Tarheel Founding Fathers: Samuel Johnston

Samuel Johnston was born in Scotland, but moved here with his Uncle (Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston) when he was just two years old. He attended Yale but did not graduate, instead returning home to study law under Thomas Barker. Johnston began his public service career at 22, and continued his government career non-stop for the following half-century. He was the defacto Governor of NC in 1775 when Josiah Martin slunk off, and was later elected Governor (3 times) and became the first elected (U.S.) Senator from NC. But it was his service in the Continental Congress during the war that give him TFF status:

Dear Sir: Philadelphia, 15th February, 1781. I had the pleasure of receiving yours of the 5th inst., last night. I wrote a line by an express to the Governor, which I hope you will receive. I have very little hope that this will reach you. By a vessel, which arrived last Sunday from Cadiz, we have letters as late as the l9th December. The fleets at that time, as well of France and Spain as Great Britain, were in port; the Dutch had acceded to the armed Neutrality, notwithstanding which, the British continued to take their ships, and it was thought would make some attempts on their settlements in the East Indies. Mr. Cumberland is still permitted to continue at the Court of Madrid-a very suspicious circumstance. There is great reason to apprehend that the British mean to fortify and support their station at Portsmouth, or some other in that neighborhood, in order to shut up the navigation of the bay, and by making frequent incursions into the country, prevent the State of Virginia from sending aid to the Carolinas. Congress is every day engaged in a variety of matters, but under our present situation, it is probably best to say little as to the particulars.

Early 1781 was a bleak time for Congress and the Continental Army. Money was tight, morale was exceptionally low, and the British Navy was brutally blockading most routes to America to keep France from delivering aid. But the French Navy kept up the pressure, and soon regained control of the waters:

Dear Sir: Philadelphia, 27th February, 1781. Your letter giving an account of Morgan's victory, I had the pleasure to receive yesterday, but have heard nothing of those sent by the gentlemen to Virginia. Our accounts from General Cornwallis are very alarming, but we hope it will not be long before both he and Arnold will repent of their rashness. Congress are not inattentive to the state of the Southern States, but the unfortunate mutinies in the Army, and other unavoidable accidents have prevented them sending on more Troops, and put it out of their power to make such ample provision for those that were sent as would have been wished.

Should the report, which from different quarters has arrived at different towns to the eastward, with regard to Count D'Estaing's having taken seven Ships of the Line, three Frigates and the greatest part of 90 sail of Transports of Sir Samuel Hood's Squadron off the Western Islands, be true, it will be a favorable presage of the success of the ensuing campaign. The French fleet hold the British ships blocked up in Gardiner's Bay, and only wait the arrival of the expected reinforcements to lay hands on. The safety or destruction of the British fleet, under Admiral Arbuthnot, depends entirely on this circumstance, whether a French or British reinforcement first arrives. The chances at present appear to me in favor of our Allies. General Washington will not neglect the relief of North Carolina, when circumstances will admit. I dare not be more particular, but hope before this reaches you, Arnold's fate will be decided.

Actually, D'Estaing failed miserably in that engagement, but Admiral de Grasse made up for it in spades. His defeat of the British fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake set the stage for Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown a month later. And yes, Johnston is referring to Benedict Arnold in the above letter. He didn't just surrender West Point, he led a loyalist army that nearly burned Richmond to the ground.

Tags: 

Comments

First one who crossed my mind

was Michael Flynn, especially after his recent comments about staging a coup. His ass needs to be court-martialed. But Josh Hawley and Matt Gaetz are also pretty good candidates, and of course Madison Cawthorn for racing his wheelchair towards the Capitol in a Facebook video.

There are a lot of traitors from which to choose...