Vice President Richard M. Johnson

Historical Marker #1125 in Johnson County commemorates the county being named for War of 1812 veteran and U.S. Vice President Richard M. Johnson.

Born in 1781 in what is now Jefferson County, Johnson's formative years were spent in Fayette County. He attended Transylvania University and studied law, which he practiced in Scott County. A state legislator and U.S. congressman, Johnson was a congressional "War Hawk" who voted for war with Great Britain in 1812.

Commissioned colonel and ultimately known as the "Father of American Cavalry," Johnson led Kentucky volunteers during the War of 1812. His fame grew after the Battle of the Thames, fought in Canada in October 1813. Wounded there, Johnson reputedly killed the Indian chief Tecumseh in this important American victory.

His status as a war hero secure, Johnson used the War of 1812 to vault himself into higher political office. He remained in Congress until 1819, became a U.S. senator, and was elected U.S. vice president, serving under Martin Van Buren. After his term, Johnson returned to the Kentucky legislature. He died in 1850 and was buried in Frankfort. Johnson County was named in his honor in 1843.


Richard M. Johnson Powder Horn

Richard M. Johnson Powder Horn

This scrimshawed powder horn may have belonged to Richard M. Johnson, War of 1812 veteran and U.S. Vice President. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Vice President Richard M. Johnson,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 25, 2017,


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