Richard Mentor Johnson, an American statesman, born near Louisville, Ky., Oct. 17, 1780, died in Frankfort, Nov. 19, 1850. He was educated at Transylvania university, and subsequently studied law and practised with success. He commenced his public career as a member of the Kentucky legislature, to which he was elected at the age of 23, and in 1807 was returned to congress, and remained a member of the house till 1819. He was a firm supporter of the administration of President Madison, and upon the commencement of the war of 1812 raised a body of Kentucky mounted riflemen, whom he commanded with the rank of colonel on the Canadian frontier. He resumed his legislative duties in the autumn of that year, but upon the adjournment of congress in the spring of 1813 he immediately raised another mounted regiment, with which he was employed for several months on the Indian frontier. In September he joined Gen. Harrison, then in pursuit of Proctor, and by the decisive charge of his mounted volunteers mainly contributed to the brilliant victory gained over the British and Indians at the battle of the Thames, Oct. 5. Col. Johnson fought with distinguished valor in this engagement, and it was-by his hand that the Indian leader Tecumseh is commonly supposed to have fallen.
He was carried from the field desperately wounded, his person, clothing, and horse having been pierced by more than 25 bullets; but in the following February he resumed his seat in congress. In 1819 he was elected to fill a vacancy in the United States senate, of which he continued a member till 1829, when he was again returned to the house of representatives, and held his seat there till March, 1837. Having been a candidate for vice president on the Van Buren ticket in 1836, and received a large plurality . of votes, though not a majority as required by the constitution, he was elected to the office by the senate, and discharged the duties of presiding officer of that body for four years. In the presidential election of 1840 he was again candidate of the democratic party for vice president, and was defeated. He returned to his farm in Scott co., Ky., after upward of 34 years' continuous public service, and thenceforth lived chiefly in retirement. He was, however, serving a term in the state legislature at the time of his death. In congress his chief efforts were against the discontinuance of the Sunday mails, and in behalf of soldiers of the revolution or of the war of 1812 who applied for pensions.
He was the author of the law abolishing imprisonment for debt in Kentucky.