AARON VENABLE BROWN was born in Brunswick County, Virginia. After attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he read law in Nashville and was admitted to the Bar in 1817. He was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 1821 and served all but one term until 1829. In 1831 he was elected to the Tennessee House, and in 1839 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After resigning from Congress in 1845, he learned while on his way home from Washington, DC that he had been nominated for governor by the Democratic Party. Though a reluctant candidate, he went on to narrowly defeat his Whig opponent. During his gubernatorial administration, several railroads were chartered, improvements were made to state mental and penal institutions, and a number of male and female academies were incorporated. Brown was defeated for reelection to a second term, after which he served as a member of the Southern Convention that met in Nashville and co-authored the “Tennessee Platform,” which opposed the compromise on the slavery question pending in Congress. At the Democratic National Convention in 1856, he received twenty-nine votes as a vice-presidential candidate. He was later appointed Postmaster General under President James Buchanan. He died in Washington, DC and was buried in Nashville.
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Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
White, Robert H. Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, 1845-1857. Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Commission, Vol. 4, 1952.
Great grandson of Tennessee Governor Harry Hill McAlister