Bedford Brown (June 6, 1795 - December 6, 1870) was an American lawyer and planter from Yanceyville in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served in the North Carolina Senate and United States Senator from the State of North Carolina between 1829 and 1840.
Brown was born June 6, 1795 in what now is Locust Hill Township, Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of Jethro Brown and Lucy Williamson Brown. After attending the University of North Carolina for one year, Brown was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons. In 1828, upon the death of Bartlett Yancey, Jr., Brown was chosen in a special election to replace Yancey in the North Carolina Senate. Like Bartlett Yancey, Jr., before him, Brown was elected Speaker of the North Carolina Senate.
In 1829, he was elected as a Jacksonian (the party that would become the Democratic Party) to succeed John Branch as a United States Senator from North Carolina. In the Senate, he chaired several committees, including the Agriculture Committee. Brown resigned his seat in 1840 due to a dispute with the state legislature. He was elected to the state Senate again in 1842, before spending some years out of the state.
Leading up to the Civil War, Brown, a state senator again from 1858-1860, counselled in favor of North Carolina's remaining in the Union. However, after President Lincoln requested troops from North Carolina to serve in the Union Army, Brown, along with most of his colleagues, supported secession.
In 1868 Brown, still a Democrat, was again elected to the North Carolina Senate. However, the Reconstruction Republicans controlled the North Carolina Legislature and refused to seat Brown. He was replaced by Republican John W. Stephens. For more on John W. Stephens, including his murder in Yanceyville, North Carolina, by the Ku Klux Klan and the resulting Kirk-Holden war, go to the Caswell County Historical Association.
On July 13, 1816, Brown married Mary Lumpkin Glenn. They had seven children: William Livingston, Bedford, Jr., Wilson Glenn, Isabella Virginia, Laura, and Rosalie. Brown was buried on the grounds at Rose Hill just outside Yanceyville, North Carolina.
The accompanying photograph (carte-de-visite) by famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady probably was made when Bedford Brown was in Washington, D.C., as commissioner seeking readmission of North Carolina into the Union after the Civil War. As a pre-war Unionist, Brown was one of only a few Southern politicians for whom Brady had enough sympathy to grant the favor of a sitting. Note that images of Senator Bedford Brown often are confused with those of his son, Dr. Bedford Brown, M.D. Even the Library of Congress uses an incorrect photograph in its Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, William S. Powell, Ed. (1979) at 240-241 (Article by H. G. Jones)
- Bedford Brown: States Rights Unionist, Houston G. Jones (1955)