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The Curious Case of Vice President Richard Johnson

So the latest electoral-vote.com report [scroll down] mentioned Vice President Richard Johnson who served under Martin Van Buren. The man's got an interesting story.

During the 1836 election, Van Buren chose Johnson because of his record as a war hero, having been credited with killing Indian leader Tecumseh in the War of 1812. The only trouble was Johnson's relationship with his slave Julia Chinn (of mixed ancestry). Many men had such relationships at the time, but they kept them on the down-low. Johnson had it in the open and considered her to be his common-law wife. According to this page [i.e. random person on the Internet], he said, "Unlike Jefferson, Clay, Poindexter and others, I married my wife under the eyes of God, and apparently He has found no objections."

Johnson and Chinn had two daughters together, and he insisted (often in vain) that they be accepted in society. There was an incident where he was giving a speech and asked his daughters to sit with the white women. When the white women kicked his daughters out, Johnson gave an abbreviated speech, grabbed his daughters, and left.

So in large part because of this, he barely got the Democratic Party's nomination even though Van Buren was popular. During the general election, Van Buren won, but Virginia's 23 electors refused to heed their state decision and did not vote for Johnson, leaving him one electoral vote short. This led to the only time in history that the Senate had to vote for the Vice President (there being no one with a majority electoral college vote), and he won along party lines there. In 1840, Van Buren didn't ask him back on the re-election ticket, running without a mate. (Van Buren ended up losing.)

Back to his interracial family: Both of his daughters married white men, and he gave them a lot of land. One of his daughters died young, in 1936. When Johnson himself died, the courts ruled that his other daughter was not a legitimate heir

So I was reading this, and it sounded like he was a pretty stand-up guy on the whole standing up to racism thing. But the I read this bit: After his wife's death, he had a relationship with another slave. When she left him for another man, he had her captured and then auctioned off! So much for slaves' rights.

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