Brown, Benjamin Gratz, 1826-85, U.S. Senator (1863-67) and governor of Missouri (1871-73), b. Lexington, Ky. An able lawyer in St. Louis, Brown was a leader in the Free-Soil movement in Missouri and later helped form the Republican party there. In the memorable Missouri election of 1870, Brown and his supporters defeated the radical Republicans, and he thus became prominent in the rise of the national Liberal Republican party. He was the party's candidate for Vice President on the unsuccessful ticket headed by Horace Greeley in 1872. He later became a Democrat.

See biography by N. L. Peterson (1965).

Brown, Capability (Lancelot Brown), 1715-83, English landscape gardener, b. Kirkharle, Northumberland. The leading landscape gardener of his time, he is known for designing gardens that broke with the French formal tradition. He favored a distinctively English style of grandly picturesque, natural-appearing, and asymmetrically structured landscapes replete with groves of trees, expansive lawns, meandering streams, and sylvan lakes. Brown began as a young gardener to the gentry and, working at the famous gardens at Stowe during the 1740s, became a disciple of William Kent. In 1749 he became a consulting gardener and earned his nickname by often telling clients that their properties had "capabilities." Brown created many of the most important gardens of the 18th cent., including those at Petworth House, Kew, Blenheim Palace, Ashburnham Place, and Warwick Castle. He also designed several country houses.
Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810, American novelist and editor, b. Philadelphia, considered the first professional American novelist. After the publication of Alcuin: A Dialogue (1798), he wrote such novels as Edgar Huntly (1799), Arthur Mervyn (2 vol., 1799-1800), and Ormond (1799), in which he presented arguments for social reform. Wieland (1799) was by far his most popular work and foreshadowed the psychological novel. To support himself after 1800 he became a merchant but also edited successively three periodicals, wrote political pamphlets, and projected a compendium on geography.

See B. Rosenthal, ed., Critical Essays on Charles Brockden (1981); A. Axelrod, Charles Brockden Brown: An American Tale (1983).

Brown, Elmer Ellsworth, 1861-1934, American educator, b. Chautauqua co., N.Y., grad. Illinois State Normal Univ., 1881, and studied at the Univ. of Michigan and in Germany. He taught education at the Univ. of Michigan (1891-93) and at the Univ. of California (1893-1906). After directing the reorganization of the Bureau of Education as U.S. commissioner of education (1906-11), he became chancellor of New York Univ., retiring in 1933. He wrote The Making of Our Middle Schools (1903) and A Few Remarks (1933).
Brown, Ford Madox, 1821-93, English historical painter, b. Calais, France. Although closely affiliated with the Pre-Raphaelites in London, he never joined the brotherhood. Examples of his paintings are Work (1852-63; Manchester Art Gall.); The Last of England (1855; Birmingham Gall.); and his series of 12 frescoes in the town hall of Manchester, depicting the history of that city. He was the grandfather of Ford Madox Ford.
Brown, George, 1818-80, Canadian statesman and journalist, b. Scotland. In 1837 he emigrated to the United States, but after five years in New York City, he settled in Toronto, Ont. There he founded (1844) the Toronto Globe, which under his editorship became the most powerful political journal in Upper Canada. He wholeheartedly supported Robert Baldwin and the movement for responsible government. Elected in 1851 as a Reform member of the Canadian legislative assembly, Brown in time became leader of the "Clear Grits" faction, which opposed the influence of the French Canadians in the assembly. He urged the secularization of the Clergy Reserves (lands reserved for the Protestant churches), a national school system, the purchase of the Northwest Territories, and representation by population instead of the equal representation for Quebec and Ontario as established by the Act of Union (1840). Brown played an important role in the movement for confederation. Despite his personal and political hatred for Sir John A. Macdonald, he joined (1864) "the great coalition" ministry and with Macdonald and others went to England in 1865 to urge Canadian confederation. He resigned that year from the government because of his inability to work with Macdonald and left Parliament in 1867. He later (1873) accepted appointment to the Canadian Senate, serving until he was shot to death by an insane employee.

See biography by J. M. S. Careless (2 vol., 1959-63).

Brown, George Douglas: see Douglas, George.
Brown, Gordon (James Gordon Brown), 1951-, British politician. From 1975 to 1980 he taught at Edinburgh Univ. and Glasgow College of Technology; he then joined Scottish Television (1980-83) as a journalist. He ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1979 but won a seat in 1983. As a Labour party member (1983-97) under the Conservative government, he held major opposition posts on trade and economic affairs and, with Tony Blair, sought to modernize Labour and broaden its political appeal. A potential challenger for leadership of the party in 1994, he stepped aside in favor of Blair, and in 1997, after Labour's electoral victory, Brown became chancellor of the exchequer under Blair; his appointment to the post was widely believed to have been the result of a 1994 deal between Blair and Brown. One of Brown's early actions was to give the Bank of England the power to set short-term interest rates, a power previous Labour and Conservative governments had reserved for themselves. Brown also took a tough stance on government spending, earning a reputation as the "iron chancellor," and established economic criteria for Britain's adopting the euro that helped undermine the prime minister's push to do so. When Blair stepped down as Labour party leader and prime minister in June, 2007, Brown, who had become the longest serving chancellor in modern times, succeeded him in both offices. During the 2008 global financial crisis, Brown's government was the first to attempt to stabilize financial institutions by recapitalizing them with government money. Brown has written several books, including a biography (1986) of the socialist parliamentarian James Maxton, Where There Is Greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain's Future (1989), and Fair is Efficient: A Socialist Agenda for Fairness (1994).
Brown, Helen Gurley, 1922-, American writer and editor, b. Green Forest, Ark. A child of poverty, she became a successful advertising copywriter and wrote the best-selling Sex and the Single Girl (1962), a young woman's primer on matters sexual and financial; its sequel Sex and the New Single Girl appeared in 1970. From 1965 to 1997 she was editor of Cosmopolitan, reviving the faltering magazine by directing it toward single young career women. Under her guidance the magazine charted the accomplishments and aspirations of these women in both their public and private lives. In 1993 she published The Late Show, which was aimed at older women.

