A Chronicle of an International Leadership Record: Jennings Randolph and
The Search for Food and Energy Security (1979-1995)

sponsored by
The Agribusiness Council
in cooperation with
Agri-Energy Roundtable

All Rights Reserved

The Jennings Randolph Recognition Project (JRRP) was initiated after the June 4, 1998 memorial service in the U.S. Capitol sponsored by The Agribusiness Council (ABC) and hosted by Randolph's former colleague, U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.

U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia served in the U.S. Congress over five decades before retiring in 1985. Sworn into office with the New Deal landslide and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, Randolph served seven terms in the House of Representatives and later was elected to the United States Senate where he completed five terms and became a living legend. Throughout his legislative career Randolph championed the disabled and "the man and woman by the wayside of the road" as well as renewable energy, public works, the environment, and aviation/aerospace.

During his last Senate term Randolph turned his attention to international affairs and pioneered some impressive programs to which his unique style of leadership and senior statesmanship were particularly well-suited. One initiative, a nonprofit and tax-exempt association called "Agri-Energy Roundtable" (AER), gained U.N. recognition and world acclaim through the Interparliamentary Union. Another effort, the U.S. Institute of Peace, was signed into law over heavy opposition of the Reagan Administration. 

At a time when food and energy security issues continue to dominate international economic agendas, Randolph's leadership and personal campaign for sustainable trade/development ideas -- forged through ten years of chairing the Agri-Energy Roundtable -- spark new thinking about traditional agriculture and natural resource management. His action inspired many people around the world, yet has been relatively unexplored. The record of the Agri-Energy Roundtable, which has continued to develop since Randolph left Washington in 1988, is being evaluated in the context of the food/energy nexus and related issues which sparked its formation. Similarly, Randolph's vision of the role of nonprofit associations, such as AER, is being explored in the wider search for international economic peacekeeping and civility.

Eldora Nuzum, The Inter-Mountain

WILD, WONDERFUL "WET" VIRGINIA -- President Jimmy Carter holds the umbrella for U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph during the West Virginia State Forest Festival (1978). President Carter is an important contributor to ABC's Heritage Preservation Committee projects.

Food/Energy Nexus: Improving Dialogue with OPEC
Senator Randolph rejected the confrontational "bushel for a barrel" rhetoric which emerged in the late 1970s when agricultural and energy prices spiralled upwards generating world inflation. As many Americans, he was concerned with dependence on foreign energy, and he endorsed various alternate and renewable energy programs as part of a national strategy to reach greater independence. But it was Randolph's leadership in the Agri-Energy Roundtable that underscored his fervent desire to build bridges between the energy-surplus and agricultural-exporting nations. The diplomatic "dialogue" approach with OPEC nations, embodied in AER activities, enabled Randolph to advance cooperative agricultural and energy projects with key Third World leaders.

In 1979, Randolph sponsored a unique, high-level exchange between U.S. and Arab leaders which led to the first multilateral roundtable meeting in February 1980 at the port city of New Orleans. Ironically, this came amid the turmoil of the Carter Administration's Soviet grain embargo, and the port was clogged with barges and ships as nervous farmers and their worldwide customers wondered about U.S. reliability as a food supplier. Randolph later enlisted corporate support for the AER from leading multinational petroleum and agribusiness firms.

Contrasted to the negative, media-driven political figures of the late 1990s, Randolph represents the best of the "old-school" politicians. He was an honorable politician whose leadership style, so clearly illustrated in international campaigns, presents an important legacy for consideration by today's leaders and future generations. JRRP's programs and publication highlight aspects of Randolph's endearing nature as well as the decisions and skills which made him so effective.

(Photo courtesy of Jennings Randolph Recognition Project)

STATE DINNER GUEST--Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) is introduced to PRC Premier Zhao by President Ronald Reagan at White House (January 10, 1984). This occasion enabled Randolph to advance Agri-Energy Roundtable (AER)'s mission to China.

