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Favorable or Unfavorable #462: Richard Mentor Johnson


Favorable or Unfavorable #462: Richard Mentor Johnson  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #462: Richard Mentor Johnson

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VP RM Johnson (KY-D) is one of the more unusual people of his time. He somehow managed to be both a Clay ally and staunch Jacksonian.

He now gets more recognition for his unusual relationship with one of his enslaved women. Here are more details. Julia Chinn's date of birth is unknown. She was most likely about 20 or 21 when their relationship began, but some documents point to the possibility that she was as young as 14 or 15. She probably looked white as she was 7/8 white (their term was octoroon) but that still meant she was "black" legally and, thus, not free if she was born into slavery. We don't know how willingly Chinn was part of this relationship. That he never freed her is worrisome. Their two daughters had his last name, and he openly recognized them as his, even if the law did not. At his death, one daughter was still alive, and she couldn't inherit anything because she was "black," even though her father had given her her freedom at some point. 

Johnson clearly had some sort of fetish. He broke off an arranged engagement engineered by his mother and was soon with Chinn. Soon after Chinn's death, he went after another enslaved woman, and sold her when he rejected her. He then went immediately after her sister who he did have a relationship with. He never personally pursued a woman who wasn't enslaved to him or his family. Technically, when he first hooked up with Chinn she was her father's enslaved woman, but he inherited her on his father's death a year later. 

The result seriously damaged his political clout in the South. His success was due mostly to his supposed killing of Tecumseh, a claim that can't be verified and couldn't then with certainty. It may or may not be true. Johnson also had a lot of political energy. Very persistent and a social gadfly, wearing a bright red vest. JQ Adams mentions him frequently in his diaries, popping in and out like a coocoo clock. The diary is pretty neutral on Johnson, although most scholars say Johnson was a ferocious opponent of Adams. Face-to-face from Adam's diary one wouldn't notice that. 

His actions:

Johnson, Richard Mentor 1811 Begins sexual relationship w/ slave Julia Chinn, aged between 14-21, (he was 31)
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1811 a War Hawk ally of Henry Clay
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1811 A leading voice against rechartering the national bank
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1812 Father first of two children with the enslaved Julia Chinn, who he treats as a common law wife, but does not free from slavery
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1813 leads a KY regiment in War of 1812, allegedly personally killing Tecumseh at Battle of the Thames
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1816 Opposes Calhoun's bill for 2nd National Bank, but absents himself from the vote
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1817 Defends Jackson's unilateral behavior in Seminole War
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1818 founds academy for Choctaw youth, and sends his enslaved children to schooling there
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1820 Awarded a sword by Pres Monroe for his war service
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1821 Introduces bill to establish what will be called George Washington University
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1822 Introduces bill to abolish federal imprisonment of debt
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1823 Proposes a federally-funded expedition to the center of the Earth to determine if the Earth is hollow
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1824 Initially supports fellow KY man Clay in pres election; When House decides enthusiastically backs Jackson
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1824 Considered for Sec of War by Jackson
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1825 Founds new school for Native Americans, placing his enslaved common-law wife in charge of it
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1827 leading foe of Sabbatarian movement
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1828 Becomes a key Southern ally for Van Buren's quest to build a new party around Jackson
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1828 Denied US Senate seat from KY legis, likely because of his unorthodox marriage
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1833 His enslaved common law wife--Julia Chinn--dies of cholera, having never been granted freedom.
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1834 Begins another relationship with an enslaved woman, but he has her sold when she tries to run away; begins a relationship with this slave's sister
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1836 VP on Van Buren's winning ticket; selected because of allegedly having killed Tecumseh in 1813, but he actually cost more votes in the South than expected b/c of relationships w/ enslaved women
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1836 chosen VP by the Senate (under 12th Amendment)
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1840 Rejected as VP by Democratic Convention because of history of unusual behavior, leaving none on the ticket
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1840 Jackson urges Van Buren to replace Johnson w/ Polk as VP
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1840 Arguably helps cost Van Buren reelection by campaigning, and giving rambling speeches, and not dropping out as VP when not renominated
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1842 Fmr VP fails in bid for US Sen
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1844 candidate for Dem pres nom
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1848 Fmr VP drops out in run for Gov of KY due to lack of support
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1848 Allegedly plots bid to be VP, but gets no support
Johnson, Richard Mentor 1850 Elected to KY state legislature despite being known to have dementia and being unable to work (dies later in the year)
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4 hours ago, Bushwa777 said:

clicked on wrong one, meant unfave

i was incredibly surprised for a brief second

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