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Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 – September 12, 1813) was an American attorney and politician. He was the seventh Governor of Virginia, and as a delegate from Virginia, attended the Constitutional Convention, helping to create a national constitution. He was the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General during George Washington’s presidency.

Edmund Randolph

Edmund Randolph of Virginia saw the Senate, with its member selected by their respective state legislatures, as a “cure for the evils under which the United States labored . . . the turbulence and follies of democracy.” United States senators were not elected directly until the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution (1913)—a change that destroyed the Framers’ original intentions for the upper house. No longer would it be the bastion of state’s rights and an aristocratic check on both the House of Representatives and the executive branch; no longer would it be what it was meant to be: a guardian against demagoguery, an evil the Framers associated with unbridled democracy. As Samuel Huntingdon, who was not only a signer of the Declaration of Independence but president of the Continental Congress (and governor of Connecticut), said in 1788: “It is difficult for the people at large to know when the supreme power is verging towards abuse, and to apply the proper remedy. But if the government be properly balanced, it will possess a renovating principle, by which it will be able to right itself.” That balance was to be provided by the indirectly elected Senate; if the federal government has become more demagogic since World War I, the Seventeenth Amendment might be to blame.

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