Johnson earned his freedom in 1782 after finishing an apprenticeship with a Baltimore blacksmith named William Forepaw or Forepaugh. This was not unprecedented; within the 18th century, a small variety of slaves and free African People labored as apprentices to white artisans. Earlier than 1760, nonetheless, most skilled craftsmen have been both carpenters or cask repairmen. By the 1770s, they have been engaged in quite a few trades together with shoemaking, blacksmithing, and tailoring.
Throughout his time as a blacksmith, Johnson possible discovered find out how to assemble canvases and supply portray supplies.In line with property information, Johnson moved usually. He primarily lived in a piece of Baltimore that was standard with furnishings decorators, which means that he could have supplemented his revenue by portray furnishings.