Henry B. Brown

Media Items
Personal Information
Born 
Wednesday, March 2, 1836
Died 
Thursday, September 4, 1913
Childhood Location 
Massachusetts
Childhood Surroundings 
Massachusetts
Position 
Associate Justice
Seat 
6
Nominated By 
Harrison
Commissioned on 
Monday, December 29, 1890
Sworn In 
Monday, January 5, 1891
Left Office 
Monday, May 28, 1906
Reason For Leaving 
Retired
Length of Service 
15 years, 4 months, 23 days
Home 
Michigan
Henry B. Brown
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Lewis Thomas Ives)
Biography 

Henry Billings Brown was born and raised in a small Massachusetts town. He led a privileged life, and was a good though undistinguished student. He avoided service in the Civil War by hiring a substitute, an accepted practice in his day.

Brown held several government positions at the federal and state levels. He was a well-regarded federal judge in Michigan when Howell Edmonds Jackson, a former senator and friend of President Harrison, urged Brown's move to the Supreme Court. Brown returned Jackson's favor by urging Harrison to "bring up" Jackson three years later.

Brown authored in excess of 450 majority opinions during his years on the Court. He gave preference to private property claims and he defended free competition. But Brown also took a broad view of the state's police powers including governmental restrictions on laissez faire.

Brown will probably be forever marked by a single opinion he authored for a majority: Plessy v. Ferguson. Brown no doubt reflected the view of his day that whites were biologically separate from blacks and that whites were superior to blacks as a group.

Clerkships 
Clerk Law Schoolsort icon Terms Clerked
A. B. Hall 1893, 1894, 1895

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Cite this Page
Henry B. Brown. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 24 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/henry_b_brown?order=field_education_value&sort=desc>.
Henry B. Brown, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/henry_b_brown?order=field_education_value&sort=desc (last visited June 24, 2014).
"Henry B. Brown," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 24, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/justices/henry_b_brown?order=field_education_value&sort=desc.