10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers

Larry Holzwarth - March 13, 2018

Despite the morals expressed by the Founding Fathers in the writings left for posterity the majority of them were a randy bunch. Mistresses, dalliances, and illegitimate births followed in the wake of many. We tend to dehumanize the Founders, equating them with the marble statues erected in their memory, remembering them as bewigged expounders of high moral character, serious, sober, and sanctimonious. Nothing could be further from the truth. All were subject to the same foibles as those faced by people everywhere. Franklin’s writings for example, and those about him written by others demonstrate a character untroubled by the rumors and gossip over his behavior.

Some of the Founders were indeed sober and steady men who maintained a fealty towards their wives despite long separations and stressful times. Others found the need to take solace in the brothels of Philadelphia while working in that city. Others maintained mistresses carefully concealed from the eyes of their fellow delegates. The sex lives of some of the Founders can only be speculated about because of their letters and diaries being destroyed following their deaths. Washington’s letters to his wife Martha, for example, were consigned to flames by her when he died in 1799.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Thomas Rowlandson etching of a London brothel in the mid-to-late 18th century. Wikimedia

Here are some tales of the sex lives of the Founders of the nation.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Jefferson’s passion while in Paris, Maria Cosway, drawn by her husband Richard. Sotheby’s

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a 43 year old widower when he was introduced to the married Maria Cosway in Paris in 1786. Jefferson had recently witnessed the death of his wife, who had given birth to six children during their marriage, though only two survived more than a few years. Martha Jefferson was never in strong health, and the childbirths and subsequent deaths of her children weakened her further. On her deathbed, she informed Jefferson that she couldn’t bear the thought of another woman being mother to her surviving children, and made him promise he would never remarry.

Jefferson was still grieving when he arrived in Paris. He found distraction in the architecture and museums in the French capital. He was visiting the Grain Market with John Trumbull, the noted American artist, when Trumbull introduced him to Richard Cosway and his wife Maria. Jefferson canceled his scheduled dinner with Trumbull, and spent the rest of the day with Maria. Maria’s husband was a well-known painter of miniatures and an equally well-known philanderer, and appeared to at first have no objection to Jefferson’s overt attentions to his wife.

They met in August and for most of the remainder of the summer Jefferson escorted Maria to various museums and other sights of Paris. The two shared an interest and appreciation of architecture, and toured the city and the many fine chateaux which stood nearby. They also shared an appreciation of music, Maria Cosway being an accomplished pianist and Jefferson a violinist. In the evenings they frequently played together. By the beginning of October Richard Cosway was ready to return to London and demanded that his wife accompany him; she had planned on remaining in Paris to paint.

When Maria complied with her husband’s wishes and left for Paris for London, Jefferson became melancholy to the point of depression. He wrote a letter to Maria, which survives in his papers (Jefferson had invented a copying machine which made copies of his letters as he wrote them). The letter, which is over four thousand words in length, describes a dialogue between Jefferson’s head and heart, the former expressing through reason why a romantic relationship between them was unwise. The heart responds with passionate expressions of Jefferson’s feelings for the married Cosway.

Maria Cosway evidently responded more favorably to the head’s side of the argument, her letter of reply in late October was cool and cordial, rather than passionate. Jefferson did not press the argument, but continued to correspond with Maria for the rest of his life. They did meet again in Paris when Maria returned, but she told Trumbull that Jefferson seemed distant and remote. There is no proof of a physical relationship between them that autumn in Paris, but the fervor of Jefferson’s letter indicates that, on his side at least, such a relationship was wholly desired.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Benjamin Franklin was aware of his reputation as a womanizer and relished it. Library of Congress

Benjamin Franklin

By the time Benjamin Franklin became one of the Founding Fathers the days of his youth were well behind him. But his reputation as a ladies man remained. It was well deserved. As a young man Franklin worked for a time as a printer in London, and became well acquainted with the brothels of the English capital. Before leaving for London in 1723, Franklin proposed marriage to Deborah Read. Her mother refused to sanction the marriage. While Franklin was in London Deborah married John Rodgers, who promptly abandoned her and fled with her dowry to Barbados.

Deborah was legally married and with no knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts was not free to marry when Franklin returned. They moved in together as husband and wife in a common law marriage. Joining them was Franklin’s illegitimate son, William, whose date of birth is unknown. So is the identity of his mother, to whom Franklin never referred again. Deborah Read Franklin would bear two children during their common law marriage, which endured long separations while Franklin was in Europe or the other colonies conducting business.

