Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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JOHNSTON, Gabriel, governor of North Carolina, born in Scotland in 1699; died in Chowan county, North Carolina, in August, 1752. He was educated at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and studied medicine, but is supposed not to have practised. For several years he was professor of oriental languages at St. Andrews. Removing to London, he became distinguished as a man of letters and liberal views, and was engaged with Lord Henry Bolingbroke in writing for the "Craftsman," a political and literary magazine. Emigrating to the United States about 1730 and settling in North Carolina, through the influence of the Earl of Wilmington he was appointed governor of that colony. His administration was successful, the province greatly increasing in wealth, population, and general prosperity under his rule, which continued from his appointment till his death.--His nephew, Samuel, senator, born in Dundee, Scotland, 15 December, 1733; died near Edenton, North Carolina, 18 August, 1816, came to this country in 1736 with his father, John, who settled in North Carolina, and acquired large estates there. Samuel was educated for the bar, and in 1767-'72 was clerk of the superior court of Chowan county, North Carolina, and at the same time a naval officer under the crown. He soon became known as a politician and lawyer, was an ardent patriot, a member of the assembly in 1769, where he was placed on its standing committee of inquiry and correspondence, an active member of the first two Provincial congresses, and presided over the third and fourth. In August, 1775, he was elected chairman of the provincial council, and virtually became governor of the state. He was chosen treasurer of the northern district of North Carolina in September of that year, was a member of the Continental congress of 1781-'2, and in 1788 elected governor of the state, presiding over the convention that failed to ratify the Federal constitution, which he supported with all his influence. In the following year he also presided over the convention that adopted the constitution. In 1789-'93 he was a member of the United States senate, as a Federalist, and in February, 1800, was appointed judge of the superior court, resigning in 1803.
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