Unwise Passions by Alan Pell Crawford
A True Story of a Remarkable Woman and the First Great Scandal of 18th Century America

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In the spring of 1793, eighteen-year-old Nancy Randolph, the fetching daughter of one of the greatest of the great Virginia tobacco planters, was accused, along with her brother-in-law, of killing her newborn infant. Once one of the loveliest and most sought-after young women in Virginia society, she was immediately denounced as a ruined Jezebel, and the great orator Patrick Henry and future Supreme Court justice John Marshall were retained to defend her in her sensational trial. In the tradition of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," Alan Pell Crawford brings to life this gripping account of murder, infanticide, and prostitution charges, and of unimaginable treachery, moral decline, and great heroism played out in the intimate lives of this nation's Founding Fathers. It is the true story of the privileged and pampered children of the new country's aristocratic families as they struggle to find their place in an increasingly democratic America, where their values and position in society are under siege. Above all, it is the story of the indomitable Nancy Randolph, who is hounded out of Virginia by a scandal that will haunt her and everyone she loves for the rest of their lives. In the early 1790s, after Nancy goes to live with her sister Judith and handsome brother-in-law Richard at their remote plantation, called Bizarre, rumors fly throughout Virginia that Nancy has given birth and Richard, knowing the child to be his, has killed it. After an inquest, Nancy is ordered off the plantation by her cousin John Randolph and, reduced to poverty, she must find her way in a new and forbidding world. Eventually she flees to New York where she forms an unlikely alliancewith the immensely rich Gouverneur Morris, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Meanwhile John Randolph, a "protege" of Thomas Jefferson who becomes a notorious wit and controversial member of Congress, a duelist and a drug addict, spends most of his life campaigning against her. After Morris's death, Nancy must fight for her honor once again -- Morris's relatives are eager to have a piece of his estate and to see her disinherited. American history at its richest, with a cast of characters including not only the haughty Randolphs, but Jefferson, Henry, Morris, and Marshall, "Unwise Passions" is as riveting and revealing as any current scandal -- in or out of Washington.

About Alan Pell Crawford

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Alan Pell Crawford is the author of Thunder on the Right: The "New Right" and The Politics of Resentment, which The New Republic called "a significant work of political and intellectual history." A vice-president of Emergence Brand Labs, he lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Sally Curran, and their two sons, Ned and Tim.
Published November 15, 2000 by Simon & Schuster. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction

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Now known as the Jezebel of Virginia, she moved north, settling in New York and marrying renowned New York politician Gouverneur Morris.

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The events it recounts may not have been major ones in American history, but their telling casts light on many issues–not just on the condition of the Old South, but also on the status of women, the uncertain state of medical knowledge, the complex threads of family life, the power of gossip and ...

Aug 11 2001 | Read Full Review of Unwise Passions : A True Stor...

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