Francis Shunk Brown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Francis Shunk Brown
Francis Shunk Brown.jpg
Pennsylvania Attorney General
In office
January 19, 1915 – January 21, 1919
Preceded by John C. Bell
Succeeded by William I. Schaffer
Personal details
Born (1858-06-09)June 9, 1858[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[1]
Died May 6, 1940(1940-05-06) (aged 81)[2]
Overbrook, Pennsylvania[2]
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Hamm
Children 2

Francis Shunk Brown (June 9, 1858–May 6, 1940) was a distinguished Pennsylvania lawyer who served a term as state Attorney General.


Brown's father was Charles Brown, who had served two terms in Congress as a Pennsylvania representative before Brown was even born. Brown's mother was Elizabeth Shunk. Her father was former state governor Francis R. Shunk and her maternal grandfather was former state governor William Findlay.

Biography and career[edit]

The family moved to Delaware when Brown was still very young. Brown attended schools in Philadelphia and Delaware. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1879. He was admitted to the bar immediately.[1][2]

In 1883, he married Elizabeth Hamm. They had two children, one son and one daughter. The son, Francis Shunk Brown, Jr., would serve as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

His clients included many Pennsylvania politicians Israel Wilson Durham, Boies Penrose, and the Vare Brothers.[2]

In 1915, he was appointed state Attorney General. After completing his term, he returned to private practice.

1930 Republican primary for governor[edit]

In 1930, he was persuaded by state Republican party leaders to run in the primary against former state governor Gifford Pinchot. Ending Prohibition was the dominant issue, and in public Brown took a lukewarm position, favoring a state referendum. In private, he supported repeal. One minor contender, Thomas Wharton Phillips, Jr. was openly wet. Pinchot was a dry who in his previous term as governor did almost nothing to enforce Prohibition, and so ended up attracting strong wet support against Brown and Phillips, winning the primary by 20,000 votes over Brown, and later the state election.[3]

During the primary, Brown (but not Pinchot or Phillips or Joseph R. Grundy) declined to take part in an open discussion about Republican issues sponsored by the Pennsylvania League of Woman Voters, because they invited Joseph D. Herben, a Negro candidate: "I refuse to discuss state politics on the same platform with a Negro."[4]


Brown was a keen yachtsman, and served as commodore of the Philadelphia Yacht Club. He owned and part-time worked a farm on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. He once owned a camp along Lake Placid.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Smull's Legislative Hand Book and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania. p. 278. 
  2. ^ a b c d "F. S. Brown dead; noted lawyer, 82". New York Times. 1940-05-07. p. 35. 
  3. ^ Carlisle Bargeron (1930-10-30). "Pennsylvania is in Turmoil over Pinchot". Washington Post. p. 1. 
  4. ^ "Pa. Candidate Balks at Negro Opponent". Baltimore Afro-American. 1930-04-19. p. A1. 
  5. ^ "Francis S. Brown dead, was early Placid camper". Lake Placid news. May 10, 1940. p. 2. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
John C. Bell
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Succeeded by
William I. Schaffer