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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Thomas Johnson

JOHNSON, Thomas, statesman, born in St. Leonard's, Calvert County, Maryland, 4 November, 1732; died at Rose Hill, Frederick County, Maryland, 25 October, 1819. His grandfather, Thomas Johnson, emigrated to Maryland in 1689-'90. The grandson studied law and was admitted to the bar of the general court, he represented Anne Arundel county in the house of delegates of the province from 1762 till 1773, and was the leading spirit in all the measures and discussions in opposition to the stamp-tax. On 6 December, 1765, he prepared and reported the instructions to Charles Garth, agent of the province in London. that the agent should exert himself in opposition to any scheme to tax the province, and on 15 October, 1773, he was elected one of the committee of correspondence. In June, 1774, he was member of the convention of county committees which met at Annapolis and elected deputies for the province to attend a general congress of representatives from all the colonies "to effect one general plan of conduct operating on the commercial connection of the colonies with the mother country for the relief of Boston and the preservation of American liberty." On 15 June, 1775, as deputy from Maryland in the congress at Philadelphia, he nominated George Washington to be commander-in-chief of the army. During 1775 he was also a member of the committee of safety and of the provincial convention. On 5 January, 1776, he was elected senior brigadier-general of the military forces of the province. He prepared and reported a scheme for the emission of bills of credit to defray the expenses of defending the province, and was in charge of all measures and means for the public defence. On 21 May, 1776, he was re-elected to congress, but remained in the provincial convention organizing the province for resistance. On 4 July the convention reelected him to congress, resolving that it was more important to have his services in congress than at home, and on 10 November he was again elected to the Continental congress. On 14 February, 1777, he was elected the first governor of Maryland, and he was re-elected in 1778 and 1779. In October, 1780, he was again elected deputy to the Provincial congress, and in December of that year was elected a member of the house of delegates, where, on 21 January, 1781, he introduced a bill to confiscate all British property in Maryland. On the 29th he, procured a message to be sent by the house to the senate, pressing for instructions to be sent to the Maryland deputies to sign the articles of confederation. Mainly owing to Johnson's efforts these instructions were given, and John Hansen and Daniel Carroll signed the articles on I March, 1781. Up to that time Maryland had refused to join the confederation until Virginia should agree to release all lands west of the Ohio river. Governor Johnson was member of the house of delegates in October, 1781, of the Continental congress in 1781-'87, and in 1787 introduced a resolution to sell the western lands. He was member of the Maryland convention of 1789 to ratify the constitution of the United States, and was an ardent supporter of it. On the organization of the judiciary under the new government, he was appointed one of the district judges, which office he declined, and on 20 April, 1790, he was appointed chief judge of the general court of Maryland, but resigned on 7 November, 1791, on being appointed an associate justice of the United States supreme court. On the resignation of John Rutledge as chief justice, Washington insisted on Judge Johnson's taking that place, but he declined. He resigned on 4 March, 1793, and on 24 August, 1795, was tendered the portfolio of secretary of state, which he declined. He was appointed, with Dr. Stuart and Daniel Carroll, commissioner to lay out the city of Washington. In 1774 he became engaged with Washington in the scheme for the improvement of the navigation of the Potomac so as to open communication with the western lands. After the Revolution the plan was prosecuted by the formation of the Potomac company by the legislature of Maryland through Johnson's influence, and by the general assembly of Virginia on the personal application of Washington. He was one of the committee appointed by congress in October, 1774, to draft an address to the king, and was influential in July, 1776, in inducing the provincial convention of Maryland to declare independence of Great Britain and to authorize their deputies in congress to join in the Declaration of Independence of the thirteen united colonies. When Washington was in retreat through the Jerseys in 1776-'7, he sent an urgent appeal to Johnson to re-enforce him, saying that he had not men enough to fight the enemy, and too few to run away with, and Johnson embodied and organized 1,800 militia in the western counties and led them in person to the relief of Washington. -His brother, BENJAMIN, born 26 July, 1727, was a major in the Maryland forces.--Another brother, JAMES, born 30 September, 1736, was a colonel.--JOHN, born 29 August, 1745, was a surgeon.--ROGER, born 15 March, 1749, was a major of the military force of the province.--Josnua, born 25 June, 1744, removed to England and became a merchant. At the beginning of hostilities he went to Nantes, France, where he acted as the agent of Maryland during the war, and was the first consul of the United States at London, 1785-'99. His daughter, Louisa Catherine, married John Quincy Adams in London in 1796.--BAKER, another brother, born 30 September, 1749, was a deputy from Frederick county, Maryland, in the revolutionary conventions of 1774, 1775, and 1776, was colonel of the 4th Maryland regiment, and commanded it at the battle of the Brandywine and at Germantown.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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