Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Paul B. Johnson Jr. completed his education at the University of Mississippi. Following his service in the South Pacific during World War II, he was Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1948 to 1961. He lost a bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate, as well as three gubernatorial races, before winning election as lieutenant governor in 1959. He went on to win election as governor in 1963 on a segregationist platform, serving one four-year term. In ill health for many years afterward, Johnson died of a heart attack in 1985.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.