The Jennings Randolph Recognition Project (JRRP) seeks to:

  • Chronicle, publish and disseminate materials highlighting Jennings Randolph's character and leadership, especially in the areas which are not well-researched (i.e., international affairs);
  • Identify specific events, legislative campaigns and issues which feature Jennings Randolph's "people power/compassion" style, providing primers on "lessons learned" for young people;
  • Identify creative ways to highlight Randolph's many contributions to West Virginia, the United States, and the world;
  • Develop a database on specific agricultural and energy issues known to be favorites of Jennings Randolph -- and continue disseminating his views/speeches on such issues;
  • Expose and/or counter any falsehoods which may have been used to obscure Randolph's role in building legislative history;
  • Identify educational opportunities to promulgate examples of Randolph's character and virtues to young people;
  • Assist other organizations which espouse Randolph's views and/or share Randolph's priority aims as a great American populist;
  • Assist the official biographer in developing information on Randolph's international contributions;
  • Assist Salem International University (SIU) in organizing, preserving and protecting all of the Randolph papers and other documentation presently stored there to insure future generations have access to the historical record.


June 4, 1998

U.S. Senate Photographer

U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) eulogizes Jennings Randolph at a tribute sponsored by The Agribusiness Council. Seated  (left to right) are John Chafee (R-RI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Robert C. Byrd (D-WV).

Historical Education and Leadership: JR's Footprints on the 20th Century
As we advance into the new millenium watching the 20th century recede, there is growing nostalgia and interest in remembering history's milestones. Randolph's life spanned each decade, and he figured significantly during his legislative prime (1933-1985) in Washington, benefiting many.

The Jennings Randolph Recognition Project (JRRP) is generating positive benefits for historians and students interested in an intriguing case study of how one senior legislator demonstrated leadership on a world stage with a complex weave of issues providing "a window" on his times.

The JRRP is achieving its objectives through standard research techniques -- file and correspondence review, interviews with former colleagues and staff as well as those who served with Randolph on the AER board of directors, conference speeches by Randolph and conversation memoranda between JR and industrial/political leaders from around the world -- with interpretive analysis provided by AER/ABC staff who worked with Randolph.

Randolph's interest in the AER model reflected his own complex interests from high technology to alleviating hunger and malnutrition. The story of AER and Jennings Randolph has been chronicled, and its lessons will influence future Congressional and Executive Branch cooperation, understanding the potential of voluntary/nongovernmental organizations and associations in U.N.-related programs (i.e., food security), food/energy issues within an effective North/South dialogue, the role of enlightened private enterprise in the development of agro-food systems, and renewable energy as a key for sustainable agro-food development.

The JRRP publication serves as a guide during a critical timeframe in world history when individuals and institutions are seeking new ways of cooperating to solve the dilemma of world food security in the 21st century. The document highlights an important contemporary leader and his ideas at a time when leadership is needed.

FATHER OF THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM--As a young member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jennings Randolph pioneered joint resolutions and legislative proposals in the 1930s and early 1940s considered important antecedents in construction of the modern super-highway network.  In this photograph Randolph receives an award from Pat Moore (left) and Charles B. Donaldson (right) at a roadbuilders association meeting.  (Click here for “Hijacked Legacy: Ethanol and the Highway Trust).

Farm Issues and Agribusiness Concentration
Jennings Randolph was actively engaged in agricultural/rural development issues across his career beginning in the depths of the Great Depression and the New Deal. For example, he helped pioneer important "back to the farm" projects in West Virginia which renewed hope and food production in the Tygart Valley.

In today's farm crisis, Randolph's spirit and early work still resonate. He fought for the small producers and reminded audiences to "remember the man and woman by the wayside in the road." In some respects, JRRP dovetails these themes with the formation of the West Virginia Agribusiness Council (WV/ABC) and similar groups around the country as a response to the growing concentration of America's agro-food system. This system has provided many efficiencies which are the envy of the world -- and yet, serious distortions and inequities are being created (see ethanol subsidy).

In his last term in the Senate, Randolph resisted pressures from subsidy-seeking "big agribusiness," and his international outreach program (AER) seemed to threaten certain interests vested in maintaining the status quo. Randolph's grassroots model provided a cross-sectoral dialogue and a cooperative forum for problem-solving on food-systems issues. This framework produced a "big picture" perspective.

The resultant search for "common denominator" solutions actually jeopardized the plans of agribusiness tycoons whose profiteering depended, in part, on tight control and compartmentalizing of ag/food sectors while corrupting key governmental agencies and elected officials.

In March 1999, 23 senators wrote to President Clinton concerning concentration issues within the agribusiness sector. In the following November, legislation which would have imposed a moratorium on large mergers in the ag/food system was defeated 71-27. The U.S. Congress is continuing to focus on improved antitrust enforcement for agribusiness. As usual, Jennings Randolph was prescient in his understanding of what was happening -- not just for West Virginia, but also the wider world. ABC materials on this subject, including a speech discussed with Jennings Randolph in St. Louis shortly before his death, have been widely distributed in Congress.

BIOFUELS: PROS AND CONS--Senator Randolph listens as Dr. Agide Gorgatti Netto (Embrapa) describes Brazil's ethanol programs in May 1983. Randolph routinely used Agri-Energy Roundtable's Geneva platform to engage differing views on food/energy issues. Randolph's enthusiasm for synthetic fuels did not extend to corn-based ethanol which he privately disparaged as a "cruel hoax" on U.S. farmers.

Randolph Genealogy: Another Honorable Mention
In November 1999, at Shepherd College, JRRP announced some newly discovered genealogical links between Jennings Randolph and his ancestors, including CSA Lt. General James Longstreet, who was General Lee's most trusted subordinate. Longstreet was a distant cousin of Randolph, as both descended from Edmund Fitz-Randolph, but shared only a short time-window of life with each other (1902-04). Like Randolph, Longstreet spoke truth to power -- and he struggled for national reconciliation after the Civil War.

Both men suffered greatly in their later years, as the spinners of "political correctness" tried to airbrush their lives and accomplishments from memory. Longstreet, a visionary tactician who understood military technology and rendered open-field/frontal assaults futile, was unfairly blamed for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg. Seventy years later, Randolph was ridiculed in Congress while fighting for an aeronautical navy (i.e., aircraft carriers vs. battleships). In 1940, Randolph cast a decisive tie-breaking vote in the passage of the Draft Act providing President Roosevelt with a critical mandate helping to prepare the Nation for World War II.

For further information, see ABC's Heritage Preservation Committee (HPC), General Longstreet Recognition Project (GLRP), and William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project (WJBP).

RANDOLPH REVELERS -- A few members of the Elkins dinner group gather around the American Airlines portrait. From left to right are Mary Jones, Margaret Walsh, Nick Hollis and Pat Griffith, Wayne and Sue Sheets, Eldora Nuzum, Mary Frances Shepler, and Sachiko Wada.

Lecture/Slide Presentation Programs
JRRP has sparked a flurry of activities expanding awareness of and interest in Jennings Randolph. Since the memorial dinner on the first anniversary of his death, JRRP has conducted programs including reunions for historical, agricultural, university and senior groups. For example, JRRP spoke to the Cherry River Navy Admirals in Richwood, had discussions in the WV Senate with President Earl Ray Tomblin and others in Charleston, and completed that week of campaigning with an outdoor presentation for the Civilian Conservation Corps at Camp Woodbine followed by a meeting a Marshall University in Huntington and a gathering of friends in Elkins for Margaret Walsh's 96th birthday. More recently, JRRP has addressed audiences at the National Air and Space Museum (July 2002), the Romney Senior Center, George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Shepherd College, WV Senior Community Service Employees Program, Clarksburg Civic Club, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, South Charleston City Council, West Virginia-Ohio Youth Governors, Charles Town Kiwanis Club, YMCA Camp Horseshoe Hi-Y Leadership, and various historical groups including the Stonewall Jackson and Harpers Ferry Civil War Roundtables. 

