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Today In Charleston History: December 27

1771 – Births  

William Johnson was born in Charleston. He would later serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.


William Johnson

His father, William Johnson, was a revolutionary, and deported by Sir Henry Clinton to St. Augustine with other distinguished South Carolina patriots. [His mother, Sarah Johnson, née Nightingale, was also a revolutionary. During the siege of Charleston, she quilted her petticoats with cartridges, which she thus conveyed to her husband in the trenches. 

The younger Johnson studied law at Princeton and graduated  in 1790. He read law in the office of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney before passing the bar in 1793. Johnson was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by Thomas Jefferson on March 22, 1804, to a seat vacated by Alfred Moore. He was the first of Jefferson’s three appointments to the court, and is considered to have been selected for sharing many of Jefferson’s beliefs about the Constitution. Johnson was the first member of the U.S. Supreme Court that was not a member of the Federalist Party.


Johnson’s Row, 22-28 Queen Street, Charleston. Photo by Brian Stansberry. 

Johnson’s Row in Charleston on Queen Street, is named after him.


Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, congratulated Lt. Gov. Bull on his handling of the tea situation, saying the events in Charlestown:

altho not equal in criminality to the Proceedings in other Colonies, can yet be considered in no other light than that of a most unwarrantable insult to the authority of this Kingdom.


The Douglass Company opened the last theatrical season until after the Revolution in a newly constructed theater on Church Street (the Dock Street Theater had been destroyed in the 1740 fire). The Company performed seventy-seven plays and farces.

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