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The object of the present publication, is to collect, into one volume, the principal speeches and writings of Gov. Browx, for better preservation by his friends, and for more easy access by all who, at any time, may wish to make reference to them.
They cover a space of many years, and embrace all the controverted questions of public policy, State and national, from the first canvass of General Jackson for the Presidency, to the present time. Their publication, we believe, will present the most condensed and accurate record of the party struggles of this State, any where to be met with, and must, therefore, prove an acceptable work to the public at large. To the younger politicians of both parties, who desire to be familiar with the past, as well as the present political history of the State, it must be invaluable.
AARON V. Brown, late Governor of Tennessee, was born on the 15th of August, 1795, in the county of Brunswick, Virginia. His father, the Rev. Aaron Brown, enlisted, when not yet of lawful age, for three years in the Revolutionary army. He was in the battle of Trenton, and participated in that ever-memorable march through the Jerseys, where the course of the American army was known to the enemy by the blood of its bare-footed soldiery. He was also one of the sufferers in the encampment, at Valley Forge, during the severe winter of 1777-8, where disease, and famine, and nakedness, so often drew tears from the illustrious Washington. At the close of his term of service, he returned to the county of Brunswick, where he continued to reside for nearly forty years in the midst of those who had witnessed his early and patriotic career, respected and beloved by all as a faithful and useful minister of the gospel, of the Methodist persuasion; an upright civil magistrate, a staunch republican of the old Jefferson school, and an honest man. The subject of this memoir was the issue of his second marriage, with Elizabeth Melton, (corrupted from Milton,) of Northampton county, in the State of North Carolina.
Except in the simplest elements, Gov. Brown was educated in the last-mentioned State. He was sent when very young to Westrayville Academy, in the county of Nash, in order to be placed under the care of Mr. John Bobbitt, one of the best scholars and teachers of the time. After continuing here for two years, he was transferred, in the year 1812, to the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. He graduated in this institution, in 1814, in a large class, of which Senator Mangum and ex-Governor Manley, of North Carolina, were also members. The duty was assigned to him by the faculty, and confirmed by the trustees, of delivering the valedictory oration on commencement day, and the service was performed in a manner which produced the most striking impression on the large assembly then in attendance. The collegiate career of but few young men is marked by incidents of sufficient importance to be recited in a notice like this. Industry in preparing for and punctuality in attending at the hour of recitation, as well as the most cheerful conformity to the rules of the institution, were the most striking characteristics of his educational course.
Having finished his educational course, Gov. Brown returned to his parents, who in the previous year, had removed to the county of Giles, in the State of Tennessee. About the beginning of the year 1815, he commenced the study
of law in the office of the late Judge Trimble, in the town of Nashville. With this gentleman he continued to read for two years, and now often refers to him as one of the most systematic, able and upright men he ever knew. Having obtained a license, he opened an office in Nashville, and commenced practice in that city with the most flattering prospects of success. About this time, however, Alfred M. Harris, who was engaged in a very extensive practice in nearly all the southern counties of Middle Tennessee, accepted a place on the bench, and solicited Gov. Brown to remove to the county of Giles and close up his extensive business for him. The opportunity was inviting, and that being the residence of his now aged parents, he determined to settle in that county. Taking charge at once of an extensive practice, both civil and criminal, including the land litigation, then an important and almost distinctive branch of the profession, Gov. Brown found all the resources of his mind brought into immediate requisition. No time was to be lost in idleness -none to be devoted to pleasure. We remember that one of his maxims about this period was, “ Always to be first at court, and never to leave it until the adjourning order was made.” Under such habits it was no matter of surprise to those who observed them, that there were but few causes of importance in the counties in which he practised, in which he was not engaged.
