George William Brown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

George William Brown was the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland from 1860 to 1861.

Pratt Street Riot[edit]

Brown played an important role in controlling the Pratt Street Riot on April 19, 1861, at the onset of the American Civil War. After the Pratt Street Riot, some small skirmishes occurred throughout Baltimore between citizens and police for the next month. However, in short time, a sense of normalcy returned to the city. Still, Mayor Brown and Maryland Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks implored President Abraham Lincoln to reroute Union troops around Baltimore city and through Annapolis to avoid further confrontations.

On the evening of April 20, 1861, one day after the Pratt Street Riot, Governor Hicks authorized Mayor Brown to dispatch the Maryland state militia for the purpose of disabling the railroad bridges into the city. This was an act Hicks would later deny. One month later, a Maryland militia captain, John Merryman, was arrested without a writ of habeas corpus. This arrest sparked the case of Ex parte Merryman.

President Lincoln agreed to reroute Union troops through Annapolis. The Maryland capital city was a Southern Democratic town and full of secessionists, but it was still safer than Baltimore. However, once enough Union troops had made it to Washington, D.C., and the national capital city was well defended, Lincoln resolved to end the problems in Baltimore.


On May 13, 1861, the Union army entered Baltimore, occupied the city, and declared martial law. Mayor Brown, the city council, and the police commissioner, who were all pro-Confederate, were arrested and imprisoned at Fort McHenry for the balance of the war. Francis Key Howard, the grandson of Francis Scott Key was also made a prisoner.

Later life[edit]

Almost three years before he died, Brown wrote his memoir. In it, he referred to Quaker Johns Hopkins as a "wealthy Union man" and a member of a committee of bankers who gave $500,000 to the city of Baltimore after the first blood in the Civil War was shed there. Hopkins selected Brown as one of the trustees of the university (but not of the hospital) who would oversee the construction and founding of the institutions now known as the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

See also[edit]


Brown, G. W. (1887). Baltimore and the nineteenth of April 1861; a study of the war. Johns Hopkins University studies in historical and political science, extra vol. 3. Baltimore, N. Murray.

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Swann
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
John C. Blackburn