Sir William Johnson

About this portrait

Sir William Johnson

In 1738 at the age of twenty-three, William Johnson arrived in America from Ireland to oversee his Uncle Peter Warren's land holdings south of the present day city of Amsterdam. Despite his promise to his uncle not to start a settlement of his own, William purchased a tract of land north of the Mohawk River in 1739. He moved there, building a house in 1743 called Mount Johnson. At the same time, he began prosperous trade with the Mohawk Indians on his own behalf. He and Catherine Weissenberg had three children - Ann, John and Mary. Trade with the Indians flourished, for Johnson was an efficient, diplomatic businessman. More importantly, he adopted Indian customs and dress and learned the Indian language, and dealt fairly in the exchange of both furs and advice, fur trade being the basis of his fortune.

Johnson soon became involved in colonial politics. He provisioned British military posts, kept the Indians friendly to the British, served in the New York colonial legislature. Johnson won military fame as a major general of the provincial militia and a commander when the French forces under Baron Dieskau' were defeated at the Battle of Lake George in 1755. Largely as a result of this victory, Johnson was made a baronet by King George II. In 1759 and 1760, Sir William won greater renown for military achievements at Fort Niagara and Montreal. During the long years of conflict which culminated in the French and Indian Wars, Johnson rose from the rank of colonel (1745) to major general (1755). His increasing influence with the Indians secured their assistance as powerful military allies. In 1755 with the help of the Mohawks, among them Joseph Brant, Johnson turned back the French at the Battle of Lake George. For his many years of faithful service, the British Crown made Johnson a baronet in 1755. The following year Sir William was appointed "Superintendent of all the affairs of the Six Nations and other Northern Indians" (north of the Ohio River) a position he held until his death.

Links to Web Sites

The Role of Sir William Johnson in the Colonial Development of America & his Involvement in the Expansionist Policies of the British Imperial Government by Paul Redmond Drew - Archiving Early America-Site

Sir William Johnson

Biography of Sir William Johnson

Molly Brant

More on Molly

Fort Johnson

Johnson Hall - His Home

Grave of Sir William Johnson, St. John's Episcopal Church, Johnstown, NY

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