Earl L. Brewer

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Earl Leroy Brewer
Earl Leroy Brewer.jpg
38th Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 16, 1912 – January 18, 1916
Lieutenant Theodore G. Bilbo
Preceded by Edmond Noel
Succeeded by Theodore G. Bilbo
Member of the Mississippi Senate
In office
Personal details
Born (1869-08-11)August 11, 1869
near Vaiden, Mississippi
Died March 10, 1942(1942-03-10) (aged 72)
Jackson, Mississippi
Resting place Oakridge Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Minnie Marion Block
Profession Lawyer

Earl Leroy Brewer (August 11, 1869 – March 10, 1942) was the Governor of Mississippi from 1912 to 1916. Elected as a Democrat, he was unopposed in the primary and won the governorship without ever making a single public campaign speech.


Brewer was born in Carroll County, Mississippi, near the town of Vaiden. His father, Ratliff Rodney Brewer, had been a farmer, plantation manager and overseer, and a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. His middle name came from his grandfather, Leroy Brewer (1793–1851), a Mississippi Delta pioneer who migrated from Georgia during the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. His uncle Leroy Jasper Brewer (1833–1911), who was mayor of Holcomb at the time of Earl's gubernatorial election, died just weeks before his nephew's inauguration.

Brewer attended the University of Mississippi and after less than one year of study, obtained a Bachelor of Law degree in 1892. He immediately began practicing law (among his notable clients was Janie Jones, the widow of famed railroader Casey Jones, for whom he obtained a $2,650 settlement after Jones' death[1]) and then was elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1895. In 1902 he was appointed district attorney for the 11th District.

In 1907 he resigned his position as district attorney in order to run for governor. Brewer was narrowly defeated in his first attempt but won handily in the next campaign. As governor, Brewer promoted progressive reforms in several areas. The constitution was changed to create an elective judiciary; banking laws were established to limit interest rates; and a Bureau of Vital Statistics was created.

During his term there was a severe epidemic of pellagra in the state and other portions of the South. When the federal government sent Joseph Goldberger to study the disease and find a cure, Brewer offered full pardons to convicts who would participate in Goldberger's experiments. As a result of these studies, it was determined that pellagra was caused by a vitamin deficiency.

After his term was over, Brewer assisted in the defense of three Black defendants accused of murder who had been convicted on the basis of coerced confessions. Brewer argued and won their appeal to the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Mississippi.

Brewer later ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1924.

Brewer died in Jackson and is buried at Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale.


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Political offices
Preceded by
Edmond Noel
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Theodore G. Bilbo