George William Brown

George William Brown

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George William Brown was the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland from 1860 to 1861.

Pratt Street Riot


Brown played an important role in controlling the Pratt Street Riot on April 19, 1861, at the onset of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. After the Pratt Street Riot, some small skirmishes occurred throughout Baltimore between citizens and police for the next month. However, in short time, a sense of normalcy returned to the city. Still, Mayor Brown and Maryland Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks
Thomas Holliday Hicks
Thomas Holliday Hicks was an American politician from Maryland. He served as the 31st Governor of Maryland from 1858 until 1862, and as a U.S...

 implored President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 to reroute Union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 troops around Baltimore city and through Annapolis to avoid further confrontations.

On the evening of April 20, 1861, one day after the Pratt Street Riot, Governor Hicks authorized Mayor Brown to dispatch the Maryland state militia for the purpose of disabling the railroad bridges into the city. This was an act Hicks would later deny. One month later, a Maryland militia captain, John Merryman
John Merryman
John Merryman was the petitioner in one of the best known habeas corpus cases of the American Civil War, a militia officer during the Civil War, and a Maryland politician.-Early life:...

, was arrested without a writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

. This arrest sparked the case of Ex parte Merryman
Ex parte Merryman
Ex parte Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 , is a well-known U.S. federal court case which arose out of the American Civil War. It was a test of the authority of the President to suspend "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus"...

.

President Lincoln agreed to reroute Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 troops through Annapolis. The Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 capital city was a Southern Democratic
Southern Democrats
Southern Democrats are members of the U.S. Democratic Party who reside in the American South. In the 19th century, they were the definitive pro-slavery wing of the party, opposed to both the anti-slavery Republicans and the more liberal Northern Democrats.Eventually "Redemption" was finalized in...

 town and full of secessionists, but it was still safer than Baltimore. However, once enough Union troops had made it to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and the national capital city was well defended, Lincoln resolved to end the problems in Baltimore.

Imprisonment


On May 13, 1861, the Union army entered Baltimore, occupied the city, and declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

. Mayor Brown, the city council, and the police commissioner, who were all pro-Confederate, were arrested and imprisoned at Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay...

 for the balance of the war. Francis Key Howard
Francis Key Howard
Francis Key Howard was the grandson of Francis Scott Key and Revolutionary War colonel John Eager Howard. Howard was the editor of the Baltimore Exchange, a Baltimore newspaper sympathetic to the Southern cause. He was arrested on September 13, 1861 by U.S. major general Nathaniel Prentice Banks...

, the grandson of Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

 was also made a prisoner.

Later life


Almost three years before he died, Brown wrote his memoir. In it. he was referred to Quaker Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins was a wealthy American entrepreneur, philanthropist and abolitionist of 19th-century Baltimore, Maryland, now most noted for his philanthropic creation of the institutions that bear his name, namely the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Johns Hopkins University and its associated...

 as a "wealthy Union man" and as a member of a committee of bankers who gave $500,000 to the city of Baltimore after the first bloodshed in the Civil War was shed there. Hopkins selected Brown as one of the trustees of the university (but not of the hospital) who would oversee the construction and founding of the institutions now known as the Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 and Johns Hopkins Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, located in Baltimore, Maryland . It was founded using money from a bequest by philanthropist Johns Hopkins...

.

See also


  • Baltimore Plot
    Baltimore Plot
    The Baltimore Plot was an alleged conspiracy in late February 1861 to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln en route to his inauguration. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, played a key role by managing Lincoln's security throughout the journey...

  • United States presidential election, 1860
    United States presidential election, 1860
    The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

  • Thomas Holliday Hicks
    Thomas Holliday Hicks
    Thomas Holliday Hicks was an American politician from Maryland. He served as the 31st Governor of Maryland from 1858 until 1862, and as a U.S...

  • John Merryman
    John Merryman
    John Merryman was the petitioner in one of the best known habeas corpus cases of the American Civil War, a militia officer during the Civil War, and a Maryland politician.-Early life:...

  • Ex parte Merryman
    Ex parte Merryman
    Ex parte Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 , is a well-known U.S. federal court case which arose out of the American Civil War. It was a test of the authority of the President to suspend "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus"...

  • Maryland, My Maryland
    Maryland, My Maryland
    "Maryland, My Maryland" is the official state song of the U.S. state of Maryland. The song is set to the tune of "Lauriger Horatius" and the lyrics are from a nine-stanza poem written by James Ryder Randall...

  • Henry Stump
    Henry Stump
    Henry Stump served as Judge of the Criminal Court, 5th Judicial Circuit in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, from 1851 to 1860, one of the most lawless and politically violent decades in Baltimore history. He presided over the infamous trial of Plug-Ugly Henry Gambrill for the murder of a...