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This Day in Georgia History

November 09, 1853

Herschel Johnson Sworn In

Herschel Johnson was sworn in as Georgia governor for the first of two consecutive two-year terms. Born in Burke County on Sept. 18, 1812, he graduated from the University of Georgia in 1834. Reading law in Augusta, he was admitted to the bar in 1834. After practicing law in Augusta, Louisville, and Milledgeville, Johnson became active in politics. In 1848, he was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate, where he served a year. Additionally, he served as a superior court judge from 1849 to 1853, when he was elected governor. In 1858, the General Assembly created a new Georgia county and named it in Johnson’s honor. In the presidential election of 1860, Johnson ran for the vice presidency with Stephen Douglas. After the Civil War, the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate, but that body would not seat him. Johnson’s political rights were restored in 1872, and he was subsequently appointed as a superior court judge - a position he held until his death in Jefferson County on Aug. 16, 1880.