George Brown

views updated Jun 11 2018

George Brown

George Brown (1818-1880) was a Canadian politician and newspaper editor who stood for the principle of majority rule, favored expansion into the West, and gave powerful support to the movement for the federation of British North America.

George Brown was born in Alloa near Edinburgh, Scotland, on Nov. 20, 1818. Educated in Edinburgh, he emigrated to the United States with his father at the age of 20 and settled in New York. There the Browns began a newspaper, the British Chronicle. Not finding life in New York to their liking, they moved in 1843 to Toronto, Canada, where they established a Presbyterian newspaper, the Banner.

A year later the younger Brown founded the Globe, a political journal designed to appeal to the residents of Toronto and the Protestant rural area in the western part of the province. In this newspaper Brown began to expound the views that made him a power in politics: dissatisfaction with the system of equal representation in the legislature for the French-and English-speaking parts of the province and the favoring of its replacement by "representation by population" ("rep. by pop."), which would ensure an English-speaking majority. He also thundered against the dominant influence which he felt was exercised by French-Canadians in the Conservative ministries of John Macdonald, and he criticized the power of the Roman Catholic Church in political affairs.

In Canada West, Brown was particularly concerned about the attempt to establish separate Roman Catholic schools with state support. Brown also urged the annexation of the Hudson's Bay Company territories to Canada, regarding them as a new agricultural frontier for the province and hoping to see Toronto outbid Montreal to become the commercial center for the West. His attitudes coincided with those of the Reform, or "Grit," party in Canada West, and Brown slipped naturally into a position of leadership in the party. The Globe took over other Reform papers and soon became the official organ of the movement. It eventually became a daily, very widely read throughout Canada West. No editor or newspaper has since possessed the influence in central Canada which was wielded by Brown and the Globe.

Brown entered politics in 1851, being elected as a Reform candidate for the county of Kent, Canada West. In the legislature he soon made his mark as a critic and formidable debater, but his views about French-speaking Canadians made for an uneasy relationship with the reformers of Canada East, the Rouges. In 1858 there was a short-lived attempt to construct a Reform ministry headed by Brown and A.-A. Dorion, but the new administration could not win the confidence of the House. The next year Brown and the Reform party adopted the goal of a federal union for the two Canadas, leaving each part free to manage its local affairs.

In June 1864 the increasing political difficulties and frustrations of the early 1860s finally led to the creation of a coalition ministry to carry forward the plan of the union of all the British North American colonies. Brown's adherence was critical to the purpose of the new government, and there was much satisfaction when he swallowed his personal dislike of the Conservative leader, Macdonald, and joined the coalition. Throughout 1865 Brown worked for the cause of federation, resigning from the ministry at the end of the year, when he found he could no longer work with Macdonald and his Conservative colleagues. The break did not interrupt Brown's powerful support, on the platform and through the pages of the Globe, for the realization of a federal union in British America.

The first election after the formation of the Dominion of Canada, in July 1867, saw the Conservatives under Macdonald installed as the national government. Brown was defeated in this election, although he continued to play an active role in Ontario provincial politics. In 1873, with the accession to power of the Reformers, or Liberals as they were now beginning to be called, Brown was named to the Senate of Canada. Although relatively inactive in the upper house, he exerted a strong influence over the new Liberal prime minister, Alexander Mackenzie, who had been his protégé. In 1874 Brown was sent to Washington to negotiate a new reciprocity treaty with the United States, but the agreement was turned down by the U.S. Senate.

Brown's last years saw him much involved in the management of his newspaper, now a large enterprise. His life ended tragically when he was shot and fatally wounded by a disgruntled employee whom he had recently discharged. Brown died on May 9, 1880.

Further Reading

The official biography of Brown, published shortly after his death, is Alexander Mackenzie, The Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown (1882). The modern biography is J. M. S. Careless, Brown of the Globe (2 vols., 1959-1963). Brown is discussed by a fellow journalist, Sir J. S. Willison, in Reminiscences, Political and Personal (1919). A good background study of the period is Edgar Wardwell McInnis, Canada: A Political and Social History (1947; rev. ed. 1959). □

