Alexander Randall

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Alexander Randall
22nd United States Postmaster General
In office
July 25, 1866 – March 4, 1869
Preceded by William Dennison, Jr.
Succeeded by John Creswell
6th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 4, 1858 – January 6, 1862
Lieutenant Erasmus D. Campbell
Butler G. Noble
Preceded by Coles Bashford
Succeeded by Louis P. Harvey
Personal details
Born Alexander Williams Randall
(1819-10-31)October 31, 1819
Ames, New York
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Elmira, New York
Political party Republican
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Judge

Alexander Williams Randall (October 31, 1819– July 26, 1872) was a lawyer, judge and politician from Wisconsin. He served as the sixth Governor of Wisconsin from 1858 until 1861. He was instrumental in raising and organizing the first Wisconsin volunteer troops for the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Life and career

Randall was born in Ames, New York on October 31, 1819.[1] His father, Phineas, was judge of the court of common pleas there from 1837 to 1841. Randall attended Cherry Valley Academy in New York then studied law with his father.[2] He was admitted to the bar in New York at age 19.[1] Shortly after that, he moved to Wisconsin. He opened a law practice in Waukesha in 1840, where he became postmaster in 1845.[1][2]

Randall was a delegate to the state's first constitutional convention in 1846. There he successfully advocated for a resolution that would put the question of "Negro suffrage" to a statewide referendum.[3] He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1855.[1][4] From 1855 to 1857, he was a circuit judge in Milwaukee.[1]

Randall was elected governor in 1857 as a Republican, and won re-election in 1859.[1] He was a dark horse candidate in 1857. The two principal candidates in the convention that year were Edward D. Holton of Milwaukee and Walter McIndoe of Wausau. Holton's abolitionist passions and his connections with the Milwaukee elite gave him strong support, but McIndoe's more rough-hewn personality resonated better with the frontier character of the state at the time. As such, they split the vote, neither able to garner a majority for the nomination. When it became apparent that the convention was at an impasse, and the delegates were released from their obligation, the votes eventually were cast in favor of Randall, the obvious compromise candidate.[5] Randall was the first in a long line of Republican governors in Wisconsin.

As governor, Randall conducted an investigation of fraud in the distribution of federal railroad land grants in Wisconsin perpetrated by his predecessor.[2][6] Prior to the beginning of the Civil War, he was an ardent abolitionist and proposed that Wisconsin secede from the Union if Abraham Lincoln did not win the presidency.[7]

Once war began Randall raised 18 regiments, 10 artillery batteries, and three cavalry units before leaving office, exceeding Wisconsin's quota by 3,232 men. The Union Army created a military camp from the former state fairgrounds in Madison, Wisconsin, and named it "Camp Randall" after the governor. Camp Randall Stadium is now located on the site of the military camp.

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Randall U.S. Minister to the Papal States[2] and in 1863 Assistant Postmaster General.[1] President Andrew Johnson appointed him U.S. Postmaster General in 1866 and he remained in that position until 1869.[1] When Johnson was impeached, Randall remained loyal, testifying on Johnson's behalf and contributing to his defense fund.[2]

After leaving the federal government, Randall moved to Elmira, New York, where he resumed practicing law. He died there July 26, 1872.[1] He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Wisconsin Historical Society, Dictionary of Wisconsin History, "Term: Randall, Gov. Alexander W. (1819-1872)". Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Historical Images, "Governor Alexander Randall". Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  3. Michael J. McManus, Political Abolitionism in Wisconsin, 1840-1861. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1998, p. 28.
  4. Caryn Hannan (ed.), Wisconsin Biographical Dictionary. 2008-2009 ed. State History Publications, 2008, pp.334-335.
  5. "State Convention of 1857". The Milwaukee Sentinel. March 18, 1896. Retrieved January 7, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. National Governor's Association, "Wisconsin Governor Alexander Williams Randall". Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  7. Gayle Soucek, Chicago Calamities: Disaster in the Windy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010, p.54.
  8. "Alexander Randall". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-08-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Coles Bashford
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Louis P. Harvey
Preceded by
William Dennison, Jr.
United States Postmaster General
Served under: Andrew Johnson

1866 – 1869
Succeeded by
John A. J. Creswell