Alexander S. Johnson

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Alexander Johnson
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
In office
October 25, 1875 – January 26, 1878
Appointed by Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by Lewis B. Woodruff
Succeeded by Samuel Blatchford
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
January 1, 1858 – December 31, 1859
Preceded by Hiram Denio
Succeeded by George F. Comstock
Personal details
Born (1819-01-01)January 1, 1819
Utica, New York, U.S.
Died July 20, 1878(1878-07-20) (aged 59)
Nassau, Bahamas
Political party Democratic (Formerly)
Education Yale University (BA)

Alexander Smith Johnson (July 30, 1817 Utica, Oneida County, New York – January 26, 1878 Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He was Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1858 to 1859.


He was the son of Alexander Bryan Johnson and Abigail Louisa Smith (Adams) Johnson (1798–1836); she was a daughter of Charles Adams (1770-1800) and Sally Smith, a niece of William Stephens Smith, and a granddaughter of President John Adams and Abigail Adams.

He graduated from Yale College in 1835. Then he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1838, and commenced practice in Utica in partnership with Samuel Beardsley. In 1839 he removed to New York City and formed a partnership with Elisha P. Hurlbut.

In 1852, Johnson married Catherine M. Crysler (1833–1898), and they had four children.

He was a judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1852 to 1859, elected on the Democratic ticket, and was Chief Judge from 1858 to 1859. In 1859, Hamilton College conferred the title of LL.D. on him. In November 1859, he was defeated for re-election by Republican Henry E. Davies. Afterwards he resumed his law practice in Utica.

In 1864, he was appointed United States Commissioner for the settlement of the claims of the Hudson Bay and Puget Sound Companies under the Oregon Treaty, Great Britain being represented by Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet. Warm praise was awarded Judge Johnson in both England and Canada for the sagacity that he displayed in the peaceful settlement of these difficulties, which at one time threatened serious results.

In December 1873, he was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor John Adams Dix to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Rufus W. Peckham, Sr.. In November 1874, he ran for a full term on the Republican ticket, but was defeated, and left the bench on December 31, 1874.

In October 1875, he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant Circuit Judge of the Second U. S. Judicial Circuit. He died in office in 1878, and was buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica, NY.


  • [1] Sketch of the candidate, in NYT on September 26, 1874
  • [2] The federal judge nomination, in NYT on October 21, 1875
  • [3] Death notice in NYT on February 3, 1878
  • [4] His wife's obit in NYT on February 6, 1898
  • The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (page 348; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)

Further reading[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Hiram Denio
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
George F. Comstock
Preceded by
Lewis B. Woodruff
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
Succeeded by
Samuel Blatchford