Date: 22/01/2022
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John Randolph of Roanoke

I did not read Alan Wolfe's piece on Russell Kirk, but I noticed in several of the responses a tendency to shrug at Kirk's admiration for John Randolph of Roanoke, radical member of the first (Jeffersonian) Republican party.

John Randolph never deserves a shrug. He often deserves a laugh, for his grotesque attitudinizing. He sometimes deserves admiration, for his flashes of brilliance and courage. And he often deserves scorn, for his theories of government, which I find childish, but are certainly arguable, and his racial politicking, which was inarguably noxious. The private Randolph freed his slaves in his will; the public Randolph did all he could to make the Civil War inevitable.

Russell Kirk had a Gone With the Wind view of the South, but he was certainly mindful of the contradictions and shortcomings of the people he admired. (He also admired the Adamses, who loathed Randolph and were loathed by him.) We should emulate the second quality.