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Zechariah Johnston Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: WLU-Coll-0006

Scope and Contents

The Zechariah Johnston papers, (inclusive 1747-1893), includes personal, business, political correspondence to and from Zechariah Johnston (1742-1800), some family members and notable Virginians of his era; resolutions, bills, petitions, and notices of or concerning the Virginia Assembly during Johnston’s tenure as a delegate from Augusta County (1778-1792) and Rockbridge County (1797-1798) including Johnston’s copy of an unsigned manuscript draft titled “Memorial and Remonstrance” by James Madison concerning religious freedom and his arguments for separation of church and state; deeds and property descriptions, tax rolls, business and account records, including documents pertaining to enslaved persons owned by Johnston; business and accounting records (1796-1845) of Thomas Johnston, a son of Zechariah Johnston; two letters from William Graham, first rector of Liberty Hall Academy, to Zechariah Johnston; other highlights include student notes or lectures from Liberty Hall Academy, a poem to reverends William Graham and Samuel Houston, a petition from Augusta County residents to the Virginia Assembly regarding fishing rights in the South River.


  • 1747 - 1893


Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

"Zachariah Johnston was born in 1742 in Augusta County, Virginia, to William Johnston and Ann Johnston. He attended Liberty Hall Academy and later was a trustee of Washington College. Johnston was a prosperous farmer by the time the American Revolution began. In 1776, he was appointed a captain in the county militia. Johnston's company actively patrolled against Indian uprisings, and, in 1781, participated in the Virginia campaign which led to Lord Cornwallis' surrender. Representing Augusta County in the House of Delegates from 1778 to 1791, Johnston was chair of the House committee on religion and helped pass the "act for establishing religious freedom" in 1786. After he moved to Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1792, he represented that county in the House of Delegates in 1792 and 1797-1798. An opponent of paper money, and a proponent of court reform and payment of British debts, Johnston supported the federal Constitution in 1788. As Augusta County's representative to the ratifying convention, he was influential in having his section of the state unanimously vote for ratification. In the 1790s, Johnston was interested in connecting Virginia's western rivers to the Potomac River. Johnston owned three plantations in Rockbridge County, one in Augusta County, and lands in Kentucky. He married Ann Robertson (d. 1818), and they had eleven children. He died 7 January 1800 in Rockbridge County." - Library of Virginia


1 Linear Feet (2 records boxes with 50 folders, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Two letters were a gift from John A. Graham.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA