Johnson, William

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Johnson, William

William Johnson served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1794 to 1798 and as speaker of the house in 1798. He was then elected judge of the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas. In 1804 he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He served on the U.S. Supreme Court until his death in 1834, earning a reputation as a critic of Chief Justice John Marshall, a writer of dissenting opinions, and a nationalist with regard to federal-state relations.

Johnson was born December 27, 1771, in Charleston, South Carolina. He was the son of Sarah Nightingale Johnson and of William Johnson, a blacksmith, legislator, and well-known Revolutionary patriot. During the Revolutionary War, when the British captured Charleston, Johnson's father was sent to detention in Florida, and the family was exiled from its home. The Johnsons returned to South Carolina after being reunited months later.

Johnson graduated first in his class from Princeton in 1790. He then returned to Charleston to study law under Charles C. Pinckney, a prominent adviser to President George Washington. Johnson was admitted to the bar in 1793.

In 1794 Johnson married Sarah Bennett, sister of Thomas Bennett, a future governor of South Carolina. The couple had eight children, six of whom died in childhood. They also later adopted two refugee children from Santo Domingo.

From 1794 to 1798, Johnson served in South Carolina's house of representatives as a member of Thomas Jefferson's new Republican Party. Johnson was speaker of the house in 1798. He was then elected judge of the court of common pleas, the state's highest court.

In 1804 President Jefferson appointed Johnson to the U.S. Supreme Court. During his thirty years of service on the Court, Johnson became known as a critic of Chief Justice John Marshall. Johnson has been called the first great Court dissenter because he established a tradition of dissenting opinions. Among his most noteworthy opinions was his dissent in Craig v. Missouri, 29 U.S. (4 Pet.) 410, 7 L. Ed. 903 (1830). In Craig v. Missouri, Johnson argued in his dissent that states should be able to issue temporary bills of credit or loans.

"In a country where laws govern, courts of justice necessarily are the medium of action and reaction between the government and the governed."
—William Johnson

In general, Johnson leaned toward the nationalist position in judicial issues involving federal-state relations, as illustrated by his concurring opinion in gibbons v. ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 6 L. Ed. 23 (1824). Gibbons was a landmark decision that held that the Commerce Clause gave to Congress, to the exclusion of the states, the power to regulate interstate commerce, which included navigation between the states. In his circuit court duties as well, Johnson stead-fastly held that the federal government had the right to control interstate commerce, including the commerce of slaves. This position proved so unpopular in his native state that he was forced to move to Pennsylvania in 1833.

In the first part of his career as a Supreme Court justice, Johnson sought a different appointment. He wrote to President Jefferson that he found the Court to be no "bed of roses." Nevertheless, he remained on the Court until his death.

Johnson's other accomplishments included the publication of Sketches of the Life and Correspondence of Nathaniel Greene, in 1822, and Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson, in 1826. Johnson also was a founder of the University of South Carolina. He died following surgery in 1834.

Further readings

Kolsky, Meredith. 1995. "Justice William Johnson and the History of the Supreme Court Dissent." Georgetown Law Journal 83 (June): 2069–98.

Witt, Elder, ed. 1990. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly.

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To be delivered into the hands of Sir William Johnson was far preferable to being led into the wilds of Canada; but in order to effect even the former, it would be necessary to traverse the forest for many weary leagues, each step of which was carrying him further from the scene of the war, and, consequently, from the post, not only of honor, but of duty.
William Johnson and Miss Macquoid, the Christian Scientists, with remarkable likeness to the truth.
THE following pictures have been sent in by William Johnson of Old Swan showing him pictured on the picket line during the Liverpool Docks Dispute in the years 1995-98.
Media Contact: William Johnson, Movie TV Tech Geeks, 6515287412, westmemphisthree@gmail.
Broadley, of Lower Edge Road, was also cleared of assaulting William Johnson the day before the knife attack last October.
Johnson of Denton, Texas, and William Johnson of Rutland; a sister, Nancy M.
com)-- "Breaking Bad" & "Switched at Birth" Star RJ Mitte, Ray William Johnson of "Equals 3" and Paloma Kwiatkowski of "Bates Motel" will star in the indie feature Who's Driving Doug, the story of a reclusive wheelchair bound intellect who takes a road trip with his new driver that transforms their lives throughout the journey.
There a leaden vault contained the remains of Sir William Johnson.
Daniel William Johnson, 32, of the same address, was arrested and charged with murder.
With the firm's stock recently trading at an all-time high and sales showing a continued increase, Heinz Chairman and President William Johnson said, "Heinz is being acquired from a position of strength.
The study then looks at how Sir William Johnson and his Iroquois backers sought to project an image of unity to the indigenous representatives of the Grand Council of the Iroquois Confederacy, as they negotiated a boundary that would secure the interests of the eastern Iroquois.
The journals kept by Sir William Johnson, British superintendent of northern Indians in the Great Lakes region in the 18th century, reveal how the recipients of the flags and medals used them as visual expressions of the state of diplomatic relations.