Johnson, George W., 1811-1862

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George W. Johnson was the first Confederate Provisional Governor of Kentucky. He was born near Georgetown, Kentucky in 1811. He received Bachelor's, Master's, and Law degrees from Transylvania University. After his marriage to Ann Viley in 1833, Johnson practiced law in Georgetown. Johnson served three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives and was a candidate for Democratic elector in 1852 and 1860. Johnson was a volunteer aide to General Simon Bolivar Buckner in Bowling Green. A sovereignty convention in Russellville in November 1861 denied the authority of the government in Frankfort and declared a revolutionary right to create a provisional government that they viewed as more representative of Kentuckians. Johnson was unanimously elected as the first provisional governor. The new government was soon admitted to the Confederacy, despite misgivings about its legality. Johnson and his council spent less than three months in Bowling Green, the official Confederate capital, after taking office. The government went into exile when General Albert Sidney Johnston retreated from Kentucky. The governor was with Johnston's forces at Shiloh where both were fatally wounded. George W. Johnson died in 1862.

From the description of George W. Johnson papers, 1850-1920. (Kentucky Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 41140441

Biographical note: George W. Johnson was born near Georgetown, Kentucky. He received bachelor's, master's, and law degrees from Transylvania Universtiy in Lexington. After his marriage to Ann Viley in 1833, Johnson practiced law in Georgetown. The Johnsons later moved to a farm in Scott County.

In addition to managing his lands in Kentucky and a large cotton plantation in Arkansas, Johnson served three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives and was a candidate for democratic elector in 1852 and 1860. He also headed the Committee of Sixty, which seized Cassius M. Clay's emancipationist newspaper, the TRUE AMERICAN.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860 and the formation of the Confederacy by seceding Southern states in 1861, Johnson, long an advocate of states' rights, believed Kentucky should also leave the Union. He was sent to Richmond, Virginia to request Confederate respect for Kentucky's position of neutrality in 1861. Johnson, along with other Confederate sympathizers, sponsored a States Rights convention in Frankfort after neutrality was abandoned. He soon fled the state for safety behind rebel lines, but returned to Kentucky as a volunteer aide to General Simon Bolivar Buckner in Bowling Green.

A sovereignty convention in Russellville in November 1861 denied the authority of the government in Frankfort and declared a revolutionary right to create a provisional government which they viewed as more representative of Kentuckians. Johnson was unanimously elected as the first provisional governor. The new government was soon admitted to the Confederacy, despite misgivings about its legality. Johnson and his council spent less than three months in Bowling Green, the official Confederate capital of Kentucky. The government went into exile when General Albert Sidney Johnston retreated from Kentucky. Governor Johnson was with Johnston's forces at Shiloh in 1862, where both were fatally wounded.

From the description of Papers, [ca. 1845]-1920. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 191917548

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Johnson family. Johnson family : papers, 1859-1971. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Johnson, George W., 1811-1862. George W. Johnson papers, 1850-1920. Kentucky Historical Society, Martin F. Schmidt Research Library
referencedIn United Daughters of the Confederacy. Scrapbook, 1897-1921 1905-1920. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Johnson, George W., 1811-1862. Papers, [ca. 1845]-1920. Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, Kentucky State Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1823-1914. person
associatedWith Coffman, William H., Mrs., 1872-1963. person
associatedWith Confederate States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Confederate States of America. Army corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Ann Viley. person
correspondedWith Johnson family family
correspondedWith Johnson family. family
associatedWith Johnson, Junius, d 1919. person
associatedWith Johnson, William Henry. person
associatedWith Johnston, Eliza Johnson. person
associatedWith Kentucky. Governor, Confederate (1861-1862 : Johnson) corporateBody
associatedWith Payne, Martha Johnson. person
associatedWith United Daughters of the Confederacy. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mississippi
Bell Isle (Miss.)
United States
Confederate States of America
Kentucky
United States
Kentucky
Subject
Governor
Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862
Reconstruction
Plantations
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1811-05-27

Death 1862-04-08

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