Herschel V. Johnson
Confederate States Senator
from Georgia
In office
January 19, 1863 – May 10, 1865
Preceded byJohn Lewis
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
41st Governor of Georgia
In office
November 9, 1853 – November 6, 1857
Preceded byHowell Cobb
Succeeded byJoseph Brown
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
February 4, 1848 – March 4, 1849
Appointed byGeorge W. Towns
Preceded byWalter Colquitt
Succeeded byWilliam Dawson
Personal details
Herschel Vespasian Johnson

(1812-09-18)September 18, 1812
Burke County, Georgia, U.S.
DiedAugust 16, 1880(1880-08-16) (aged 67)
Louisville, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAnn Polk Walker
EducationUniversity of Georgia (BA)

Herschel Vespasian Johnson (September 18, 1812 – August 16, 1880) was an American politician. He was the 41st Governor of Georgia from 1853 to 1857 and the vice presidential nominee of the Douglas wing of the Democratic Party in the 1860 U.S. presidential election. He also served as one of Georgia's Confederate States senators.

Early life

Johnson was born near Farmer's Bridge in Burke County, Georgia. In 1834, he graduated from the University of Georgia. He studied at the private law school of Judge William T. Gould in Augusta, Georgia and was admitted to the bar.

He moved to Jefferson County in 1839 and began to practice law in Louisville, Georgia. In 1844, Johnson moved to the state capitol, Milledgeville, where he continued to practice law.[citation needed] During the 1850s, he would acquire the Samuel Rockwell House, a historic house in the city, as his summer house.[1]

Political life

Herschel V. Johnson around the time he ran for vice president

He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1843. In 1844 he was a presidential elector, and cast his ballot for James K. Polk and George M. Dallas. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1847, and lost the Democratic nomination to George W. Towns; Towns won the general election, and in 1848 he appointed Johnson to the United States Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Walter T. Colquitt. Johnson served from February 4, 1848, to March 3, 1849, but was not a candidate for election to the seat. He returned to Georgia and served as a circuit court judge from 1849 to 1853. In 1853, he was elected Governor of Georgia, then re-elected in 1855. During the 1856 presidential campaign, Johnson declared that a Fremont victory would be grounds for secession. After he finished his term as governor in 1857,[2] Johnson County, Georgia was named in his honor. In 1860, when the Democratic Party refused to add the support of extending slavery to the western territories to its platform, the party split. To try to recapture some southern votes, Johnson was chosen as the northern Democrats' nominee as the running mate of presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas.[3]

Johnson was a presidential elector in 1852.[4]

He was also a slave owner. In 1840, he owned 34 slaves in Jefferson County, Georgia.[5] In 1850, he owned 7 slaves in Milledgeville, Georgia.[6] He also owned 60 additional slaves in Jefferson County, Georgia.[7] In 1860, he owned 115 slaves in Jefferson County, Georgia.[8]

Civil War

In 1861 he served as a delegate to the state secession convention, and opposed secession from the Union. When it became clear that Georgia would secede, however, he acquiesced out of loyalty to his state and served as a senator of the Second Confederate Congress from 1862 to the end of the war in 1865. In the Confederate Senate, he opposed conscription and the suspension of habeas corpus. After the Civil War, Johnson was a leader in the Reconstruction and was named head of the Georgia constitutional convention. Upon Georgia's readmission to the Union in 1866, he was chosen as a U.S. Senator, but was disallowed from serving due to his allegiance to the Confederate States of America. He again became a circuit court judge in 1873 and served until his death in 1880 in Louisville, Georgia.

See also


  1. ^ Coughlin, Daniel (August 13, 2019). "The mysterious abandoned mansion rumored to be built on gold". MSN. Microsoft. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  2. ^ Dixon, David T. (Fall 2010). "Augustus R. Wright and the Loyalty of the Heart". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 94 (3). Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  3. ^ Wortman, Marc (2009). The Bonfire : The Siege and Burning of Atlanta. New York: PublicAffairs. p. 94. ISBN 9781586484828. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  4. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. I. New York, N.Y.: James T. White & Company. 1898. pp. 226–227 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ 1840 United States Census, United States census, 1840; District 85, Jefferson, Georgia;.
  6. ^ "1850 United States Census, Slave Schedules", United States census, 1850; Milledgeville, Baldwin, Georgia;.
  7. ^ "1850 United States Census, Slave Schedules", United States census, 1850; District 48, Jefferson, Georgia;.
  8. ^ "1860 United States Census, Slave Schedules", United States census, 1860; District 85, Jefferson, Georgia; page 464-465,.