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Sveinbjorn Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Picture of Sveinbjorn Johnson printed in The Bismarck Tribune on March 20, 1946
Picture of Sveinbjorn Johnson printed in The Bismarck Tribune on March 20, 1946

Sveinbjörn Johnson (July 10, 1883 – March 16, 1946) was an Icelandic-born American lawyer, politician and scholar.[1]


Johnson was born at Hólar in the Skagafjörður district of northern Iceland on July 10, 1883, the oldest of ten children born to John and Gudbjorn Johnson.[2][3] He came to Dakota Territory with his parents in 1887 at the age of four. His family settled on a farm in Pembina County, North Dakota.[3]

Johnson received his early education in the state's public schools, completing the combined seven-year high school and college course in four years.[3] He then attended the University of North Dakota, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1906, a master of arts degree in 1907 and a law degree in 1908. He subsequently undertook graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduation from law school, Johnson went to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he organized the legislative reference library.[3]

In 1911 Johnson opened a law office in Cavalier, North Dakota. In 1913 moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota to become a law partner of J. F. T. O'Connor.[3] In 1913 and 1915 he assisted members of the state legislature in drafting bills.[3] While overseeing his private practice, Johnson simultaneously lectured in Political Science and Law at the University of North Dakota.[4]

Following the recall of William Lemke, Johnson was in 1921 elected North Dakota Attorney General. In 1922 he was elected justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, defeating the incumbent James Robinson.[1]

On December 1, 1926, Johnson resigned from the North Dakota Supreme Court and became legal counsel and Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[1][5] In 1942, while serving as state director of the federal office of government reports, Johnson became involved in a heated controversy with Illinois Attorney General George F. Barrett over the matter of holding federal and state jobs at the same time.[4]

Johnson resigned from the University of Illinois on September 1, 1944. He ran unsuccessfully against Barrett for the position of Illinois Attorney General in 1944.[1][6] On January 1, 1945, he opened a law office in Chicago, practicing law in both Chicago and Champaign, Illinois.[1]

Johnson suffered from a heart attack in his office and died on March 16, 1946. He was survived by his wife Esther Slette of Manchester, Minnesota and his son Paul, who served as a Captain in the United States Army during World War II.[4]

Johnson was the author of numerous books on law and history, particularly with regards to his native Iceland.[4] He was a recipient of honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Iceland in 1930 and the University of North Dakota.[1] In 1939 he was decorated a Knight of the Order of the Falcon by Christian X of Denmark.[4]

Selected works


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Sveinbjorn Johnson". North Dakota Supreme Court. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  2. ^ "Sveinbjorn Johnson". Chicago Bar Records. 28: 187-?. 1946.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Former N. D. Supreme Court Justice Dies". The Bismarck Tribune. March 20, 1946. p. 1.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sveinbjorn Johnson, Former Counsel At State University, Dies at Age 62". Daily Dispatch. March 20, 1946. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Sveinbjorn Resigns Supreme Court Work". The Daily Illini. November 30, 1926. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Johnson, Sveinbjorn (1883-1946)". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved December 29, 2019.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Lemke
Attorney General of North Dakota
Succeeded by
George F. Shafer
This page was last edited on 2 August 2020, at 22:34
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