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.
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Published November 15, 2000
by Simon & Schuster.
Biographies & Memoirs, History, War.