John Randolph Tucker (politician)

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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
1881
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
Spouse(s) Laura Holmes Powell Tucker
Children Henry St. George Tucker others
Profession lawyer, professor

John Randolph Tucker (December 24, 1823 – February 13, 1897) was an American lawyer, author, and politician from Virginia. From a distinguished slaveholding family, he was elected Virginia's attorney general in 1857 and after re-election served during the American Civil War (James S. Wheat served as attorney general in Union-held portions of the state). After a pardon and Congressional Reconstruction, Tucker was elected as U.S. Congressman (1875-1887), and later served as the first dean of the Washington and Lee University Law School.[1][2]

Early life and family[edit]

Tucker was born in Winchester, Virginia on Christmas eve in 1823, the son of Anna Evalina Hunter Tucker (1789-1855) and her husband Judge Henry St. George Tucker (1780-1848). A grandson of St. George Tucker, J.R. Tucker would become proud of his heritage among the First Families of Virginia. His father and many relatives owned plantations and enslaved persons. Nonetheless, several of his siblings never reached adulthood. His brothers Dr. Alfred Bland Tucker (1830-1862) and Lt.Col. St. George Hunter Tucker (1828-1863) would die of consumption while in the Confederate States Army; his brother Dr. David Hunter Tucker (1815-1871) became a professor at three medical schools including the Medical College of Virginia and survived his Confederate service. His brother Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1820-1890) would become a Confederate diplomat and later a journalist.

John Randolph Tucker attended a private school near his Winchester home, then entered the Richmond Academy. He finished his studies at the University of Virginia, graduating with a legal degree in 1844.

He married Laura Powell in 1848. They had one son who survived to adulthood, Henry St. George Tucker, III (who later became a U.S. Congressman). Their daughters who married well and survived their parents included: Anne Holmes Tucker McGuire (1850 - 1914), Gertrude Tucker Logan (1856 - 1925), and Laura Randolph Tucker Pendleton (1860 - 1946).

Early legal and political career[edit]

John Randolph Tucker was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1845, and began a private legal practice in Winchester. In 1854 he delivered a major speech to the literary societies at College of William and Mary which argued that slavery was consistent with republicanism. He also became active in politics and was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1852 and 1856.

American Civil War[edit]

Voters elected Tucker Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1857, and he served during the American Civil War, until the Commonwealth surrendered to Union forces in 1865. His siblings also actively supported the Confederate cause, two as Confederate doctors, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker as a Confederate diplomat, and his lawyer brother St. George Hunter Tucker recruited the Ashland Grays (part of the 15th Virginia Infantry) and served at Lt. Col., winning plaudits for his conduct at the Battle of Malvern Hill before resigning his commission and dying of consumption in Charlottesville in 1863.

Postwar legal and political career[edit]

J. Randolph Tucker received a pardon and resumed his private legal practice.

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]

Later legal and academic 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.

Death and legacy[edit]

John Randolph Tucker died in 1897 in Lexington, Virginia and is buried in the family plot at Mt. Hebron cemetery in Winchester.[3] His widow would join him in 1916. One of his sons, Henry St. George Tucker, III, would follow in his footsteps by becoming Dean of the Washington and Lee Law School, and later a U.S. Congressman representing Winchester (1922-1932). J.R.Tucker's 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.[4]

Works[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ https://law.wlu.edu/about-wandl-law/leadership/aba-presidents Biography at Washington & Lee Law School
  2. ^ CongBio|T000401
  3. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7685970
  4. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 

References[edit]

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

1875–1885
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

1885–1887
Succeeded by
Jacob Yost
Academic offices
Preceded by
Position established
Dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law
1893–1897
Succeeded by
Charles A. Graves