Among the many documents Franklin left behind is a letter he wrote which indicates his attitude over the keeping of a mistress. Franklin advised a young acquaintance that the best way to deal with sexual desires was through marriage to “…a Prudent healthy wife…” but in the case of a mistress it is wiser to select an older woman over a young. His many reasons included, “…they are so grateful.” As a young man himself Franklin did not heed his own advice, once making advances on the mistress of a good friend, only to lose both mistress and friend.

Franklin’s appetites and freethinking over sex was evident as a youth when he was publishing his famed aphorisms in Poor Richard’s Almanac. Some of these include, “She that Paints her Face thinks of her Tail,” and “After three days men grow weary of a wench…” One of his most pithy comments under the guise of Poor Richard was, “Neither a Fortress nor a maidenhead will hold out long after they begin to parley.” In his autobiography Franklin referred to his sexual appetites as, “That hard to be governed passion of youth had hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell into my way.”

By the time Franklin arrived in Paris during the Revolutionary War he was well into his seventies, but that did not stop the gossip over his amorous activities with several of the French noblewomen at the Royal Court. He reveled in the gossip, and did all he could encourage it, including the recitation of a poem about him referring to his tastes in women. Throughout his long life Franklin was attracted to the opposite sex, and the attraction was reciprocated. His own preference was clearly for younger women, despite the advice he famously tendered to his young friend.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
John Trumbull painted this portrait of Hamilton in 1792, during his affair with Maria Reynolds. Wikimedia

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury for the United States of America, a position he used to conduct the first sex scandal involving a cabinet member in American history. It included a secretive sexual relationship with a married woman followed by bribery to keep her husband from making it known to the public after the husband learned of the affair. Before it was over Hamilton was induced to admit to the affair in order to avoid being implicated in yet another scandal. It did not involve a duel between the two men, as would have been expected of that time, though it nearly led to a duel between Hamilton and James Monroe.

Alexander Hamilton was of illegitimate birth himself, a fact with which he struggled all of his life. He also struggled with controlling his libido. In 1780 he married the daughter of General Philip Schuyler, Elizabeth, and in a short time the gossip was of his conducting an affair with his sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler. By 1791 Hamilton and his wife had four children and he was serving in the administration of George Washington as his chief financial adviser. That summer Elizabeth and the children left Philadelphia for Albany, while Hamilton remained behind.

Hamilton was approached by Maria Reynolds, who asked him for money after knocking at his door, claiming that she had been abandoned by her husband and needed to get to New York, where she had friends and family. Hamilton promised to bring the money to her boarding house that evening. When Hamilton arrived the young woman brought him to her room, and according to Hamilton, “Some conversation ensued from which it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable.” For the next several months they met frequently, usually at Hamilton’s home.

Maria’s husband James Reynolds was soon on the scene, aware of the affair, and demanding payment from Hamilton, whose wife and children returned that fall. Hamilton paid Reynolds in small amounts until the husband demanded a larger payment. At that point Hamilton refused to pay any more. By the late summer of 1792 Elizabeth Hamilton gave birth to their fifth child, and Reynolds was arrested for scamming payments from the government meant to be made to Revolutionary War veterans, claiming the funds intended for another. Reynolds partner in the scheme told three congressmen, one of whom was James Monroe, they were innocent and that Hamilton had been paying Reynolds illegally.

When confronted Hamilton told the whole story of the affair, stating that it wasn’t government corruption, but an illicit affair and blackmail. In 1797 the entire affair was reported in a newspaper, probably leaked to the writer by Monroe. Hamilton responded with a pamphlet now known as the Reynolds pamphlet. He later confronted James Monroe and the angry meeting led to a challenge to a duel, issued by Hamilton and accepted by Monroe. In one of early America’s great ironies, a third party intervened to soothe both sides and avoid a duel. The third party was Aaron Burr, who would kill Hamilton in a duel a few years later.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Gouverneur Morris wrote the Constitution. He also wrote of his many affairs in his diaries, which can be read today. New York Public Library

Gouverneur Morris

Certainly one of the lesser known of the founding fathers, Gouverneur Morris’s contributions to the Constitution were considerable. Morris chaired the committee which addressed the style in which the Constitution was written, including the phrasing, and wrote the Preamble. Before and during the French Revolution he served in France as one of the American Minister to France, replacing Thomas Jefferson. While there he kept diaries which described his sex life in detail, including identifying the many French ladies whom he seduced during his stay.

During the Revolutionary era the famous Paris Museum called the Louvre was a residence for members of the Royal Court of Louis XVI, their servants and staffs, and other guests. They resided there when the King was in Paris, when he went to the Palace at Versailles they accompanied him there. Morris had a mistress there, a married woman named Madame de Flahaut. Madame was younger than her husband by some 35 years. When Morris first met her he confided to his diary, “If I might judge from Appearances she is not a sworn Enemy to Intrigue.”

Morris was correct. Madame soon requested the notoriously randy Morris to visit her in her apartments in the Louvre. There Morris met Madame’s six year old son, who was not the son of her husband, but of Talleyrand, who happened to have been the priest who had married her to her husband. Talleyrand was still engaged in an affair with Madame when Morris entered the picture. When she suggested an affair he responded in true diplomatic fashion. He said that he would think about it and let her know. When he did let her know, in the affirmative, it was with the terms that the affair would be merely physical and she agreed.

At one point during their affair Morris suggested that they meet in a public room in the Louvre, one floor above the room in which her husband would be at the time, with all of the doors to the room in which the tryst would take place left open. In his diary he recorded the event as “…we take the chance of interruption and celebrate in the passage…” He also noted that “Visitors are hourly expected,” and that, “The husband is below.” Their affair continued until 1794, when the French Revolution devolved into the Reign of Terror and Madame fled from Paris.

There were several other affairs conducted by Morris in Paris and when he returned to the United States. Morris had lost his leg as the result of a carriage accident leading John Jay to comment that he wished he had lost something else. Eventually Morris likely agreed with him. Morris contracted an infection from an attempt to use a piece of whalebone as a catheter to remove a urinary tract obstruction, and died from it in 1816, passing away in the same room of the house in which he had been born. Though Morris eventually married – at the age of 57 – he continued to pursue and seduce married women throughout his political career.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Martha Washington once appeared on the US One dollar bill, in this case a silver certificate. National Museum of American History

George Washington

Little is known for certain regarding the sex life of George Washington. In his youth he was referred to as the “young stallion of the Potomac” and his passion for the wife of his neighbor and fellow planter Lord Fairfax has been well-documented. But his life with his wife Martha, who brought two children into their marriage from her first marriage, remains opaque to large extent. Washington had no children of his own, probably as a result of his smallpox at a younger age, and the letters which he and Martha exchanged were burned by her after his death.

We do know that despite his apparent uprightness regarding his marriage, he was the subject of several rumors which reported extramarital dalliances. Some of these were attempts by the British to destroy his character and bring him into disrepute. In August 1775 a Loyalist newspaper in Boston published a story in which it was reported that a letter from Benjamin Harrison, then in the Continental Congress from Virginia, had been intercepted by the Royal Navy. In it Harrison made mention of procuring a young lady for Washington’s pleasure. The story was later proven false.

The British tried again in 1777, creating a story of a woman who was actually a British spy, kept by Washington for sexual purposes near his headquarters. The story alleged that Washington visited her late at night and always in disguise. The timing of the incidents depicted in the story coincided with the presence of Martha Washington at Washington’s Headquarters and the story never gained much traction. The attempts of the British to sully Washington’s reputation through stories of sexual infidelity are an eye opening indication of the importance they put upon it in a day which we are led to believe it was never considered.

As with many southern planters there have always been rumors of Washington fathering illegitimate children with his slaves. This ignores the fact that he was most likely sterile after his bout with smallpox when in Barbados as a youth, the only time Washington ever left the North American continent. One of these rumors asserts that Washington fathered a boy named West Ford at the Bushfield Plantation, over one hundred miles from Mount Vernon. The boy’s mother was a slave named Venus. Washington’s voluminous records and diaries show no mention of his visiting Bushfield during the necessary time window to comply with the rumor.

