Johnson, Thomas

Johnson, Thomas (1732-1819) Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Born in Calvert County, Maryland, on November 4, 1792, Thomas Johnson studied law and was admitted to the bar of the general court. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1762 to 1773, led discussions against the Stamp Act (1765) and was elected to the Committee of Correspondence. In 1775, he was a deputy from Maryland at the Philadelphia Congress, where he nominated George Washington to be commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Elected senior brigadier-general of Maryland's military forces, Johnson was involved in planning the financing and other aspects of Maryland's defenses. Elected to the Continental Congress in 1776, he chose to remain in Maryland to organize resistance. The Maryland convention nevertheless urged him to go to the Continental Congress, since his services were needed more urgently there. Johnson organized and led 1,800 troops from the western counties of Maryland to aid General Washington when he was retreating through New Jersey in 1776-77. After the Revolutionary War, Johnson became Maryland's first governor, and was re-elected twice. As deputy to the Maryland congress, Johnson presented legislation in October 1780 to confiscate all British property in Maryland. Largely because of his urging, Maryland signed the Articles of Confederation. Johnson was also a strong supporter of the US Constitution, and served on the 1789 state ratifying convention. He was appointed chief judge of the General Court of Maryland, but resigned in 1791 to become an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. When John Rutledge resigned as Chief Justice, Johnson declined the offer of taking his place. Less than two and a half years after Johnson resigned from the Supreme Court in 1793, he was offered the position of Secretary of State, which he declined. He did accept, however, the position of co-commissioner, with Dr. Stuart and Daniel Carroll, to lay out the city of Washington, D.C. With George Washington, Johnson became involved with efforts to improve navigation of the Potomac to improve trade and communication with the western regions. Johnson died at Rose Hill, in Frederick County, Maryland; on October 25, 1819.