Samuel Johnston of “Hayes” in Chowan County

Samuel Johnston. Image from  the State Archives.On August 17, 1816, Revolutionary era political leader Samuel Johnston died.

Born in Scotland, Johnston immigrated to North Carolina as an infant. Trained as a lawyer, he represented Chowan County in the colonial assembly until the advent of the American Revolution.

During the Revolution, Johnston was a strong leader of the Patriot cause. He was a member of North Carolina’s Provincial Council, a delegate to the first four provincial congresses and worked as treasurer to fund and supply the war effort.

Johnston continued to be active in public life after the war, earning wide respect. When North Carolina’s first constitutional convention met in Hillsborough in 1788, Johnston, a leading Federalist, was elected president, even though the majority of delegates were opposed to ratification. He served in the same role in 1789 convention in Fayetteville.

A relative of royal governor Gabriel Johnston, Johnston served in the state’s top job from 1787 to 1789, before being elected one of North Carolina’s first U.S. senators in 1789. After serving a single Senate term, he retired from public life briefly, before being called on to again serve in the state legislature, this time representing Martin County.

His last public position was a superior court judge between 1800 and 1803, and he died less than two weeks after retiring from that post. He is buried at “Hayes,” his Chowan home.

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