Skip Navigation

First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: John J. Brown


Wheeling Intelligencer
July 24, 1863

SENATE

Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.

BY AN OBSERVER

JOHN J. BROWN.

MR. BROWN is a resident of Kingwood, Preston County, and is one of the Senators representing the district of Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor, he and Mr. Bunker being elected over Messrs Dering and Sinsel. He was born where he now resides, in November, 1825. At the age of 15 he entered the Monongalia Academy at Morgantown, where he remained about three years, when he entered the junior class at Washington College, Washington, Penn., then under the Presidency of Rev. Dr. McConaughy, and graduated at that Institution in the year 1845, at the age of 20.

Returning home, he became a law student in the office of his uncle, Hon. William G. Brown, and during the time of his apprenticeship at the law, acted as deputy Clerk in the County Clerk’s office of his county, a position well calculated to aid him in the practical part of his studies.

In due time he obtained the autograph of three judges – Fry, Lee and McComas, and stuck out his shingle in partnership with his uncle. That partnership still exists, and has won a reputation second to few in the State, and which is owing perhaps, not more to the legal knowledge and experience of the uncle, than to the industry, activity and ability of the nephew.

Mr. Brown’s grand-father and grand-mother came from the old country just after the Revolutionary war, and settled in Monongalia ( now Preston ) county; the former was one of the

“Scots who ha’ wi’ Wallace bled,”

and the latter was a pearl from the “Gem of the Ocean,” the Emerald Isle.

Mr. Brown has been a democrat ever since his eyes were greeted by the light – voted for Cass in 1848, and Pierce in 1852, Buchanan 1856, and Breckinridge in 1860, which is undoubtedly a strong democratic record – a little too strong. Mr. Brown thinks, for he very much regrets the last vote. Like a great many others (the writer voted for John Bell, Mr. Brown take courage!) he was deceived, but has learned a valuable lesson in politics. He had not been initiated into the order of the “K. G. C’s.”

He declared his opposition to the ordinance of secession, took the stump against it, and labored with all his power until the day of election to defeat it, and had the satisfaction of seeing Preston county vote about as follows: For secession 63; against it 2,200. He was a candidate for the Legislature in the spring of 1861, but declined, principally for the reason that he did not care about going to Richmond to represent his constituents among traitors; was elected to the June Convention of 1861, which restored the State Government; was a member of the late Constitutional convention, of which he was one of the best members, approved its Constitution and labored for its adoption. He opposed the Battelle resolutions, believing that time would eradicate the institution of slavery, and voted with all the members for the clause prohibiting slaves from coming into the State; found that the salvation of West Virginia depended upon the admission of the New State; and willing to sacrifice all personal feelings for that, be, at the re-assembled session of the Convention, voted for gradual emancipation, and urged it before the people.

Mr. Brown is a member of the M. E. Church, and is exemplary in his conduct, temperate in his habits in all things, and is a model worthy of imitation. He believes that the rebellion is but the dealings of the Great Ruler to bring in, very speedily, in power and great glory, the everlasting Kingdom of Christ. Mr. Brown’s personal appearance is striking, but not particularly handsome; face sharp and long, eyes bluish gray, bright, clear and full; forehead high and broad; eyebrows heavy; nose long and sharp; mouth large; chin small; wears short whiskers, dark, but considerably tinged with gray; hair dark brown, and quite think. – He speaks not very often, but very well and very short. He is one of the most pointed and logical debaters in the Senate; does not say a word too much or too little, and nothing that is not right to the point; his questions are natural and forceful and his enunciations is exceedingly clear and striking’ when he speaks his head always inclines to the left, either from habit or as the result of earnestness.

Mr. Brown is Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Claims, and is a member of the Committee on Courts of Justice and General Laws, and other important committees. He writes with rapidity and great beauty.

Mr. Brown has a handsome wife and three children, which he, unlike most parents, considers as models of beauty and grace.


Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History