Johnson Jones Hooper

American Literature

Johnson Jones Hooper (June 9, 1815—June 7, 1862) was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, of a well-known family that had fallen on hard times. Hooper’s father, a Harvard graduate, was unable to send him to college so at age 20, Hooper went to La Fayette, Alabama, to study law in his brother’s office. He practiced law, edited a newspaper and became involved in Alabama politics as a Whig. As the Civil War drew near, Hooper was elected Secretary and Librarian of the Confederate Congress. He began publishing humorous sketches in Alabama. His first such sketch “Taking the Census in Alabama,” (1843) caught the attention of William T. Porter, publisher of the New York Spirit of the Times. Porter reprinted it and several others of Hooper’s humorous pieces and encouraged the Southerner to write for a national audience. Hooper wrote the novel, Some Adventures of Simon Suggs, Late Captain of the Tallapoosa Volunteers (1845) which achieved a wide readership, but his involvement in Alabama politics convinced him that a reputation as a literary humorist would work against him. Porter tried to convince him otherwise, but to little avail. Hooper published one more book of humor and a book on hunting. Simon Suggs, a picaresque novel, is Hooper’s best-known work. Mark Twain knew the book well, and the incident of the Dauphin at the Pikesville camp meeting in Huckleberry Finn is modeled on Simon Suggs’ similar adventures.


Simon Suggs: Camp-Meeting