In a few years after Gov. Brown commenced his career in Giles, the late President Polk commenced his in Columbia, in the adjoining county of Maury. They soon formed a partnership in their profession, thereby extending the field of their professional labors into more counties than they could have done without that arrangement. This partnership continued for several years, and until Mr. Polk engaged in his congressional career. Its dissolution brought no termination to that lial friendship, personal and political, in which it had commenced, and which continued unabated until the death of the late lamented president. Gov. Brown continued engaged in his profession until the year 1839, when, having been elected to Congress, he gave it up altogether. Much of the time in which he was in regular and full practice he was also a member of one branch or the other of the state legislature. This service being near home, and the counties he represented being those in which he practised, produced no material impediment to the progress of his professional business. But the case was different in the distant service in the Congress of the United States.
Gov. Brown served as a senator, from the counties of Lincoln and Giles, at all the sessions of the legislature, regular and called, from 1821 to 1827, inclusive, except the session of 1825, when he was not a candidate. In the session •f 1831 and 1832, he was the representative of the county of Giles in the other branch of the general assembly. His course was distinguished at all times, as a legislator for the state, for his determination to sustain an independent and able judiciary, and to build up an enlightened, liberal, and impartial system of jurisprudence in the state; and, we hazard nothing in saying, that, in searching t'ırough the statutes, one will find more laws of a general and permanent nature which emanated from him than from any one of the other public men of the state. He was longer in that service, and, by professional experience, may be presumed to have understood the defects of existing laws, and how to remedy them. Throughout his service in the legislature he evinced a strong disposition to diminish the number of offences which should be capitally punished. He did not propose or wish to abolish such punishments altogether, but only to reduce and limit them down to the smallest possible number of cases, consistent with the necessary self-defence of society against the aggressions of the lawless and abandoned. At the session of 1831-32, by the order of the judiciary committee, he prepared an elaborate and able report, which he submitted to the house, on the subject of capital punishments, which attracted great attention throughout the Union.
Gov. Brown first became a candidate for Congress in 1839. At two former elections the whigs had carried his district by majorities ranging from eleren to twelve hundred votes. His competitor, the Hon. E. J. Shields, had served in the two preceding Congresses. He was a gentleman of fine talents, and one of the most plausible and handsome debaters of his party. When the election came off, however, Gov. Brown was found not only to have overcon.e the large party majority against him, but to have overcome it by the immense majority of sixteen hundred and one votes. He was re-elected for the called session of Congress in 1811, without having any opposition. In 1843, the congressional district was altered so as greatly to diminish the democratic majority by which Gov. Brown had been usually elected in the old district. This induced hopes that he might possibly be beaten in the new one, and all the regu:lar steps were taken to present a competitor in the person of the Hon. N. S. Brown, now minister to Russia. The result, however, demonstrated that the democracy of the new district, although not in so large a majority as in the old one, was nevertheless equally invincible.
During the period of his congressional service, beginning in 1839 and ending in 1815, Gov. Brown seems to have been an active member, taking a part in nearly all the great questions which came up during that eventful portion of our political history.
In May, 1810, he delivered a speech in reply to Mr. Bell, on the bill intrcduced by that gentleman,“ to secure the freedom of elections.” He also made a speech on the celebrated New-Jersey case, having been a member of the committee which reported on the same. Ilis speech on the burning of the Caroline, to be found in the Congressional Globe and appendix of 1841, was listened to by the house with profound attention and emotion, and is regarded by his friends as one of his ablest efforts in Congress. Ile was a member of the committee which framed the tariff of 1842, and united with the minority in presenting a report against the principles and details of that measure. When the bill came up for discussion, Gov. Brown made a clear and powerful argument against it, opening the debate on the democratic side of the house. On the 4th of August, 1841, he delivered a speech against the fiscal bank bill, which occupied so large a portion of public solicitude at that time. He made speeches in 1814 on the remission of the fine imposed on Gen. Jackson at New-Orleans, and against receiving and reporting on abolition petitions; also, on the right of members elected by general ticket to their seats.
It was in December, 1844, that Gov. Brown found it necessary to reply to sundry specches of Mr. Adams, made in Massachusetts, in relation to the negotiation of the Florida treaty. That reply having a direct reference to in