Joseph F. Johnston
United States Senator
from Alabama
In office
August 6, 1907 – August 8, 1913
Preceded byEdmund Pettus
Succeeded byFrancis S. White
30th Governor of Alabama
In office
December 1, 1896 – December 1, 1900
Preceded byWilliam C. Oates
Succeeded byWilliam J. Samford
Personal details
Born(1843-03-23)March 23, 1843
Lincoln County, North Carolina, US
DiedAugust 8, 1913(1913-08-08) (aged 70)
Washington, D.C., US
Resting placeElmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseTheresa Virginia Hooper
ChildrenWilliam Hooper Johnston
Edward Douglas Johnston
Forney Johnston
Military service
AllegianceConfederate States of America Confederate States of America
Branch/service Confederate States Army
Rank Captain
UnitNorth Carolina 12th North Carolina Infantry[1]
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Joseph Forney Johnston (March 23, 1843 – August 8, 1913) was an American Democratic politician and businessman who was the 30th governor of Alabama from 1896 to 1900. He later served in the United States Senate from August 6, 1907, to his death on August 8, 1913. As a senator, he was chair of the U.S. Senate Committee to Establish a University of the United States.


Born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, on March 23, 1843, Johnston attended the rural public schools in North Carolina during his youth. Johnston moved to Talladega, Alabama, at the age of seventeen and attended a military academy. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Johnston enlisted as a private in the Confederate States Army. Johnston served through the duration of the war, receiving wounds at Chickamauga, Spotsylvania, New Market, and Petersburg. By the war's end, he attained the rank of captain.[2]

After returning from the war, Johnston studied law under William H. Forney and was admitted to the bar. He practiced law in Selma, Alabama, eventually moving to Birmingham to become president of the Alabama National Bank. In 1887, Johnston became president of the Sloss Iron & Steel company, an industry thriving in Alabama.[2]

Johnston first entered the political arena in 1890, when he ran for Alabama governor but lost to Thomas G. Jones. In 1896, he again ran for governor. He succeeded, serving two consecutive two-year terms as Governor of Alabama.[2] Johnston's achievements during his tenure as governor include tax reform, creation of the Alabama Department of Insurance, and the establishment of a state mine inspector.

Johnston decided not to seek another term as governor in 1900 and challenged John Tyler Morgan in that year's Senate election. Morgan defeated Johnston, and in 1902, Johnston sought a third term as governor against incumbent William D. Jelks. The revelation of several scandals involving Sloss Iron & Steel and misconduct in the prison system hurt Johnston, and he would ultimately lose the election.

However, Johnston attained political office again by being elected to complete Senator Edmund Pettus's term after Pettus had died in office in 1907. Johnston was re-elected in 1909 and served in the Senate until his death from pneumonia in 1913.[2]

Johnston was married to Theresa Virginia Hooper of South Carolina. They had three sons: William Hooper, Edward Douglas, and Forney.[1] He is buried in Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Joseph Forney Johnston". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Johnston, Joseph Forney". United States Congress. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
Party political offices Preceded byWilliam C. Oates Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama 1896, 1898 Succeeded byWilliam J. Samford Political offices Preceded byWilliam C. Oates Governor of Alabama 1896–1900 Succeeded byWilliam J. Samford U.S. Senate Preceded byEdmund Pettus U.S. Senator from Alabama 1907–1913 Succeeded byFrancis S. White