Representative, Senator, Vice President Richard Mentor JOHNSON

YEARS 1780-1850
OFFICE Representative, Senator, Vice President
STATE Kentucky
POLITICAL PARTY Democrat, Democratic Republican, Jackson Republican, Jacksonian
WHICH CONGRESS SERVED 10th (1807-1809), 11th (1809-1811), 12th (1811-1813), 13th (1813-1815), 14th (1815-1817), 15th (1817-1819), 16th (1819-1821), 17th (1821-1823), 18th (1823-1825), 19th (1825-1827), 20th (1827-1829), 21st (1829-1831), 22nd (1831-1833), 23rd (1833-1835), 24th (1835-1837)

Representative, Senator, Vice President Richard Mentor JOHNSON Biography

JOHNSON, Richard Mentor, (brother of James Johnson [1774“1826] and John Telemachus Johnson, and uncle of Robert Ward Johnson), a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky and a Vice President of the United States; born at “Beargrass,” Jefferson County, Ky., near the present site of Louisville, October 17, 1780; attended the common schools and Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1802 and commenced practice in Great Crossings, Ky.; member, State house of representatives 1804-1806 and again in 1819; elected as a Democratic Republican to the Tenth and to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1807-March 3, 1819); chairman, Committee on Claims (Eleventh Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War (Fifteenth Congress); commissioned colonel of Kentucky Volunteers and commanded a regiment in engagements against the British in lower Canada in 1813; elected as a Democratic Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John J. Crittenden; reelected as a Jackson Republican (and later Jacksonian) and served from December 10, 1819, to March 3, 1829; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1829; chairman, Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses); elected to the Twenty-first and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1829-March 3, 1837); chairman, Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Twenty-first and Twenty-second Congresses), Committee on Military Affairs (Twenty-second through Twenty-fourth Congresses); was chosen Vice President of the United States by the Senate on February 8, 1837, no candidate having received a majority of the electoral vote, and served under President Martin Van Buren from March 4, 1837, to March 3, 1841; member, State house of representatives 1850; died in Frankfort, Ky., November 19, 1850; interment in the Frankfort Cemetery. View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

External Research Collections

Boston Public Library Boston, MA Papers: 4 letters. Brooklyn Historical Society Brooklyn, NY Papers: June 4, 1834; August 27, 1842. 2 letters. Cornell University Libraries Rare Books and Manuscript Collections Ithaca, NY Papers: April 22, 1837. 1 letter. From William Christy concerning boat trip to Louisville. Filson Club Historical Society Louisville, KY Papers: Ca. 200 letters in the Richard M. Johnson miscellaneous papers; Thomas Henderson papers; Johnson family papers; and other collections. Georgetown College Library Georgetown, KY Papers: Transcript of interview by Leland W. Meyer with John Y. Kelly conducted for Meyer’s biography of Johnson. Indiana Historical Society Indianapolis, IN Papers: 12 letters in various collections. Johns Hopkins University Milton S. Eisenhower Library Baltimore, MD Papers: In Edward M. Greenway collection, 1737-1876. Kentucky Historical Society Frankfort, KY Papers: 1816, 1849. 3 items. Letters concerning politics. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, DC Papers: 1808-1847. 1 container; 160 items. Chiefly correspondence concerning financial and banking matters with some items relating to politics and discussions of various measures before the U.S. Congress. Additional Papers: Material in United States War Department records, 1790-1840; Jeremy Robinson papers, 1806-1832; John Payne papers, 1780-1905; and John McLean papers, 1817-1861, available on microfilm. Maryland Historical Society Baltimore, MD Papers: Correspondence in Francis Gallagher papers, 1848. New-York Historical Society New York, NY Papers: 2 letters (June 8 and 17, 1833) in the Samuel L. Gouverneur papers. Finding aid. Pierpont Morgan Library New York, NY Papers: 1824-1848. 11 items. State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives Division Madison, WI Lexington, KY Papers: 1819-1848. 25 items. University of Oklahoma Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives Norman, OK Papers: In Cyrus Kingsbury correspondence, 1819-1869; and Peter Perkins Pitchlynn papers, 1815-1888. University of Virginia Alderman Library Charlottesville, VA Papers: In Robert Whitehead papers, 1830-1978 (bulk 1830-1839). Virginia State Library and Archives Richmond, VA Papers: In George Rust papers, 1788-1858 (bulk 1815-1858); and Tazewell family papers, 1756-1931. Xavier University McDonald Memorial Library Cincinnati, OH Papers: 2 letters (1833, 1838), one written from the U.S. Senate chamber, in the Moses Dawson correspondence, 1811-1845. Available on microfilm. Finding aid. Yale University Libraries Manuscripts and Archives New Haven, CT Papers: In John McLean papers, 1817-1861, on 18 microfilm reels of originals in Library of Congress.


Bolt, Robert. “Vice President Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky: Hero of the ThamesOr the Great Amalgamator?” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 75 (July 1977): 191-203. Brown, Thomas. “The Miscegenation of Richard Mentor Johnson as an Issue in the National Election Campaign of 1835-1836.” Civil War History 39 (March 1993): 5-30. Drake, Ella Wells. “Choctaw Academy: Richard M. Johnson and the Business of Indian Education.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 91 (Summer 1993): 260-297. Jones, Jonathan Milnor. “The Making of a Vice President: The National Political Career of Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Memphis, 1998. Meyer, Leland. The Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky. 1932. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1967. Padgett, James A., ed. “The Letters of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky.” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 38 (1940): 186-201, 323-39; 39 (1941): 22-46, 172-88, 260-74, 358-67; 40 (1942): 69-91. Rouse, Shelley D. “Colonel Dick Johnson’s Choctaw Academy: A Forgotten Educational Experiment.” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 25 (January 1916): 88-117. Sprague, Stuart S. “The Death of Tecumseh and the Rise of Rumpsey Dumpsey: The Making of a Vice President.” The Filson Club History Quarterly 59 (October 1985): 455-461.

Richard Mentor JOHNSON Committee Assignments

Congress divides legislative work into committees where bills usually originate. Committees are specialized by subject and hold hearings, prepare bills for the consideration of the entire House, and regulate House procedure.

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