JOHNSON, Cave (1793-1866)

JOHNSON, CAVE, a Representative from Tennessee; born in Robertson County, Tenn., January 11, 1793; pursued an academic course and attended Cumberland College, Nashville, Tenn.; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1814 and commenced practice in Clarksville, Tenn.; prosecuting attorney of Montgomery County in 1817; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-first and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1829-March 3, 1837); chairman, Committee on Private Land Claims (Twenty-second and Twenty-third Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1836 to the Twenty-fifth Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-sixth, Twenty-seventh, and Twenty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1845); chairman, Committee on Military Affairs (Twenty-sixth Congress), Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings (Twenty-seventh Congress), Committee on Indian Affairs (Twenty-eighth Congress); appointed Postmaster General of the United States and served from March 5, 1845, to March 5, 1849; judge of the seventh judicial circuit court in 1850 and 1851; president of the Bank of Tennessee 1854-1860; United States commissioner in settling the affairs of the United States and Paraguay Navigation Co. in 1860; during the Civil War was elected to the State senate but was not permitted to take his seat; died in Clarksville, Tenn., November 23, 1866; interment in Greenwood Cemetery.

Emory University
Special Collections and Archives, Robert W. Woodruff Library
Atlanta, GA
Papers: Papers, 1833-1848, 0.75 linear foot (2 boxes).
Collection consists primarily of correspondence between Cave Johnson and Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, and James K. Polk pertaining primarily to the period during which Johnson represented his Tennessee district in Congress.


Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 1 letter.

Duke University
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Durham, NC
Papers: In the papers of the Campbell family, 1731-1969, 8,334 items, 37 volumes.
Correspondents include Cave Johnson.

Papers: In the papers of James K. Polk, 1831-1846, 4 items.
Collection includes a letter, 1846, from Cave Johnson about an affair involving a committee of claims.


Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1845-1865, 6 items.
Papers: In the papers of James K. Polk, 1775-1891, 39 linear feet.
Correspondents include Cave Johnson. Finding aid is available online.


New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
Papers: 1831-1865. 10 letters.
Finding aid in repository.


Tennessee State Library and Archives
Nashville, TN
Papers: 1824-1858, 1 reel microfilm (67 items).
Originals held by Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Special Collections
Los Angeles, CA
Papers: In the papers of Jonathan Drake Stevenson, 1840-1892, 1 box.
Collection includes a letter from Johnson discussing Polk's campaign and Silas Wright's nomination of the governor of New York.

  • Grant, Clement L. "Cave Johnson: Postmaster General." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 20 (December 1961): 323-49.
  • ---. "Cave Johnson and the Presidential Campaign of 1844." East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications 25 (1953): 54-73.
  • ---. "Congressional Years of Cave Johnson of Tennessee, 1829-1845." Master's thesis, Vanderbilt University, 1948.
  • ---. "The Public Career of Cave Johnson." Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1951.
  • ---. "The Public Career of Cave Johnson." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 10 (June 1951): 195-223.
  • ---, ed. "The Politics behind a Presidential Nomination as Shown in Letters from Cave Johnson to James K. Polk." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 12 (June 1953): 152-81.
  • Johnson, Cave. [Letter on the general condition of the country]. [Washington: N.p., 1831].
  • Sioussat, St. George L., ed. "Letters of James K. Polk to Cave Johnson, 1833-1848." Tennessee Historical Magazine 1 (1915): 209-56.