March 8: Aaron Venable Brown (1859)

Aaron V. Brown was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, one of eleven children of the Rev. Aaron Brown, a Methodist minister and his second wife, Elizabeth Melton. Brown attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 1814, the valedictorian of his class. After moving to Tennessee with his family, he studied law with a distinguished jurist in Nashville. He was admitted to the bar in 1816 and became a law partner with future president James K. Polk. Over the next two decades Brown would serve in both houses of the Tennessee legislature. In 1839, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served three terms. He supported the annexation of Texas in 1843.

Although Brown initially planned to return to private life after his third term in Congress, he begrudgingly accepted the Democratic nomination for Governor of Tennessee. He won by a razor thin margin. During his time as governor, Brown’s call for 2800 volunteer soldiers for the Mexican-American War yielded 30,000 responses, solidifying Tennessee’s reputation as the “Volunteer State.” Brown attended the 1856 Democratic National Convention where he was considered a possible vice presidential nominee. The following year, newly elected president James Buchanan appointed Brown to be Postmaster General. Three of the seven members of Buchanan’s cabinet were connected to Epiphany. Brown died while in office on March 8, 1859. His funeral was at Epiphany with his interment several days later in Nashville.

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