Albert G. Brown

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Albert Brown
Hon. Brown - NARA - 528693.jpg
Confederate States Senator
from Mississippi
In office
February 18, 1862 – May 10, 1865
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
United States Senator
from Mississippi
In office
January 7, 1854 – January 12, 1861
Preceded by Walker Brooke
Succeeded by Hiram Revels
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Mississippi's 4th congressional district
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1853
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Wiley P. Harris
14th Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 10, 1844 – January 10, 1848
Preceded by Tilghman Tucker
Succeeded by Joseph Matthews
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Mississippi's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1841
Preceded by Thomas J. Word
Succeeded by William M. Gwin
Personal details
Born (1813-05-31)May 31, 1813
Chester County, South Carolina, U.S.
Died June 12, 1880(1880-06-12) (aged 67)
Terry, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Mississippi College
Jefferson College, Mississippi

Albert Gallatin Brown (May 31, 1813 – June 12, 1880) was Governor of Mississippi from 1844 to 1848 and a Democrat United States Senator from Mississippi from 1854 to 1861, when he withdrew during secession.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born to Joseph and Elizabeth (Rice) Brown, a poor farming family, in the Chester District of South Carolina, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in 1813.[2] In 1823, when he was only 10 years old his family moved to the new state of Mississippi. The Brown family settled Copiah County, south of the state capital, Jackson. Raising cotton in the new frontier state proved to be lucrative for the Brown family.[2] In 1824, just one year after settling in Mississippi, Joseph Brown was elected Justice of the Peace in Copiah County. By 1825, two years after arriving in Mississippi, he was third-largest taxpayer in the county, owning 18 slaves. By 1832, he was farming a plantation of 1,600 acres and owned 23 slaves.[2]

In 1829, Albert Brown entered Mississippi College, but he soon transferred to Jefferson College, which he attended for about six months.[2]

Political career[edit]

During his lifetime, Brown was one of the most popular and the most influential men in Mississippi. He is considered to be the father of the public school system and of the University of Mississippi. His rhetorical attacks on illiteracy are considered to have made a substantial contribution to the cause of education in Mississippi.

He was also a Fire-Eater and a strong advocate for the expansion of slavery. In 1858, he said: "I want a foothold in Central America... because I want to plant slavery there.... I want Cuba,... Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican States; and I want them all for the same reason - for the planting or spreading of slavery." (Akhil Reed Amar, America's Constitution, A Biography (2005) 267, quoting M.W. Mcklusky, ed., Speeches, Messages, and Other Writings of the Hon. Albert G. Brown (1859), 594-5) Indeed, he went on to say, "I would spread the blessings of slavery, like the religion of our Divine Master, to the uttermost ends of the earth."

To those who agreed with such views, "Albert Gallatin Brown possessed magical powers. With many learnt spells, handsome continence, surrounded by a luxuriant, flowing beard and dark-curly hair, in every sense he looked distinguished. Courageous, he was void of vanity; animated, he was persuasive; his spirit, crackerish to the extreme." In his speech, Reuben Davis, who knew him well, states in his book Reminiscences on Mississippi and Mississippians that Brown "was the best balanced man I ever knew.... In politics he had strategy with-out corruption, and handled all his opponents with skill but never descended to intrigue." During a lifetime, most of which was spent in an epoch of bitter controversy, his most intimate friends never heard him speak ill of others.

Brown served three terms in the state legislature, four in the US Congress, one on the circuit bench. He was twice elected United States senator, twice Governor, and once senator in the Confederate Congress. Rand wrote that "the political career of Albert Gallatin Brown provides one of the most amazing chapters in Mississippi history."

Death[edit]

Overcome by a stroke of apoplexy, Brown fell face down in a shallow pond at his home near Terry in 1880. His last remains rest in Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson.

Personal life[edit]

Brown's first wife was Elizabeth Frances Thornton Taliaferro (1817–1836) of Virginia, who died about five months after the marriage. She was the daughter of Richard Henry Taliaferro, Sr. (1783–1830) and Frances Walker Gilmer (ca. 1784-1826).

Brown's second wife was Roberta Eugenia Young (1813–1886), daughter of Brig. Gen. Robert Young (1768–1824) and Elizabeth Mary Conrad (1772–1810). Roberta's older sister was Elizabeth Mary Young (1804–1859), the wife of Philip Richard Fendall II (1794–1867), the District Attorney of the District of Columbia.

Legacy[edit]

In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, a narrative written by the escaped slave Harriet Jacobs, Brown is called out by Jacobs for supporting slavery in a speech to Congress despite the fact that he "could not be ignorant of [the wrongdoings perpetrated against slaves], for they are of frequent occurrence in every Southern State." [3]

Brown County, Kansas, is named after him.

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1992 alternate history/science fiction novel The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, Brown is an important supporting character.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BROWN, Albert Gallatin - Biographical Information". U.S. Congress. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ranck, p. 1.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Harriet A., Lydia Maria Child, and Jean Fagan. Yellin. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1987. Print. p. 136

Sources[edit]