Bedford Brown (1795-1870) is remembered as a politician who dedicated himself to the preservation of the United States before, during, and after the war he feared the most. Born to Jethro and Lucy Brown on June 6, 1795, Bedford Brown spent his adolescence in present-day Locus Hill Township in Caswell County. Raised on a farm, he was trained as a planter, but attended the University of North Carolina for only one year before entering politics.
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When he was twenty years old, Brown was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1815, where he served three terms consecutively and a fourth term in 1823. After a short hiatus on his farm at “Rose Hill,’ he replaced Bartlett Yancey in the North Carolina Senate in1829, and was chosen as speaker soon after. Having proved himself in the State Senate, Brown was chosen to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, replacing John Branch in 1829.
Brown’s ten-year tenure in the senate ended in 1840, when he and fellow Democrat Robert Strange resigned close to the end of their terms, eager to demonstrate their popularity through a quick re-election by an overwhelming majority of their constituents. Their plan failed and, after their humiliation, the Whig party took control of senate, Brown moved his family in 1842 to live out-of-state until returning to “Rose Hill” in 1855. Catching a second wind, Brown returned to politics with election to the State Senate in 1858, where he served the next three terms until 1864. In the fall of 1868, Brown was once again elected to State Senate, but partisan politics prevented his attendance. Brown was succeeded by John W. ‘Chicken’ Stevens, whose death was partly responsible for the 1870 Kirk-Holden War.
Known as an ardent unionist, Brown considered secession “the greatest political calamity that can befall the people of any nation.” Brown married Mary Glenn in 1816, and together they had seven children. On December 6, 1870, two years after his political career came to an end, planter, politician, and legislator Bedford Brown died at his home at “Rose Hill,” where he is buried.
Houston G. Jones, Bedford Brown: States Rights Unionist (1955)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 240-1 (1979)—sketch by H. G. Jones
William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, 1777-1977 (1979)
United States Senate Joint Committee on Reconstruction 1860, “North Carolina Majority Against Secession in 1860”: http://www.adena.com/adena/usa/cw/cw191.htm
Caswell County Historical Association, “Bedford Brown (1795-1870)”: