Our 20th Governor B. Gratz Brown is Born: May 28, 1826

B. Gratz Brown

Governor B. Gratz Brown was born on this date 1826. Like a lot of famous Missourians from this era, he was born in Kentucky (specifically in Lexington). Named Benjamin Gratz Brown, he was the son of a prominent family with a strong tradition in law and politics. Brown attended Transylvania University and later Yale College, where he cultivated his legal and political acumen. He moved to St. Louis in the early 1850s, where he established a successful law practice and became involved in state politics.

Brown’s political career began in earnest when he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1852. A staunch opponent of slavery, he became a leading voice for abolition in a state where the practice of slavery was legal. His commitment to the anti-slavery cause was evident when he co-founded the Republican Party in Missouri and edited the influential “Missouri Democrat” newspaper, which championed anti-slavery and progressive causes. Brown’s oratory skills and unwavering stance against slavery made him a prominent figure in the emerging Republican Party.

In 1863, Brown was elected as a U.S. Senator from Missouri, where he continued to advocate for civil rights and Reconstruction policies following the Civil War. His tenure in the Senate was marked by his support for the 14th and 15th Amendments, which aimed to secure citizenship and voting rights for Black Americans. Despite his achievements, Brown’s uncompromising nature sometimes put him at odds with more moderate members of his party.

Brown’s most notable political achievement came in 1870 when he was elected Governor of Missouri. As governor, he focused on modernizing the state’s infrastructure, promoting public education, and advancing civil rights. His administration worked to heal the divisions left by the Civil War and to promote economic development. In 1872, Brown was nominated for Vice President of the United States on the Liberal Republican ticket with Horace Greeley, though they were ultimately unsuccessful in the general election.

After his term as governor, Brown retired from active politics but remained an influential figure in Missouri and national politics. He continued to advocate for progressive causes until his death on December 13, 1885. B. Gratz Brown’s legacy is that of a courageous leader who championed civil rights and progressive reforms during a turbulent period in American history.