Scandal at Bizarre: Sex, Rhetoric, and Reality in Jefferson’s Virginia

Cynthia Kierner

This talk tells the story of a scandal the engulfed the Randolphs of Virginia in the 1790s, placing the alleged sexual liaison between Richard Randolph and his sister-in-law in a wider historical context. Relations between women and men, masters and slaves, and gentry and commonfolk were unstable and contested in the decades following the Revolution. In this environment, rumors of sex–and perhaps murder, too–gave rise to a full-blown scandal that touched Virginians ranging from the slaves of Cumberland County to future president Thomas Jefferson.

A/V requirements: LCD, Screen