Bedford Brown (1795 – 1870)

Written By North Carolina History Project

Born in Caswell County, North Carolina on June 6, 1795, Bedford Brown served in the North Carolina House of Commons and was later elected to the U.S. Senate as a Jacksonian in 1829. After nearly a decade in the Senate, Brown resigned in 1840. He passed away on December 6, 1870.

Bedford Brown, the third of Jethro and Lucy Brown’s eight children, grew up in the Locus Hill area of Caswell County. From an early age, Brown enjoyed farming, but he later studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Yet after a year, Brown left.  He had been elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1815.

Serving from 1815 until 1818, Representative Brown later served in 1823 before returning to his Rose Hill farm in his native county. Brown worked his farm until 1828, when replaced Bartlett Yancey, a North Carolina Senator who had served eleven terms at the General Assembly. Brown eventually became the speaker pro tempore of the NC Senate.  He was later elected to replace John Branch as a U. S. Senator in 1829.

Brown was an ardent supporter of President Andrew Jackson and consistently voted along Democratic Party lines. Senator Brown supported both President Jackson and later President Martin Van Buren, but he did not endorse nullification. As a states’ rights Unionist, Brown opposed John C. Calhoun and others in Washington, D.C.  In addition, Brown served on the agricultural and revolutionary claims committees.

Both Brown and fellow North Carolinian Robert Strange performed the unthinkable when they resigned from the Senate. The two Senators wanted to prove their popularity by winning the election of 1840. However, Brown’s plan backfired because Whigs gained leverage in the North Carolina General Assembly. The assembly elected Willie P. Mangum and William A. Graham to replace the two Democrat senators.

After he lost his seat, Brown and his family moved away from North Carolina but returned to the farm at Rose Hill in 1855.  In 1858, Brown reentered politics and was elected to the North Carolina Senate.  He served there until 1864. A few years later, Brown was elected to the state senate again in 1868, but he was never allowed to attend because Republicans controlled the legislative body.

Bedford Brown married Mary Glenn in 1816 and the couple had seven children. Brown passed away in 1870, and he was buried at his family farm in Rose Hill.