John Brown – Continental Congressman – Virginia


John Brown (September 12, 1757{spaced ndash}August 29, 1837) was an American lawyer and statesman heavily involved with creating the State of Kentucky.

Brown represented Virginia in the Continental Congress (1777–1778) and the U.S. Congress (1789–1791). While in Congress, he introduced the bill granting Statehood to Kentucky. Once that was accomplished, he was elected a U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

==Early life==

John Brown was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on September 12, 1757. John Brown was the son of Reverend John Brown and Margaret Preston Brown, immigrants from Ireland. The son of a Presbyterian minister and schoolmaster, John was well educated, first at his father’s Liberty Hall Academy, and then at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). His studies at Princeton were halted, temporarily, as a result of the approach of English troops during the American Revolutionary War.

John Brown’s role during the Revolutionary War is unclear. The family belief was that Brown served under General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette in the Continental Army, however no documentation has been located to prove this theory. Two years after he left the College of New Jersey (1778), John Brown enrolled at The College of William & Mary where he studied law. Again, in the fall of 1780, his studies were interrupted by the War and the arrival of the British forces. Brown then continued to study law in the office of Thomas Jefferson near Charlottesville, Virginia.

==Family life==

He married Margaretta Mason on February 21, 1799.

They had five children, only two of whom lived to adulthood. Mason Brown (November 10, 1799-January 27, 1867) was born in Philadelphia. Orlando (September 26, 1801-July 26, 1867) was born at Liberty Hall. Alfred was born at Liberty Hall on February 23, 1803 and died on January 29, 1804; a second Alfred was born on May 9, 1804 and died on July 30, 1805. Euphemia Helen, their youngest child and only daughter, was born on May 24, 1807 and died of a calomel overdose on October 1, 1814.

Descendants of John and Margaretta Brown include Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown, the 20th Governor of Missouri and Vice Presidential candidate in the 1872 election, and children’s author Margaret Wise Brown.


===Virginia legislature===

Brown became politically active after being admitted to the bar, and was elected to the Virginia state Senate, where he served from 1783 to 1788. The Virginia legislature sent him as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1787 and 1788. When the U.S. Constitution became effective, he was twice elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1789 to 1792.

===Kentucky statehood===

As a Virginia Congressman, Brown introduced the petition for Kentucky Statehood. When Kentucky became a state in 1792, he resigned from the House on June 1, 1792. On June 18, Kentucky elected him to the United States Senate for a term ending in 1793. He was re-elected twice and served until 1805. He was President pro tem during the Eighth Congress. During Brown’s Senate service, he moved to Frankfort, Kentucky.

==Other works==

In 1805, John Brown was defeated for re-election to the Senate and retired to Liberty Hall. John Brown remained active in a number of public matters for the remaining thirty years of his life. In 1800, he purchased a ferry that crossed the Kentucky River in Frankfort. John Brown also managed large areas in central Kentucky and {convert|20,000|acre|km2} near Chillicothe, Ohio. He was a founding member of the Frankfort Water Company and director of the first Bank of Kentucky. In 1812 John Brown was appointed by the legislature to oversee the construction of a public house of worship on the public square of Frankfort. In 1829 John Brown became the Sheriff of Franklin County. John Brown served on the board that oversaw the brick Capitol building and the limestone one that replaced it and is now known as the Old Capitol. In 1836, John Brown presided over the organizational meeting of the Kentucky Historical Society.

==Liberty Hall==

John Brown died on August 29, 1837 in Lexington, Kentucky and was brought home to Frankfort for burial. In 1847, he was re-interred in the Frankfort Cemetery. The home he occupied in his later years is preserved as Liberty Hall Historic Site located at 202 Wilkinson Street in Frankfort, Kentucky. The site contains two houses: Liberty Hall (1796) built by John Brown, and the Orlando Brown House (1835), designed by Gideon Shryock, and owned by Senator Brown’s second son. Liberty Hall is operated as a museum and is open to the public. Liberty Hall Historic Site is a 501(c)3 organization owned and operated by Liberty Hall, Inc., and The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.