July 20, 2019 09:00 AM EDT Asheville, North Carolina


James Peale, Sr.

(Pennsylvania/Maryland, 1749-1831) 

Governor Samuel Johnston (Scotland 1733-1816 North Carolina), 1793, completed at the time he was serving as a US Senator from North Carolina, signed "J.P. 1793", watercolor on ivory, 2-1/2 x 1-7/8 in. casework, tests 14kt plain bezel frame with cobalt glass surround and window with braided hair, 3 x 2 in.; with red leather case


Samuel Johnston was three years old when he came to America with his family and settled in Eastern North Carolina. He was the nephew of Gabriel Johnston who was the Colonial Governor from 1730 to 1752. After studying law in North Carolina, he was admitted to the bar in 1767 and established a legal practice in Edenton.

Johnston began his political career when he was appointed the Clerk of Court for Chowan County, and in 1759, he was elected to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly which was displaced in 1775 upon the start of the Revolution. Starting in 1774, he served as a delegate to the first four Provincial Congresses and presided over the third and fourth Congresses in 1775 and 1776. When he succeeded John Harvey upon his death as the moderator of the Provincial Council and then as President, he became the highest ranking politician in the state, thus putting him in the role of acting Governor upon the abdication of the Royal Governor, Josiah Martin (1737-1786).

North Carolina was the first state to declare independence in 1775,  with her constitution one of the earliest to be formed. The early leadership of this notable patriot is to be credited in part.

In 1780, Johnston was elected as a member of the Continental Congress and presided over both conventions called to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788 and 1789. He was the duly elected Governor of North Carolina and served from 1787 to 1789.

A U.S. Senator from 1789 to 1793, he returned from Congress to hold his last political office as a North Carolina Superior Court judge, which he held until the age of seventy in 1803. On retirement he quoted a soldier saying, "Some time should be interposed between life and death." Governor Samuel Johnston passed away on August 17, 1806, and was buried at Hayes Plantation, near Edenton, North Carolina. 

This portrait is thought to be the only known likeness of Samuel Johnston.

References: The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.. New York: J.T. White, 1902, Vol. IV, pg. 420

National Governor's Association, 2015, Governor Samuel Johnston, May 3,2019, https://classic.nga.org/cms/home/governors/past-governors-bios/page_north_carolina/col2-content/main-content-list/title_johnston_samuel.default.html

Provenance:Governor Samuel Johnston, North Carolina; By descent in Johnson/Iredell family


good condition, dust under glass, breaks to cobalt blue glass verso; leather case with wear

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000

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