Another rumor which is clearly false has Washington being forced to flee from the bed of his overseer’s wife on a cold, snowy night, unclothed, and sneaking into the main house undetected by anyone. It was this act from which he contracted the throat infection which would quickly kill him, with the aid of the doctors who attended him. Washington’s famous reserve and self-control prevented him from alluding to sex in his writings and public appearances, and while it is well known that he enjoyed the company of young women and their attention, there is little evidence of his sexual nature.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Abigail as she appeared around the time of her marriage to John Adams.Wikimedia

John Adams

John Adams has gone down in history as the epitome of an uptight New England prude, with an equally prudish wife. His regard of the French when he arrived in Paris, and of his fellow delegate Benjamin Franklin, reflects his standoffish nature. But in his letters to his wife Abigail and in hers to him there is something of a different nature. John and Abigail endured long separations in dangerous times, but in their correspondence, which is our gift as a result, there is much insight into the lives of their contemporaries.

Adams determined early in his life to remain celibate until his marriage, a feat of which he was proud to speak. In his diary an entry reads, “My children may be assured that no illegitimate son or daughter exists,” a claim made with evident pride in the fact, for it was not his intention that his diary be read during his lifetime. He married Abigail Smith in October 1764; the following July she gave birth to their first child. They eventually had five children together, and another pregnancy ended with a stillborn child. This was over a period of twelve years, during which Adams was frequently away for extended periods, so he clearly had an active sex life.

During his long absences they exchanged an extraordinarily large amount of letters and unlike Jefferson and Washington’s correspondence with their wives these letters survive. John Adams would often coin pet names for his wife in his letters, including “Miss Adorable” and referred to her often as his “Dearest Friend.” His wife responded in kind. She also maintained a steady correspondence with other Founders, and used the information and gossip received from these sources to keep her husband up to date with the news from Congress and the other states.

Beyond the number of children the Adams’ raised there is nothing to indicate their views on sex and sexual behavior other than a stern Yankee disapproval of the behavior of some of their contemporaries. When Abigail joined her husband in France and later as the Ambassador to England she was clearly aghast at the licentiousness there, in the salons of Paris and in the streets of London. Abigail once wrote to John of Alexander Hamilton, “Oh, I have read his heart in his wicked eyes many a time. The very devil is in them. They are lasciviousness itself.”

Bawdy drinking songs which used language of a sexual nature and included a great deal of sexual innuendo were common during the days of the Founders and John Adams of necessity spent a great deal of time in taverns. Between leaving the President’s house in Philadelphia and entering the White House he lived in a Washington tavern. But he neither participated nor commented on the widely accepted entertainment with its references to sex. Whatever his thoughts on the matter were, he kept them to himself.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
An engraving of Dolley Madison as she appeared while her husband James was serving as Jefferson’s Secretary of State. University of Texas

James Madison

James Madison is one of the Fathers of the Constitution, the author of many of the compromises which allowed the Constitutional Convention to succeed in producing a working government. He is also regarded as the Father of the Bill of Rights. Madison was inarguably a political genius and a capable debater and writer, but he did not cast a large physical presence. He was just under 5’4″ in height and would have likely been able to follow a career as a jockey had he chose, weighing only about 100 pounds. He likely wouldn’t have been noticed when he entered a room anyway, and when he entered one with his wife she was the immediate center of attention.

Madison’s wife was the former Dolley Payne Todd, a 26 year old widow when she married him. He was 43. Dolley was already well known in the fledgling Washington social circles when Madison entered the White House, having served as Jefferson’s hostess on occasion when the widowed President needed someone to perform that role. Madison did not marry until he was in his forties but he spent time courting several women before settling down. Contrary to what many believe, the Madison’s had an active sex life and a happy marriage, as evidenced in their letters to each other and to friends.

Dolley Madison became famous for her beauty, but viewing her many portraits does not reveal it to 21st century eyes. In her day she was better known for her charm and boisterousness. She was a large woman and once when she received a pair of silk hose she responded that they were too small even for, “…my darling little husband.” A frequent house guest and long-time friend of the couple wrote that the Madisons, “…romp and tease each other like two children.” This was long after Madison left the White House and was home again in Virginia at his Montpelier plantation.

Dolley was known to grab her husband’s hands and pull him up on her back, to race around the room or the front lawn at Montpelier with the former President laughing, to the amusement of the children and other guests which were a constant presence there. Madison’s surviving letters to Dolley reveal a passionate side to his character which is frequently ignored. Her letters, both to her husband and more often to friends and relatives reveal an equal passion and a deep love which existed between them. Rumors and myths about Dolley’s infidelity and Madison’s indifference to it existed during their marriage, which lasted 42 years.

