THOMAS JOHNSON, the first elected governor of Maryland, was born in Calvert County, Maryland on November 4, 1732. His early education was received at home. He went on to study law with Stephen Bradley and by 1756 was licensed to practice. Along with his legal career, Johnson had a long and distinguished career in politics. He first entered the political arena in 1762, serving as a member of the Maryland General Assembly. During the revolutionary movement, he served as a member of the committee of correspondence, as well as serving on the council of safety. He also was senior brigadier general of the Maryland militia during the Revolutionary War. Johnson was sent to the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1775, where he was instrumental in nominating his friend, George Washington, for commander of the Continental Army. He next won election to Maryland’s governorship in 1777. He was reelected in November 1777 and November 1778. Afterwards, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates, a position he held in 1780, 1786, and 1787. He also served as a delegate to the 1788 Maryland convention that ratified the federal constitution. From 1790 to 1791 he served as chief justice of the Maryland general court; and from 1791 to 1793 he served on the U.S. Supreme Court. In February 1801, he was offered appointment as chief judge for the Territory of the District of Columbia, but declined the position. Johnson went on to serve on the Board of Commissioners of the new federal city. Governor Thomas Johnson passed away on October 26, 1819, and was buried in All Saints’ Episcopal Churchyard in Frederick, Maryland. In 1913, he was reinterred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.
Delaplaine, Edward S. Life of Thomas Johnson. New York: Frederick H. Hitchcock, 1927.
Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.
White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.
Maryland State Archives
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress