Johnson, Richard Mentor (1780-1850)
congressman, ninth vice-president, Autograph Letter Signed, Washington City, March 25, 1808, to Adam Beatty, Esq., Washington

quarto, 3 pages of four page bi-folium, old folds, some soiling on integral address leaf, free franked by Johnson, and with remains of sealing wax, else very good.

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Johnson writes to Adam Beatty (1777-1858), a Kentucky lawyer and agricultural writer, concerning Beatty's desire for an appointment. Johnson also discusses the President's proclamation, the Chesapeake Affair, and Rose's mission to Washington:

      "My Worthy Friend,

               I have received your several letters & have complied with your request by writing on to the different counties to obtain the information & documents you wish I shall be oblige you & will transmit the information or the result of my inquiries, tho I am very much confined to the City & with great difficulty can attend to business at a distance satisfactory to a friend tho I feel willing to do all in my power you are before the President well recommended & you will no doubt get an appointment if one should be now, or become vacant worth your attention - As to the office in Orleans I believe it is filled, as to Indiana Parke will be appointed I do expect. There is a vacancy in Michigan & perhaps in Louisiana I will do all in my power for you and tho you may not succeed now the time may not be distant. Rose has terminated his mission without making any atonement for the deep injury we have received - To meet his instructions President separated impressment from the affair of the Chesapeake without any hesitation & when Rose discovered the outrage would be treated alone he required a rescission of the proclamation interdicting British armed vessels in our waters & hospitality until secured against future injury. The President stated to Mr. Rose thro Mr. Madison that if Mr Rose would disclose hat reparation he would make & that reparation was satisfactory, the proclamation should be renewed so as to bear date with the atonement or Proclamation. Master Rose refused to do it & thus ended his mission & he has taken leave of the city for GB when you read his note to Mr. Madison you would suppose that he crossed the ocean to complain & demand concession from us rather than to make any atonement..."

           Richard M. Johnson was born, according to his own statement at Beargrass, a frontier settlement on the site of the present Louisville, Kentucky. His father and mother had emigrated from Virginia shortly before his birth, and shortly afterward they moved to Bryant's Station near the present Lexington, Kentucky. He studied under professors from Transylvania University. He was admitted to the bar in 1802, and in 1804 was elected to the state legislature. Two years later he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he sat from 1807 until 1819.

           In Congress Johnson supported President Jefferson and his embargo policy, and later favored the declaration of war against Great Britain. During the conflict which followed he left Washington to become colonel of mounted Kentucky rifleman. Having a natural aptitude for military affairs, he worked out a theory of combat for such troops, which he was soon able to put into practice with remarkable success. With this regiment he marched under Governor Shelby to join General Harrison on the Canadian border, and here took part in the battle of the Thames. In this engagement his troops bore the brunt of the attack, and a part of them commanded by his brother James, rode through the British lines to turn and attack the enemy from the rear. The Colonel, while charging the Indian allies of the British, was severely wounded, but his forces prevailed and he was carried from the field a hero. In the fighting he had killed an Indian chief, said by some to have been Tecumseh.

          Much of his subsequent political career was spent closely allied with Andrew Jackson. Jackson even suggested he should be vice-president under Van Buren, and accomplished his nomination by the same kind of strong-handed action which secured that of the presidential candidate. Failing to secure a majority of the electoral vote, he became the only vice-president ever elected by the Senate.

      American National Biography, vol. 12, pp., 118-120

     Dictionary of American Biography, vol. v, part two, pp., 114-116