Reference Entry

Johnson, Samuel

in American National Biography Online


Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697

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Anglican priest-missionary, philosopher, and college president, was born in Guilford, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Johnson, a fuller, and Mary Sage. Samuel was devoted to books and learning even as a small boy. At fourteen he entered the Collegiate School (later Yale College). Adept in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, he began a lifetime of intellectual activity by composing “A Synopsis of Natural Philosophy,” which he expanded into “An Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Even before graduation in 1714, Johnson began teaching school at Guilford, and in 1716 he was made a tutor of the Collegiate School. Johnson expanded his intellectual horizons by voluminous reading in the library collected by Jeremiah Dummer and in discussions with Yale friends and fellow tutors, among them the new rector of the college, Timothy Cutler. Because of a student upheaval, Johnson resigned as tutor in 1719.

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