Many of the rumors which led to the myths of Dolley’s infidelity began with the vicious politics of his day, in which she was portrayed by enemies to be a woman of little or no morals. They were expanded upon by the British during the War of 1812, and added to by the New England states which voiced moral outrage at the behavior which existed only in the minds of the British propagandists. These reached a height during the British invasion and burning of Washington in 1814. In truth there is no evidence of Dolley Madison’s extramarital affairs beyond contemporaneous gossip and there is every indication that the married life of James Madison and his wife was happy, boisterous, and loving.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
A copy of the opening paragraph of a story describing Jefferson and his “concubine”. Wikimedia

False sexual rumors and innuendo

Nearly all of the Founders were the subject of sexually charged rumors and innuendo during their lifetimes, for a variety of reasons, most of which were created by political enmity. It was common at the time for newspaper articles to appear with the true authorship concealed by an alias, often with elaborate pen names usurped from antiquity. Such attacks, even when the true authorship was known, could not be fought in the press without amplification of the falsehood, and to try to do so was self-defeating. Many of the rumors exist today, still fed by poor scholarship.

An example is the multitude of attacks on James Madison which portrayed him as weak, vacillating, and ineffective, unable to keep the loyalty of his own wife due to his impotence as a leader, with the obvious implication that he was impotent elsewhere. These attacks occurred in the press, were repeated in the taverns and other public places, and it became commonplace for Madison’s political enemies to destroy the reputation of the President’s wife, not yet referred to as the First Lady. That Madison always appeared soberly dressed in public, with his wife towering over him, simply added fuel to his enemies fires.

Another reason many of the Founders were attacked in the press was that many of them were Freemasons. This led to assertions that George Washington and many of the other Founders being described by those attacking Freemasonry as participating in rituals involving anal penetration. Their accusers described them using a wooden spike of the sort which was used to peg ship hull planking together, nails of the day being insufficient for the purpose because they would soon rust and dissolve away.

It was during Jefferson’s day that the first rumors appeared that he had fathered children by his slave or slaves, with numbers ranging from one to as many as fifteen. Jefferson had taken Sally Hemings with him to Paris as a servant and companion for his daughter and to be trained in the art of French cooking. Today there is DNA evidence that the Hemings and Jefferson lines are mixed, but it is still debated whether Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings’ son Madison Hemings, or if the line was mixed before or after by another Jefferson descendant or ancestor. Sally Hemings family had been among the slaves inherited by Jefferson from his father, Peter Jefferson.

All of this gives evidence that sex was very much on the mind of the Founders and the public which they served. In the Royal courts of Europe the presence of wives and mistresses freely intermingling with each other was taken for granted. In the emerging United States it quickly became a subject to be considered a taboo, and when it was brought to light it was for the purpose of denigration of character for political gain. Many of the character assassination tactics applied then remain damaging to the character of the historical figure today.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
Peter Stephen du Ponceau was one of Von Steuben’s many consorts while serving in the Continental Army. Wikimedia

Baron Wilhelm Von Steuben

Von Steuben was not one of the political Founders of the United States, but without his contributions to the formation of a disciplined army there would likely have been no nation. Von Steuben inserted military discipline and tactics in an army which had previously shown little of either. He did so despite the snickers of many of the troops under him who were amused by his antics, his deliberate and slow cursing in multiple languages, his dogs which followed him everywhere, and the fact that he was a homosexual, with his lover serving as his aide.

Von Steuben had fled from the Courts in Hechingen to Paris to avoid a scandal which involved a homosexual seduction. He was on the verge of being arrested in Paris for a similar event when the matter was brought to the attention of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin abetted Von Steuben’s exit from the capital through the dispensing of some well-placed cash and provided Von Steuben with a letter of introduction to Congress and to George Washington. Franklin did not refer to the charges against Von Steuben to Congress, but he did hint at the nature of Von Steuben’s troubles to Washington.

Franklin also wildly exaggerated Von Steuben’s credentials to Washington, which may or may not have been deliberate. When Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge he was accompanied by his young aide and lover, Peter du Ponceau, another young aide, and two additional officers who were traveling with them. Washington was also made aware of the relationship between Von Steuben and his aides by the troops who were assigned to act as their guards in camp. In a short time it was an open secret that there was something different about the Prussian drillmaster, but it did not impede his duties, nor his effectiveness.

