Jacob Jennings Brown was born 9 May 1775 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and died on 24 February 1828 in Washington, D.C.. He was a American Army Officer during the War of 1812
Brown, Jacob Jennings
9 May 1775
Bucks County, Pennsylvania
24 February 1828
Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Jacob Jennings Brown was the son of Samuel and Abi (White) Brown. His middle name was given to him in honor of his paternal grandmother who was a descendant of Samuel Jennings, the latter having been a deputy governor of West Jersey and later receiver general of Pennsylvania in the early 18th century.
Raised a Quaker, Brown graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1790. He taught school and in 1798 moved to upstate New York. There he was a pioneer settler and landowner in the Black River country and helped open the area up for further settlement. He and his extended family established mills and a store, laid out roads and improved navigation on the lower Black River. In December 1802, he married Pamela Williams, then seventeen, the lovely sister of a close friend. They eventually had four sons (Gouverneur, Jacob, William and Nathan) and five daughters (Mary, Eliza, Pamela, Margaret and Katherine).
One biographer claimed that Brown received his earliest military training when he was a military secretary to Alexander Hamilton during the winter of 1798-99, while Hamilton was organizing the U.S. Army for possible war with France. However, Hamilton's biographies state he did not have a secretary. Biographical sketches of Brown published in 1815 do not mention a connection between him and Hamilton.
In 1807, as one of the leading citizens of his county, Brown was commissioned as a captain in the 108th regiment of the New York Militia. Two years later, he was promoted to colonel. His initial commission was the result of regional political connections. However, his promotion to higher rank appears to have resulted from his aversion to frequent and expensive military parades in times of peace. On the frontier, it was time-consuming and expensive for scattered members of the militia to assemble for drill or other activities when they had farming and other occupations that demanded their time.
When the War of 1812 began, Brown was a brigadier general in the New York militia, having been appointed to that rank in 1811. Though he opposed the war, he organized the defenses in the Great Lakes region. Troops led by Brown defeated the British at the Battle of Sackett's Harbor on May 29, 1813. As a result of his actions there, he was given a commission as a brigadier general in the regular army. The next year his army captured Fort Erie in Ontario. He was wounded twice at the Battle of Lundy's Lane, one of the bloodiest engagements of the war for both sides. His last battle of the war was the Siege of Fort Erie in 1814, which resulted in an American victory. His successes, in what was the northwest U.S. at that time, made him a national hero. To express its appreciation, Congress authorized the award to Brown of a Congressional Gold Medal on November 3, 1814. General Brown was the 24th American to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
After the war, the U.S. Army was reduced in size. By 1821, he was the only major general in the service and President James Monroe made him commanding general. Despite a stroke he suffered in 1821, he functioned well in his new post. He reorganized the army staff into the form it retained for the rest of the century. He advised the secretaries of war and the presidents on military policy. He also pushed for the establishment of two post-graduate schools for the military, the precursors of present day staff and command colleges. Another first was his creation in 1822 of the General Recruiting Service as the first organisation responsible for providing manpower for the Army.
General Brown died on 24 February 1828 in Washington, D.C., while on active duty, and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
General Brown was so well respected that when he died, and his casket was carried down Pennsylvania Avenue on the shoulders of a detachment of U.S. Marines, the entire government shut down for the funeral. His mile-long funeral procession was composed of family, military detachments and government officials. Then President John Quincy Adams said of him:
General Brown was one of the eminent men of this age and nation. Through bred a Quaker, he was a man of lofty and martial spirit, and in the late war contributed perhaps more than any man to redeem and establish the military character of his country.