Johnson, Herschel Vespasian, 1812–80, U.S. political leader, b. Burke co., Ga. Admitted to the bar in 1834, he filled (1848–49) an unexpired Senate term before serving as circuit court judge (1849–53) and Democratic governor of Georgia (1853–57). A proponent of both states' rights and unionism, Johnson in 1860 ran unsuccessfully for the vice presidency with Stephen A. Douglas against Abraham Lincoln. Although he opposed secession, Johnson later served (1862–65) in the Confederate senate, where he refused to support conscription and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Johnson was president of the 1865 Georgia constitutional convention and was elected (1866) to the U.S. Senate, but he was not allowed to take his seat. He was again a circuit court judge from 1873 until his death.
See biography by P. S. Flippin (1931).
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