At least two other officers in the Continental Army were rumored to have been involved with Von Steuben during the time he served under Washington. Both of these men were later “adopted” by the Prussian following the war, when he opted to remain in America rather than return to Europe. Von Steuben made these two officers his heirs in his will. Du Ponceau too remained in the United States, settling in Philadelphia and becoming an internationally known expert in linguistics, including many of the languages of the Native American peoples.

Von Steuben retired to an estate in Oneida County, New York, after living for a time following the war on an estate loaned to him by the State of New Jersey. Eventually he acquired title to that estate and sold it to pay off debts before relocating to New York. He never publicly admitted his sexual bias, out of awareness of the laws which made it illegal at the time, but it was hardly a secret either in Europe or the United States. He may well have been the first example of “don’t ask don’t tell” in the military of the United States.

10 Tales From the Relationships Of Our Founding Fathers
John Randolph of Roanoke was a fiery tempered orator with a soprano voice. Wikimedia

John Randolph of Roanoke

John Randolph was afflicted with a condition which made him both beardless and possessed of a high pitched, prepubescent voice. He contracted tuberculosis in his youth, which had an ill-effect on his health throughout his life. He was a contemporary of many of the Founders and was one of the youngest men ever elected to Congress, winning his seat in the Sixth congress at the age of 26. He never married, was possessed of a ferocious temper, and strutted about the Halls of the Capitol in Washington wearing riding boots, spurs, and carrying a riding crop. He appears to have been asexual.

Randolph claimed, as did many of the First Families of Virginia, to have been descended from Pocahontas. He dressed in a manner which would be called Beau Brummel in England. Despite the handicap of his childish sounding voice, he was an accomplished orator and persuasive speaker, especially when campaigning. In addition to his other perceived inadequacies he was slightly built and small, and he compensated for these handicaps with an unbridled aggression. He once fought a duel with Henry Clay.

Randolph frequently appeared on the floor in Congress with his dogs and slaves accompanying him, and Clay as Speaker of the House ordered the dogs be removed. The two were already political opponents and the resulting duel was bloodless. Still, Randolph’s belligerent manner was untamed. He fought another Congressman in a Washington boarding house and again on the House floor, requiring bystanders to separate them. He fought him again in a Capitol stairwell, where he beat the Congressman, Willis Alston with his cane until he was bloody. Randolph had been offended when Alston referred to him as a “puppy.”

Randolph appears to have substituted opium for sex, and was well known as a heavy user of opium for most of his adult life. Some have speculated that this may have been to eradicate the pain of tuberculosis symptoms, but he was a heavy opium user long before the tuberculosis he likely contracted from his brother as a child exhibited itself in him. The tuberculosis while latent may have prevented the onset of puberty in him, explaining both his childish voice and his evident lack of interest in any type of sexual activity.

Randolph once said that he loved liberty but as an aristocrat he hated equality. When he died, his will directed the manumission of his slaves, and the purchase of lands for them in Ohio, with each man over the age of forty receiving ten acres of their own land. Nearly 400 former Randolph slaves settled in Ohio near present day Rumley based on these provisions. Randolph died in Philadelphia in 1833 while waiting for a ship which was to carry him to England. Because he never entered puberty, he could be called the boy who never grew up, even after serving in Congress, the Senate, and as Minister to Russia.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway”, by Charles B. Van Pelt, American Heritage Magazine, August 1971

“Ben Franklin’s Dangerous Liaisons”, by William Ecenbarger, The Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1990

“Alexander Hamilton’s Adultery and Apology”, by Angela Serratore, The Smithsonian Magazine, July 25 2013

“The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris,” edited by Anne Cary Morris, 1888

“George Washington, A Biography”, by John R. Alden, 1993

“John Adams”, by David McCullough, 2001

“Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Madison”, by Richard N. Cote, 2005

“Sex and the Founding Fathers”, by Thomas Foster, 2014

“The Magnificent Fraud”, by Thomas Fleming, American Heritage Magazine, February/March 2005

“Unforgiving Cousin: John Randolph of Roanoke”, by Francis Biddle, American Heritage Magazine, August 1961