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Jackson's Bodyguard: Lawyers Who Fought in the Battle of New Orleans: Johnson

• Born in Virginia

• Member of the Virginia Bar

• Moved to the Territory of Orleans, 1809

• Practiced law in Donaldsonville, Louisiana

• Delegate from Attakapas Parish to the first Louisiana Constitutional Convention, 1812

• “H. Johnson” is listed as Private (No first name given; presumed to be “Henry Johnson”), Captain Peter V. Ogden’s Company of Orleans Dragoons, Battle of New Orleans, 1814-1815

• United States Senator from Louisiana, 1818-1824; 1844-1849

• Fifth Governor of Louisiana, 1824-1828

• Signed Act creating Jefferson Parish, February 11, 1825

• Governor when General Andrew Jackson visited New Orleans for the 13th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, January 1828

• United States Representative from Louisiana, 1834-1839

• While serving as U.S. Congressman in 1838, Johnson was one of two Louisiana residents who purchased 272 enslaved persons from Fr. Thomas Mulledy, head of the United States Jesuits at Georgetown College, Washington, D.C., for $115,000. The Georgetown enslaved persons were then shipped to Louisiana in 1838

• Moved to New Roads, Louisiana in Pointe Coupée Parish to practice law, 1850

• Married to Elizabeth Key, first cousin of Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star Spangled Banner,” and had no surviving children

• Author Benson J. Lossing stated that Ex-Governor Henry Johnson, lawyer Alfred Hennen, and James Hopkins were the last three survivors of Ogden’s Company in Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812, April 1861

• Johnson died on his 12,000 acre plantation “Woodley” in Pointe Coupee Parish, near the town of Valverda, Louisiana, during the Civil War, 1864

• There might have been some controversy concerning Johnson’s military service at the Battle of New Orleans. In July 1841, independent Whigs opposing Henry Johnson’s election as governor, argued that Johnson did not defend Louisiana in 1815:
“Because in 1815, at the time of the English invasion, Mr. Johnson did not prove himself a Louisianian at heart by defending his adopted State, nor a true American by bravely combatting for one of the sisters of the great federal family.” Baton Rouge Gazette, July 10, 1841

Top right image: Governor Henry Johnson, silver gelatin print on paper, undated, by Ernest J. Bellocq (1873-1949). Gift of Ernest J. Bellocq. Courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum.

Left image: Courtesy of Jefferson Historical Society of Louisiana.

Bottom right image: Georgetown University Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, “What We Know Booklet,” 2015, Georgetown Slavery Archive.