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Herschel Vespasian Johnson (American National Biography)

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Kenneth H. Williams, "Johnson, Herschel Vespasian," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00570.html.

With Abraham Lincoln's election, Johnson urged his state not to follow South Carolina out of the Union. As he later wrote, "I believed . . . that the State of Georgia had the right to secede, although I deplored the policy of exercising it and anticipated the worst of consequences." At the state convention he put forward a resolution calling for delegates from the southern states to gather in Atlanta in February and compose a list of terms to be presented to the Lincoln administration. It was narrowly defeated by the motion for immediate secession. Johnson pledged to support the course chosen by his state, even though he considered it "the most stupendous blunder ever made by rational men."

Johnson declined to seek a seat in the Provisional Congress but was pleased with its redesign of the Constitution and with the selection of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens for the top positions in the new government...Johnson once again answered his state's call in November 1862, when the legislature…selected him to fill the Confederate Senate seat vacated by John W. Lewis. Johnson was elected to a full term the following autumn and served in the Confederate Congress for the remainder of the war. Although he differed with Davis "in several particulars," Johnson continued to support him and chastised Stephens and other Georgians for their open criticisms. As a legislator, Johnson's voting record was consistent with states' rights doctrine, opposing conscription, a supreme court, and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

How to Cite This Page: "Herschel Vespasian Johnson (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/15959.