Thomas Brown, born October 24, 1785, in Westmoreland County, Virginia to William and Margaret Brown. Westmoreland County was also the home to both George Washington and James Monroe.

 During the War of 1812, Brown was an aid to General John P. Hungerford. After he completed his service, the returned to Richmond, Virginia where he became the chief clerk for the post office. While serving as the chief clerk, he invented the post office letterbox.

Brown’s political career started in 1817 when the became a member of the Virginia Legislature, and remained there until 1828. While in the Virginia Legislature he married Elizabeth Simpson, and together they had seven children.

In 1828, he moved his family to the Florida territory and continued his career in public service.  He was a member of the Whig party and served as president of the legislative council in 1838 and a member of the constitutional convention in 1839. After Florida achieve statehood in 1845, he became a member of the first Florida House of Representatives and held the position until 1849.

On October 1, 1849, Brown was sworn in as Florida’s second Governor and served until October 3, 1853. During his tenure, he tried to improve Florida’s transportation system and continually complained about Florida’s slow progress on education. On January 6, 1853, he signed a bill that provided public support to higher education.

One of the first schools to utilize the funding was East Florida Seminary in Ocala but later closed due to the Civil War. Reopening in 1866, this time in Gainesville, you can trace the University of Florida’s history to EFS.

Inspired by the rich muck lands around Lake Okeechobee, Brown encouraged cattlemen and farmers to enter the region. From his order, they were protected by the Florida militia. With respect to the Everglades, he made an effort to determine whether they should be drained or not. While Brown was Governor, Fort Myers was developed into a full-size village.

Prior to his governorship, in 1834, Brown built a hotel called Brown’s Inn in Tallahassee. It was located on the west side of Adams Street, between Pensacola and Lafayette streets. Known as the City Hotel in 1839, and the Adelphi in 1840, and later as the Morgan Hotel. In 1886, it was destroyed by fire.

He was an active Mason for more than 60 years and served a long term as a secretary in the Tallahassee lodge. It was then that he compiled a book on Masonry. Governor Brown died in Tallahassee on August 24, 1867, at the age of 81.

Unknow author – Florida Photographic Collection

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