Library of Congress
JOHNSON, Richard Mentor (1780-1850)
Senate Years of Service: 1819-1829

JOHNSON, RICHARD MENTOR, (brother of James Johnson [1774-1826] and John Telemachus Johnson, and uncle of Robert Ward Johnson), a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky and a Vice President of the United States; born at "Beargrass," Jefferson County, Ky., near the present site of Louisville, October 17, 1780; attended the common schools and Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1802 and commenced practice in Great Crossings, Ky.; member, State house of representatives 1804-1806 and again in 1819; elected as a Democratic Republican to the Tenth and to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1807-March 3, 1819); chairman, Committee on Claims (Eleventh Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War (Fifteenth Congress); commissioned colonel of Kentucky Volunteers and commanded a regiment in engagements against the British in lower Canada in 1813; elected as a Democratic Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John J. Crittenden; reelected as a Jackson Republican (and later Jacksonian) and served from December 10, 1819, to March 3, 1829; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1829; chairman, Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses); elected to the Twenty-first and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1829-March 3, 1837); chairman, Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Twenty-first and Twenty-second Congresses), Committee on Military Affairs (Twenty-second through Twenty-fourth Congresses); was chosen Vice President of the United States by the Senate on February 8, 1837, no candidate having received a majority of the electoral vote, and served under President Martin Van Buren from March 4, 1837, to March 3, 1841; member, State house of representatives 1850; died in Frankfort, Ky., November 19, 1850; interment in the Frankfort Cemetery.

Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 4 letters.

Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn, NY
Papers: June 4, 1834; August 27, 1842. 2 letters.

Cornell University
Rare Books and Manuscript Collections
Ithaca, NY
Papers: April 22, 1837. 1 letter. From William Christy concerning boat trip to Louisville.

Filson Club Historical Society
Louisville, KY
Papers: Ca. 200 letters in the Richard M. Johnson miscellaneous papers; Thomas Henderson papers; Johnson family papers; and other collections.

Georgetown College Library
Georgetown, KY
Papers: Transcript of interview by Leland W. Meyer with John Y. Kelly conducted for Meyer's biography of Johnson.

Indiana Historical Society
Indianapolis, IN
Papers: 12 letters in various collections.

Johns Hopkins University
Milton S. Eisenhower Library
Baltimore, MD
Papers: In Edward M. Greenway collection, 1737-1876.

Kentucky Historical Society
Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1816, 1849. 3 items. Letters concerning politics.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1808-1847. 1 container; 160 items. Chiefly correspondence concerning financial and banking matters with some items relating to politics and discussions of various measures before the U.S. Congress.
Additional Papers: Material in United States War Department records, 1790-1840; Jeremy Robinson papers, 1806-1832; John Payne papers, 1780-1905; and John McLean papers, 1817-1861, available on microfilm.

Maryland Historical Society
Baltimore, MD
Papers: Correspondence in Francis Gallagher papers, 1848.

New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
Papers: 2 letters (June 8 and 17, 1833) in the Samuel L. Gouverneur papers. Finding aid.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1824-1848. 11 items.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division
Madison, WI
Papers: In Thomas Henderson correspondence, 1805-1841. 2 boxes. Includes photocopies of letters regarding the Choctaw Academy.

University of Kentucky Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
Lexington, KY
Papers: 1819-1848. 25 items.

University of Oklahoma
Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives
Norman, OK
Papers: In Cyrus Kingsbury correspondence, 1819-1869; and Peter Perkins Pitchlynn papers, 1815-1888.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: In Robert Whitehead papers, 1830-1978 (bulk 1830-1839).

Virginia State Library and Archives
Richmond, VA
Papers: In George Rust papers, 1788-1858 (bulk 1815-1858); and Tazewell family papers, 1756-1931.

Xavier University
McDonald Memorial Library
Cincinnati, OH
Papers: 2 letters (1833, 1838), one written from the U.S. Senate chamber, in the Moses Dawson correspondence, 1811-1845. Available on microfilm. Finding aid.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In John McLean papers, 1817-1861, on 18 microfilm reels of originals in Library of Congress.

  • Bolt, Robert. "Vice President Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky: Hero of the ThamesOr the Great Amalgamator?" Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 75 (July 1977): 191-203.
  • Brown, Thomas. "The Miscegenation of Richard Mentor Johnson as an Issue in the National Election Campaign of 1835-1836." Civil War History 39 (March 1993): 5-30.
  • Drake, Ella Wells. "Choctaw Academy: Richard M. Johnson and the Business of Indian Education." The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 91 (Summer 1993): 260-297.
  • Jones, Jonathan Milnor. "The Making of a Vice President: The National Political Career of Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Memphis, 1998.
  • Meyer, Leland. The Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky. 1932. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1967.
  • Padgett, James A., ed. "The Letters of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 38 (1940): 186-201, 323-39; 39 (1941): 22-46, 172-88, 260-74, 358-67; 40 (1942): 69-91.
  • Rouse, Shelley D. "Colonel Dick Johnson's Choctaw Academy: A Forgotten Educational Experiment." Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 25 (January 1916): 88-117.
  • Sprague, Stuart S. "The Death of Tecumseh and the Rise of Rumpsey Dumpsey: The Making of a Vice President." The Filson Club History Quarterly 59 (October 1985): 455-461.