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William Johnson was a free man of color in antebellum Natchez. He acquired several building in Natchez, approximately 2,000 acres of land south of town and he owned several slaves. He gained the respect of leading citizens of the time, some of whom he loaned money to, and local papers eulogized him after his untimely death.
William Johnson kept a diary for almost sixteen years, from 1835 until his death in 1851. It is the lengthiest and most detailed personal narrative authored by an African American during the antebellum era in the United States.
Johnson’s diary evolved into an extraordinary record of social, economic, and political life in his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, as seen through the eyes of a free man of color. Johnson covers everything from the mundane like Johnson’s search for a lost cow to the momentous such as former president Andrew Jackson’s visit to Natchez.
Operated by the National Park Service, William Johnson’s House is open seven days a week from 9:00am-4:30 p.m. and is free to the public. It contains a bookstore, exhibit room and fully furnished recreated living quarters.