From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson

From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson

From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson

From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson

Excerpt

Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." On this maxim, Samuel Johnson raised up his oldest son, William Samuel, whom he lovingly dubbed Sammy. Samuel Johnson was an intent and serious father, who with sternness but affection instilled in his son the lessons and loyalties he had formulated early in his own life.

In 1696 Samuel Johnson was born into a prominent and respected Connecticut family. His great-grandfather Robert Johnson had joined the exodus from England to the New World in 1638. With a group of fellow Yorkshiremen, the emigré Johnson planted the New Haven colony as an ideal Puritan community, free from persecution by the Church of England and its tyrannical Archbishop Laud, and committed to the communal religious life prescribed by John Calvin. When Robert Johnson died at New Haven in 1691, he bequeathed four sons to the New England experiment. One son attended Harvard College and settled in the Bay Colony, two remained in New Haven, and the fourth son William ventured out to the neighboring town of Guilford.

William Johnson earned recognition for the second generation of Johnsons in New England. When he testified to the Guilford congregation that he had experienced a "conversion" and was in direct communion with God, the congregation admitted him as an active communicant in the town's church. For many years thereafter he was elected a deacon. Everyone in Guilford attended the Congregational church and paid taxes for its support, but only the converted, Guilford's "visible saints," enjoyed the privileges of full church members, holding church offices and participating in the Lord's Supper.

William Johnson also took an active part in town govern-

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