He was Georgia’s Civil War governor who opposed almost every Confederate policy.
Joseph Emerson Brown was born in South Carolina in 1821 and was raised in north Georgia. He rode a successful legal career all the way to the governorship in 1859.
Brown championed the common man and for the rest of his life he was unbeatable in statewide elections. During the war, Brown strongly opposed the centralized power of the Confederacy, and became an ardent foe of anything Jefferson Davis supported, particularly the Confederate draft.
Brown thought Davis was a tyrant and other governors followed his lead, ultimately damaging the Confederate war effort.
After the war, Brown switched parties and served as a Republican Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. After Reconstruction, he went back to the Democrats and served 10 years in the U.S. Senate. Brown forged a political alliance with John B. Gordon and Alfred Colquitt known as the Bourbon Triumvirate that controlled Georgia for the rest of the century.
One of the most successful and independent Georgia politicians ever died in Atlanta on November 30, 1894, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.