David Johnson

32nd Governor of the State of South Carolina 1846 to 1848

Date Born: October 3, 1782

Date Died: January 7, 1855

Place Born: Louisa County, VA

Place Buried: Presbyterian Cemetery, Union, SC

Residence: Unknown

Occupation: Lawyer


Received early education under Rev. Joseph Alexander at Bullocks Creek in York County, SC

Studied law under Abraham Nott and admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1803

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1810-1811


Born on October 3, 1782 in Louisa County, VA, David Johnson moved with his family to Spartanburg County, SC in 1789. He was the son of Christopher Columbus Johnson and Elizabeth (Dabney) Johnson. He received his initial education under Rev. Joseph Alexander at Bullocks Creek in York County. He then studied law under Judge Abraham Nott, was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1803, and then became a law partner of his teacher, Abraham Nott.

He was married to Barbara Asbury Herndon, daughter of Benjamin Herndon and Sarah Herndon in Newberry District, SC, and they had five sons and three daughters.

In 1810, he was elected to represent the Union District in the House of Representatives of the:
- 19th General Assembly that met from 1810-1811

While in this assembly he was elected on December 4, 1811 as Solicitor of the Middle District and had to give up his seat in the House. He retained this position until 1815.

Excelling in law, David Johnson was made a Circuit Court Judge in 1815, a Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1824, a presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1830, and a Chancellor in 1835. During his time on the bench, Johnson was a noted Unionist because of his decision to strike down a militia oath to South Carolina and his view that a violation of a law of the United States was a violation of the law of South Carolina. Ironically a son-in-law was Confederate General John A. Wharton.

In 1846, the General Assembly unanimously elected David Johnson as the next governor of South Carolina for a two-year term. The Mexican–American War occurred during his administration and the state aptly supported the cause. Much discussed was the Wilmot Proviso which would have outlawed slavery in the territory acquired from Mexico as a result of the war and it helped to further push the state towards the brink of secession. A Unionist would not become Governor of South Carolina again until the end of the Civil War when Benjamin Franklin Perry was appointed by President Andrew Johnson.

After his term as governor, Johnson returned to the upstate where he died on January 7, 1855 in Limestone Springs, SC. He was buried at the Presbyterian Cemetery in Union, SC.


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