JOHNSON, William Samuel

1727–1819

Biography

JOHNSON, William Samuel, a Delegate and a Senator from Connecticut; born in Stratford, Conn., on October 7, 1727; was tutored privately by his father; graduated from Yale College in 1744 and from Harvard College in 1747; studied law; admitted to the bar and practiced in Stratford; member, colonial house of representatives 1761, 1765, and of the upper house 1766, 1771-1775; served as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress held in New York City in October 1765; was Connecticut agent extraordinary to the court of England to determine the State title to Indian lands 1767-1771; judge of Connecticut Supreme Court 1772-1774; member of the Continental Congress 1785-1787; delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and one of the signers of the Constitution; served as the first president of Columbia College of New York City 1787-1800; elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1791, when he resigned; died in Stratford, Conn., on November 14, 1819; interment in the Episcopal Cemetery.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 2 items.

Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1785-1842. 31 items. Correspondence with his son Robert Charles Johnson concerning personal business and advice concerning son's law career. Some written during his term as senator, 1791. Also 1 item (June 25, 1790) in Iselin Jay papers.

Connecticut Historical Society

Hartford, CT
Papers: 1658-1830 (bulk 1744-1817). 8 boxes. Correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, legal papers, memoirs, miscellaneous papers, a print, and a portrait, oil on canvas. Topics include Connecticut politics, Mohegan lands controversy, Connecticut Susquehanna land claim, national politics, and family matters. Available on 6 microfilm reels. Finding aid.

Connecticut State Library

Hartford, CT
Papers: 1 item (no date) in Robert G. Johnson papers.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 2 items (May 28, 1789; January 3, 1791) in Gratz collection; 1 item (March 6, 1789) in Etting collection; and 3 items (June 23, 1789-September 29, 1789) in Tench Coxe papers.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1745-1936. 2 containers. Includes drafts of Johnson's first and second Connecticut addresses (1765) to King George III, and drafts and copies of documents prepared during his service in the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress and the Federal Convention of 1787, together with a few letters received and family papers.
Additional Papers: 1 item (July 15, 1789) in Edmund Cody Bennett collection; 1 item (May 30, 1789) in John Fitch papers; and 1 item (August 9, 1790) in Connecticut miscellaneous manuscripts.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: 2 items (March 6, 22, 1790) in Timothy Pickering papers.

New York Public Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1766-1771. 56 items. Letters (handwritten transcripts, 1840?) from Johnson to William Pitkin and Jonathan Trumbull, governors of Connecticut, on the affairs of the colony. Formerly part of the Bancroft collection.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1772. 1 item.

Rutgers University Libraries
Special Collections and University Archives

New Brunswick, NJ
Papers: 1 item (March 5, 1791) in Philip and Elsie Sang collection.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives

New Haven, CT
Papers: In Johnson family papers, 1769-1886. 10.5 linear feet. Correspondence, papers, volumes, deeds and other material documenting several generations of Johnson family of Connecticut and New York. Topics include Connecticut and New York politics, religion, land development, and Indian affairs. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: 6 microfilm reels of originals (1658-1830 (bulk 1744-1817)) at Connecticut Historical Society; 1 item (March 6, 1789) in Stiles papers; in Chauncey family papers, 1675-1928; and Roger Sherman collection, 1749-1904.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Beardsley, Eben Edwards. Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, First Senator in Congress from Connecticut, and President of Columbia College. 1876. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1972.

Groce, George Cuthbert. William Samuel Johnson: A Maker of the Constitution. New York: Columbia University Press, 1937.

Johnson, William Samuel. The Superior Court Diary of William Samuel Johnson, 1772-1773. Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, 1942.

McCaughey, Elizabeth P. From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.

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