Brown, George

views updated May 23 2018


First Anglican archbishop of Dublin; b. England?, c. 1500; d. Dublin, c. 1559. Little is known of his life before 1532. As prior of the London Austin friars, Brown (Browne) leased property to Thomas cromwell on May 16, 1532. He was appointed provincial by Henry VIII after the breach with Rome and acted for Cromwell as one of the visitors general of all the mendicants. In 1534 Oxford awarded him the degree doctor simpliciter. After the Geraldine revolt (1534) against the new English policy and the reconquest of the Dublin area by the king's viceroys, William Skeffington and Leonard Gray, he assisted in securing the enactment by the Irish Parliament of Reformation legislation and successfully imposed on Ireland an external acquiescence to royal supremacy and the exclusion of papal jurisdiction. After the killing of Abp. John Allen of Dublin by the Irish, Brown was elected by royal direction and consecrated by Abp. Thomas Cranmer (1536). Under Edward VI he reluctantly accepted Protestantism, and he secured the primacy from Armagh when George dowdall abandoned the temporalities of his see rather than substitute the communion service in the Book of common prayer for the Mass. Under Queen Mary I, Brown was deprived of his see for contracting marriage; the primacy was restored to Armagh, and Hugh Curwen was appointed archbishop of Dublin. After evidence was offered in his behalf that he had been hostile to the Edwardian changes in Eucharistic doctrines, and after his marriage was declared invalid, Cardinal Reginald pole, as papal legate, rehabilitated Brown and dispensed him so that he could hold a benefice in the diocese.

The weakness of English power in Ireland necessitated political compromises in the Reformation even under Henry VIII. The Irish reaction to the destruction of venerated shrines and monasteries deprived Brown of any chance of permanent achievement. He was reproved personally by Henry VIII for slowness in forwarding the royal supremacy. He quarreled with the only other Reform bishop, Edward Staples of Meath, and received little support from secular authorities against the general passive resistance of the people. Later, John Bale, Protestant bishop of Ossory under Edward VI, called Brown apathetic. While prepared to use the Eucharistic controversy to defeat secular opponents, he himself was accused of opposing those who preached against transubstantiation. He attempted to save his cathedrals from secularization by advocating the foundation of a royal university.

Bibliography: r. d. edwards, Church and State in Tudor Ireland (New York 1935). g. v. jourdan, "The Breach with Rome, 15091541," in History of the Church of Ireland, ed. w. a. phillips, 3 v. (New York 1933) 2:169227; "Reformation and Reaction, 15411558," ibid. 228291. h. j. lawlor, The Fasti of St. Patrick's, Dublin (Dundalk 1930). m. v. ronan, Reformation in Dublin 15361558 (New York 1926). f. roth, History of English Austin Friars, 12491538, 2 v. (New York 1961). r. w. dixon, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 3:4345.

[r. d. edwards]

Brown, George

views updated May 11 2018

Brown, George (1918–1978), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1974–78.George Brown served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for five years: one year as air force chief of staff (1973–74), and four years as chairman. Although General Brown fought in three wars and served with distinction in high‐level positions in the Pentagon, he is best known for a series of myopic and offensive public remarks made during his tenure as chairman. Brown complained about Israel's undue influence on Congress, and ascribed that influence to the “fact” that the Jewish people in the United States control the banks and newspapers. He also said that the American commitment to Israel was a burden on the United States, and vigorously defended the right of the government to spy on American citizens in order to protect national security. Normally, such statements by a high government official would have resulted in dismissal by the president.

Brown was not relieved by either President Ford or Carter simply because he was too valuable as chairman of the JCS. Brown's value came from three sources. First, he was a superb military strategist with great expertise on the complex issues involved in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union. Second, Brown held a balanced analytical view of the military situation between the United States and the USSR. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he was inclined neither to overstate the Soviet military threat nor to understate America's military capabilities. Third, Brown was held in high regard by his military colleagues for his honesty and expertise. He was also highly regarded for helping the U.S. military adjust to the post‐Vietnam draw down.


Lawrence Korb , The Joint Chiefs of Staff: The First Twenty‐Five Years. 1976.
Lawrence Korb , The Fall and Rise of the Pentagon, 1979.

Lawrence Korb

Brown, George

views updated May 29 2018

Brown, George (1914–85). Brown was one of the Labour Party's most colourful characters, becoming deputy leader (1960–70) and foreign secretary (1966–8). He entered Parliament in 1945 and occupied several minor government positions under Attlee. Defeated by Harold Wilson for the leadership of the party in 1963, he was both first secretary of state and secretary of state for economic affairs in Wilson's first government (1964–6). He lost his seat at the general election of 1970 and was made Lord George-Brown the same year. Notorious for his drinking and his social gaffes, he acquired a certain personal popularity. But in office he proved an outstanding failure, helping to discredit the concept of detailed economic management. His eventual resignation in 1968 confirmed his political irrelevance.

Andrew Sanders

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