KIWANI FETE --  Nick Hollis speaks on Jennings Randolph before audience in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

The New Populism
On September 18, 2000 a meeting in Jennings Randolph's home town of Salem, West Virginia, JRRP sparked considerable media interest calling for a "New Populism" dedicated to Randolph's spirit of citizenship activism on behalf of rural America and of the less fortunate (particularly small farmers), decency and humility in American politics.  The speech, entitled "Bryan and Randolph: Politics, Honor and Election 2000," was delivered by Nick Hollis before the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce (act now and join our "campaign -- see enrollment form below).

In the aftermath of Election 2000, young people seem particularly interested in Randolph's leadership style, his decency and humility. The JRRP campaign for citizenship education continues honoring "The Father of the 26th Amendment" by reminding audiences that Jennings Randolph's persistence made it possible for 18-20 year-olds to vote. His views are indeed gaining traction among students who could be a significant factor at the polls.

JRRP media coverage has been excellent, including an article with photos in the Randolph Herald February 21, 2002 "From Randolph to Washington" and Springfield Union News, May 13, 2002, "Hatfield Raid a Story of Courage, Heroism by Mike Plaisance.

LEGISLATORS LISTEN -- Nick Hollis (left) describes Jennings Randolph Recognition Project to West Virginia Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin. Seated are senior senators William R. Sharpe (center) and Jon Blair Hunter (right). Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, 4.12.04.

Financial Support

The Jennings Randolph Recognition Project is grateful to a growing list of benefactors:

U.S. Senator Brock Adams (ret)
Marion and Joe McQuade
West Virginia
Betsy Amin-Arsala
Washington DC
Admiral Thomas Moorer (ret)
Patricia C. Berger
Nancy Morrison
West Virginia
Bondex International
James A. Norman
West Virginia
President Jimmy Carter
U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (ret)
Edwin I. Colodny
U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (ret)
Rhode Island
James R. Cottrill
R.C. Powell
Dorothy U. Davis
West Virginia
John M. Pratt
Laura Goff Davis
West Virginia
Gustavo de los Reyes Delgado
Chief Joseph Esema
L. Wayne Sheets
West Virginia
General Electric Fund
Suzanne Snedegar
James A.H. Hafner, Jr.  
Daniel F. Snell
West Virginia
E. Davisson Hardman
West Virginia
Jessie V. Stone
James H. Harless
West Virginia
W. Clement Stone
U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (ret)
U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond
South Carolina
U.S. Senator Jesse Helms
North Carolina
U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings (ret)
Nicholas E. & Patricia G. Hollis
Washington DC
Hon. Cyrus R. Vance
New York
U.S. Senator Walter Huddleston (ret)
Margaret Walsh
West Virginia
Marion Jennings
Hays T. Watkins
Frances Brigham Johnson
Dr. David Waxman
West Virginia
Mary S. Jones
West Virginia
Bruce G. Wells
West Virginia
David King
Ohio-West Virginia YMCA
West Virginia AFL-CIO
West Virginia Agribusiness Council
George C. Lazar
Senator Eugene Whelan
Daniel P. Lutz
West Virginia
Margaret Wilson Young
West Virginia
George S. McGovern


Friends of U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph donated funds to renovate his childhood home as a retirement gift. For twenty years (1985 to 2005) this historic property housed the Jennings Randolph Center for Public Service and was filled with memorabilia from his long political career. His official papers and photographs are now in the West Virginia State Archives at Charleston, and the house has become the residence of Salem International University's president. A recent meeting at Salem featuring JRRP and the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project generated considerable media attention on "new populism."

by Jennings Randolph

Autumn days are wonder days
With colors red and gold
Summer is gone, fall is here
And the year is growing old.

Often I do like to think
That God with mystic hand
Has reached down from heaven
And painted all the land.

U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph enjoys a playful moment on a warm October afternoon.

"Problems are truly wonderful because we have the opportunity to solve them."
The Washington Star,
 November 6, 1978



Please consider a donation to the Jennings Randolph International Recognition Project (JRRP) which is tax-deductible under IRS Code 501(c)(3) with checks made payable to:

P.O. Box 5565
Washington, DC 20016

Tel: (202) 296-4563

"Building bridges through associations with peoples of the world"