Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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JOHNSON, James, soldier, born in Orange county, Virginia, 1 January, 1774; died in Great Crossings, Scott County, Kentucky, 14 August, 1826. He was the son of Robert Johnson, who emigrated to Kentucky during the Revolutionary war, and was prominent in the conflicts between the white men and the natives that grew out of the settlement of the state. James was early inured to the dangers and hardships of a frontier life, and his training enabled him to take an active part in the war of 1812, in which he served as lieutenant-colonel of his brother's regiment. In the battle of the Thames he did much toward deciding the fortunes of the day, having command of the right wing of the United States forces. After the war he was a contractor for supplying the troops on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1819-'20. He was subsequently elected to congress as a Democrat, serving from 5 December, 1825, until his death.--His brother, Richard Mentor, vice president of the United States, born in Bryant's Station, Kentucky, 17 October, 1781; died in Frankfort, Kentucky, 19 November, 1850, was educated at Transylvania university, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practised at Great Crossings, Kentucky He was elected to the state legislature in 1804, and in 1807 was sent to congress as a Republican. Being several times re-elected, he served, with the exception of a few months, from 26 October, 1807, till 3 March, 1819. In June, 1812, he voted in favor of a declaration of war with Great Britain, and immediately after the adjournment of congress hastened home, where he raised a battalion of three companies, and after its consolidation with another he was placed in command of the regiment thus formed. After ten months of active service he returned to Washington. restarting his seat in congress, and materially aiding the president in preparing the plan of campaign for the following summer. Being authorized by the secretary of war to raise a regiment of one thousand mounted volunteers, he went to Kentucky at the end of the session in March, and soon raised the required number of men. Making his brother James lieutenant-colonel, he repaired to the Ohio frontier. He took part in the engagement at Chatham; Ontario, 4 October, 1813, and in the battle of the Thames on the day following. (See HARRISON, WILLIAM HENRY.) Colonel Johnson with half his men attacked the Indians, while his brother James, with the remainder, fell upon the British regulars. During the combat Colonel Johnson killed an Indian chief, whom he supposed to be Tecumseh (q. v.). The colonel was borne from the field almost life-less, having received several bullet wounds. Although not sufficiently recovered to be taken home until November, he was again in Washington in Feb unable to walk, and resumed his seat. On his way to the capital he was heartily cheered, and congress, by joint resolution, directed that he should be presented with a suitable testimonial for his services. At the conclusion of his term in congress in 1819, he returned home, was chosen to the legislature, and at once elected to the United States senate, in place of John J. Crittenden, resigned. Being re-elected, he served until 3 March, 1829. He was then again chosen to the 21st, 22d, 23d, and 24th congresses, being a member of the house from 7 December, 1829, till 3 March, 1837. He was a candidate for vice president of the United States on the ticket with Martin Van Buren, and, no choice haying been made by the electoral college, he was chosen by the senate. At the close of his official term he retired to his home, having given thirty years of his life contilmously to the service of his country. He was afterward sent again to the legislature, and was a member of that body at the time of his death. In 1814 he was appointed Indian commissioner. He was the author of the law abolishing imprisonment for debt in Kentucky, and while in congress made himself the especial friend of the old soldiers of the Revolution and the invalids of the war of 1812 by his efforts to secure pensions for them.--Another brother, John T., clergyman, born in Great Crossings, Scott County, Kentucky, 5 October, 1788; died in Lexington, Missouri, 17 December, 1856, chose the profession of law, and began practice. He volunteered in the war of 1812, and was an active participant in the northwestern campaign, serving as aide to General Harrison. On returning home after the war, he was five times elected to the legislature and twice to congress, serving in 1821-'5. In the "ohl and new court contest," in 1826, he was appointed and served for nine months as judge of the new court of appeals. In the midst of his successful political career he united with the Christian denomination, which was then assuming great power in Kentucky, under the teachings of Alexander Campbell and other leaders, and he gave the remaining years of his life to service as an evangelist. No man did more to build up educational and benevolent auxiliaries to his church, and to organize and foster its mission work. "His style of preaching was hortatory and pathetic, rather than logical, and was attended with success. He gave liberally of his own means to the interest of the cause which lay so near his heart, and, being possessed of a moderate estate, received no reward for his labor.--Richard Mentot's nephew, Madison Conyers, lawyer, born near Georgetown, Kentucky, 21 September, 1806; died in Lexington, Kentucky, 7 December, 1886, was the second son of William Johnson. He graduated with the first honors at Transylvania university in 1823, in 1825 was graduated in the law department of Transylvania, was admitted to the bar, and began the active practice of the law, in which he attained eminence. Mr. Johnson served for several years in the Kentucky legislature. In 1850 he was chosen one of the commissioners to adopt and draw up the Kentucky code of practice, and in 1853 and 1857 he was elected to the legislature. From 1858 till his death he was president of the Northern bank of Kentucky, and had been one of its directors since 1837. He was for many years connected with the board of trustees of Transylvania university, and in 1865, when that college was changed to the Kentucky university, he became president of its law department. He was eminent as a financier, and the 3 percent. United States bonds, by which millions of dollars were saved to the National government, were issued by See. Windom at his suggestion.
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