John Randolph Tucker (politician)

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For other people with the same name, see John Tucker.
John Randolph Tucker
John Randolph Tucker 1823-1897 - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 3, 1887
Preceded by District re-established
William G. Brown, Sr. before district abolished in 1863
Succeeded by Jacob Yost
Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary
In office
March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1887
Preceded by Thomas Brackett Reed
Succeeded by David B. Culberson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1885
Preceded by Thomas Whitehead
Succeeded by John W. Daniel
Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means
In office
Preceded by Fernando Wood
Succeeded by William D. Kelley
8th Attorney General of Virginia
In office
June 13, 1857 – May 9, 1865
Contested with James S. Wheat:
June 21, 1861 – December 7, 1863
Contested with Thomas Russell Bowden:
December 7, 1863 – May 6, 1865
Governor Henry A. Wise
John Letcher
William Smith
Preceded by Willis P. Bocock
Succeeded by Thomas Russell Bowden
Personal details
Born December 24, 1823
Winchester, Virginia
Died February 13, 1897(1897-02-13) (aged 73)
Lexington, Virginia
Resting place Winchester, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Profession lawyer, professor

John Randolph Tucker (December 24, 1823 – February 13, 1897) was an American lawyer, author, and politician from Virginia. He was a member of the Tucker family, which was influential in the legal and political affairs of the state of Virginia and the United States for many years.

Early life and family[edit]

Tucker was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of Henry St. George Tucker, and grandson of St. George Tucker. He received his early education at a private school near his home, entered Richmond Academy, and finished his studies at the University of Virginia, where he graduated in law in 1844. He married Laura Powell in 1848. They had a single son, Henry St. George Tucker, III and several daughters.

Law and political career[edit]

He was admitted to the bar in 1845, and began the practice of law in Winchester. In 1854 he delivered a major speech to the literary societies at William and Mary, which argued that slavery was consistent with republicanism. He was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1852 and 1856. Tucker was Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1857 to 1865. He was dispossessed of this office by the results of the American Civil War, and resumed the practice of law.

Elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1875, he served until 1887. He was chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means in the 46th Congress and chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary in the 48th and 49th Congresses.

He took an active part in the debates on the tariff, in opposition to the protective policy. His speeches on other questions include those on the Electoral Commission bill, the constitutional doctrine as to the presidential count, the Hawaiian treaty in 1876, the use of the army at the polls, in 1879, and Chinese emigration, in 1883. He introduced legislation broadening the power of the federal Court of Claims to hear Constitutional claims in 1886. This became known as the Tucker Act. He declined to be renominated to the House in 1886.

Electoral History[edit]

  • 1874; Tucker was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 65.23% of the vote, defeating Republican J. Foote Johnson.
  • 1876; Tucker was re-elected with 59.61% of the vote, defeating Republican George H. Burch.
  • 1878; Tucker was re-elected with 63.42% of the vote, defeating Independent Democrat Camm Patterson and Independent Lewis W. Cabell.
  • 1880; Tucker was re-elected with 59.56% of the vote, defeating Readjuster James A. Frazier and Republican David J. Woodfin.
  • 1882; Tucker was re-elected with 54.95% of the vote, defeating Readjuster Henry J. Rives and Republican Woodfin.
  • 1884; Tucker was re-elected, but to Virginia's 10th congressional district

Later career[edit]

Tucker made an unsuccessful but legally influential argument on behalf of August Spies and the other Haymarket Riot defendants during their appeal to the Supreme Court. Elected professor of Constitutional law at Washington and Lee University in 1888, Tucker was Dean of the School of Law from 1893 to 1897. Tucker served as president of The Virginia Bar Association in 1891-1892, and president of the American Bar Association in 1894.

He died in 1897 in Lexington, Virginia and is buried in Winchester. His two volume treatise, The Constitution of the United States, appeared posthumously in 1899. His Lexington home, Blandome was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas Whitehead
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
John W. Daniel
Preceded by
William G. Brown, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jacob Yost
Academic offices
Preceded by
Position established
Dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law
Succeeded by
Charles A. Graves