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 William Samuel Johnson

William Samuel Johnson

Birth
Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Death 14 Nov 1819 (aged 92)
Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Memorial ID 4712 · View Source
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US Senator, Signer of US Constitution. The son of a well-known Anglican clergyman, he disappointed his father by rejecting a career in ministry in order to practice law. The Stratford, Connecticut native used his successful law practice as a springboard for public service. He served in both the lower and upper houses of his colony's legislature and was a member of Connecticut's Supreme Court. He also had a distinguished twenty year career in the Connecticut militia achieving the rank of colonel. During the period of the Revolutionary War, his loyalties were conflicted. He loathed the taxation without representation policies of Britain, but had strong ties in England as well as loyalties to the Anglican Church. He had lived in England for several years as Connecticut's agent to Britain to help settle land disputes and was awarded an honorary degree by Oxford. His professional, personal, religious and educational ties made it difficult for him to wholeheartedly support the "more extreme elements" of the Patriot movement which was fast gaining steam in the colonies. As the war was beginning he assumed the role of peacemaker only to become alienated by both sides. A request personally made to British General Thomas Gage to end the bloodshed was completely rejected and in 1779 he was arrested by patriot supporters for communicating with the enemy. Although the charge was dropped he was "labeled" by the pro-revolution citizens who took over the Connecticut government and was shunned by many. However, after the war the lawyer felt obligated to become involved in the new nation and with his popularity returning, he once again took a central position in Connecticut's development. From 1785 to 1787 he was a member of the Continental Congress. Also in 1787 he was selected as a delegate to the Constitutional Conventional in Philadelphia. He was active at the convention delivering eloquent speeches calling for equal protection for all states and judicial powers that protected "equity as well as law". He was also a member of the committee that edited and presented the final form of the historic document for approval. After the convention he was elected as one of Connecticut's first US Senators serving from 1779 to 1781. During his term he played a vital role in passing laws that shaped the new country's judicial system. Shortly after the seat of the new government moved from New York to Philadelphia, he resigned his position in order to be able to fulfill his duties as president of New York City's Columbia College. He stayed on at the school until his retirement in 1800. He died nineteen years later in Stratford Connecticut.

Bio by: Bigwoo


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Mar 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4712
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Samuel Johnson (7 Oct 1727–14 Nov 1819), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4712, citing Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery, Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .