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Wisconsin Historical Images

Governor Alexander Randall

Governor Alexander Randall
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Title: Governor Alexander Randall
Description: Portrait of the governor in the executive chamber.

Image ID: 2885
Cogswell, William
Museum Collection
Genre: Painting
"Randall, Alexander Williams (Oct. 31, 1819-July 26, 1872), lawyer, politician, governor, U.S. postmaster general, b. Ames, Montgomery County, N.Y. He attended Cherry Valley Academy (N.Y.), and read law in his father's office. In 1840 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Prairieville (now Waukesha), where he set up a law practice and in 1845 was named postmaster. A delegate to the first state constitutional convention (1846), Randall introduced and pushed through the convention a resolution to submit the question of Negro suffrage to state-wide referendum. In the state's first presidential election, Randall supported the Free Soil party (1848). In 1855 he served one term in the state assembly as an independent Democrat, and while in the legislature helped secure the election of Charles Durkee, Wisconsin's first Republican U.S. Senator. That fall, Randall was an unsuccessful candidate for state's attorney general on the Republican ticket, but in 1856 received an appointment from Republican Governor Coles Bashford to fill the unexpired term of 2nd circuit judge, Levi Hubbell, and served briefly in that capacity (Sept. 1856-Apr. 1857). In 1857 Randall was elected governor, was re-elected in 1859, and served two terms (Jan. 1858-Jan. 1862). Randall's first term in office was made notable by his initiation of a legislative investigation of frauds in the distribution of federal land grants in Wisconsin; his second term, by his vigorous organization of the state for participation in the Civil War. Failing to be named to the U.S. Senate or to receive a military appointment at the close of his second term, Randall accepted the post of minister to the Papal States (1862). Dissatisfied with this position, he returned to the U.S., and in 1862 was named assistant postmaster general. He served in this capacity until July, 1866, when, as a reward for his support and services, President Andrew Johnson advanced him to the postmaster generalship. Loyal to Johnson, Randall testified on his behalf at his impeachment and also contributed to his defense fund. Out of favor because of his support of Johnson and because of 'desertion' of the Republican party, Randall retired at the conclusion of Johnson's term. He settled in Elmira, N.Y., and practiced law there until his death." (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, 1960, p. 297.)
Subjects: Portraits
Civil War, 1861-1865

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