William Samuel Johnson

Burial Location Visited Constitution Signer Grave #
Stratford, Connecticut January 1, 2011 11th Visited


Stratford, Connecticut is where William S.                                                   Johnson's grave seems to have
Johnson, a signer of the Constitution, is                                                      seen better days.


William Johnson was one of two men from                                  The gate to the graveyard where Johnson
Connecticut who signed the Constitution.                                    is interred was locked that day, so we had
Roger Sherman was the other.                                                    to climb over the fence.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* William S. Johnson was born on October 7th in the year 1727 in Stratford. His father, Samuel Johnson, was the first president of King's College, which has since been renamed Columbia University. The younger Johnson attended Yale University and acquired his B.A. from there when he graduated in 1744. He earned his masters degree from there three years later and an honorary degree from Harvard that same year.

* Samuel Johnson wished for his son to enter the clergy and become a minister, but William Johnson showed an interest in law instead. After educating himself in that area he opened his own practice in his hometown. He wed Ann Beach, the daughter of a local businessman, in 1749. Johnson later became an officer in the militia.

* The Stratford native first entered politics in 1761, when he served in the lower house of the Connecticut Legislature. He would return to serve again in 1765. He later spent several years serving in the upper house. Johnson attended the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and was in opposition to the bills enacted by the British during that time. Still, it was difficult for Johnson to choose a side. He had many friends who resided in Britain, and his ties with the Anglican Church made deciding even more difficult. Johnson was even awarded honorary degrees by Oxford University in 1765 and 1766. From 1767 until 1771, he lived in Britain as an agent of Connecticut. During the era of the American Revolution, Johnson was more for reconciliation than he was for independence.

* Johnson served as a justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1772 to 1774 and was elected to the First Continental Congress, but was adamant in his refusal to serve in that body. After the outbreak of war in April of 1775, Johnson met with General Thomas Gage of Great Britain to restore peace, but negotiations failed. He was later arrested with the charges of communicating with the enemy, but these charges were dropped soon afterwards.

* After the American Revolution came to an end, Johnson became willing to show his support for his country. In 1785 he began serving in the Congress of the Confederation, which he did until 1787. He was one of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention that year and played an important role in the formation of the U.S. Constitution. He signed the document that September. William Johnson had the distinction of serving along with Oliver Ellsworth as the first U.S. senators from Connecticut. Ellsworth served from 1789 to 1796, but Johnson resigned five years prior to put more energy into his other job: president of Columbia College (which is the name the university was known by in 1791). He retired from his post as president in 1800, nineteen years before his death.

Spouse: Ann Beach Johnson (1729-1796)
               Mary Brewster Beach Johnson (      -      )

Political Party:
Pro-Administration Party

Last Words:
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