plantation. Some historians speculate that his mounting debt was one of the chief reasons why he refused to allow his notes on the Constitution Convention, or its official records which he possessed, to be published in his lifetime "He knew the value of his notes, and wanted them to bring money to his estate for Dolley's use as his plantation failed—he was hoping for one hundred thousand dollars from the sale of his papers, of which the notes were the gem." Madison's financial troubles and deteriorating mental and physical health would continue to consume him.

In his later years Madison also became extremely concerned about his legacy. He took to modifying letters and other documents in his possessions: changing days and dates, adding and deleting words and sentences, and shifting characters. By the time he had reached his late seventies, this "straightening out" had become almost an obsession. This can be seen by his editing of a letter he had written to Jefferson criticizing Lafayette: Madison not only inked out original passages, but went so far as to imitate Jefferson's handwriting as well. In Madison's mind, this may have represented an effort to make himself clear, to justify his actions both to history and to himself.

In 1829, at the age of seventy-eight, Madison was chosen as a representative to the constitutional convention in Richmond for the revising of the Virginia state constitution; this was to be Madison's last appearance as a legislator and constitutional draftsman. The issue of greatest importance at this convention was apportionment. The western districts of Virginia complained that they were under-represented because the state constitution apportioned voting districts by population, and the count included slaves even though slaves could not vote. Westerners had few slaves, while the Eastern planters had many, and thus the vote of a white easterner outweighed the vote of a white westerner. Madison, who in his prime was known as "the Great Legislator", tried to effect a compromise, such as the 3/5 ratio for a slave then used by the U.S. Constitution, but to no avail. Eventually, the eastern planters prevailed. Slaves would continue to be counted toward their masters' districts. Madison was crushed at the failure of Virginians to resolve the issue more equably. "The Convention of 1829, we might say, pushed Madison steadily to the brink of self-delusion, if not despair. The dilemma of slavery undid him."

Although his health had now almost failed, he managed to produce several memoranda on political subjects, including an essay against the appointment of chaplains for Congress and the armed forces, on the grounds that this produced religious exclusion, but not political harmony.

Madison lived on until 1836, increasingly ignored by the new leaders of the American polity. He died at Montpellier on June 28, the last Founding Father to die. He is buried in the Madison Family Cemetery at Montpelier.


  1. [S676] Gary Boyd Roberts, Presidents 2009 Edition, page 15.