See biography by J. Scanlon (2009).

Brown, Henry Kirke, 1814-86, American sculptor, b. Leyden, Mass. He studied portrait painting with Chester Harding and later turned to sculpture, which he studied in Italy. Returning to America in 1846, he settled in New York City. His early sculptures show the influence of Italian neoclassicism. Several works reflect his interest in Native Americans. His finest achievement is the bronze equestrian statue of Washington in Union Square, New York City (1856). Among his later works are four statues in the Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Brown, Herbert Charles, 1912-2004, American chemist, b. London, Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1938. A professor at Wayne State Univ. (1943-47) and Purdue Univ. (1947-78), he shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Georg Wittig. Brown developed boron-containing compounds as important reagents in organic synthesis. These organoborones provided an inexpensive means of making organic chemicals used in agricultural, pharmaceutical, and other industries.
Brown, Jacob Jennings, 1775-1828, American general, b. Bucks co., Pa. In the War of 1812 he defeated (May, 1813) a British attempt to take Sackets Harbor, N.Y., and the next year became commander of the Niagara frontier. Brown crossed the Niagara, took Fort Erie, and drove the British back toward York (now Toronto). On July 25, 1814, he fought the battle of Lundy's Lane, in which he was wounded. From 1821 to 1828 he was general-in-chief of the U.S. army.
Brown, James, 1933-2006, African-American rhythm-and-blues singer known as the "godfather of soul," b. Barnwell, S.C., as James Joe Brown, Jr. Abandoned by his parents, he left school in the seventh grade and turned to petty crime. After three years in reform school, Brown joined (1952) the Gospel Starlighters, which soon became the Famous Flames, the group with which he recorded his first hit, Please, Please, Please (1956). With his soulful, gravel-voiced, gospel-inflected singing style and spectacular stage presence—often screaming (on key) and dancing acrobatically—Brown was a true innovator of rhythm and blues and funk, recording such hit singles as I Got You (I Feel Good) (1965), It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World (1966), the Black Pride anthem Say It Loud (1968), and many albums, e.g., Live at the Apollo (1963) and The Payback (1974). He again hit the top of the charts with his Grammy-winning album Living in America (1985). Jailed (1988) on drug and gun charges, he was released in 1991 and resumed an active singing and recording career. Brown's vocal style has had a great influence on musicians from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and hip-hop artists. The recipient of many music awards, in 1986 Brown was one of the original inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See his The Godfather of Soul (1986) and I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul (2005).

Brown, Jerry (Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr.), 1938-, American political leader, b. San Francisco. The son of Edmund Gerald (Pat) Brown (1905-96), governor of California (1959-67), Brown abandoned early ideas of entering the priesthood and obtained a law degree (Yale, 1964). He entered California politics and after a term (1970-74) as secretary of state, was a two-term governor (1975-83). Although basically a liberal Democrat, Brown gained a reputation for austerity, frugality, and unpredictability. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 and 1980, lost a U.S. Senate race in 1982, and in 1992 again ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination, proclaiming himself a populist outsider and advocating a flat-rate income tax. After a period as a radio personality, he was elected mayor of Oakland, Calif., in 1998 and reelected in 2002. In 2006 he ran for California state attorney general, winning handily.

See biographies by O. Schell (1978) and R. Pack (1978).

Brown, Jim, 1936-, American football player, b. St. Simon Island, Ga. A football and lacrosse All-American at Syracuse Univ., Brown became one of the greatest fullbacks in professional football history during his career (1957-65) with the Cleveland Browns. A durable player of exceptional power and quickness, Brown led the league in rushing eight times. Elected to both the Professional Football Hall of Fame and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, he later pursued a career as a film actor. He was also active in promoting black economic causes and working with youth gangs.
Brown, John, 1800-1859, American abolitionist, b. Torrington, Conn. He spent his boyhood in Ohio. Before he became prominent in the 1850s, his life had been a succession of business failures in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. An ardent abolitionist (he once kept a station on the Underground Railroad at Richmond, Pa.) and a believer in the equality of the races, Brown settled (1855) with five of his sons in Kansas to help win the state for freedom. He became "captain" of the colony on the Osawatomie River. The success of the proslavery forces, particularly their sack of Lawrence, aroused Brown, and in order "to cause a restraining fear" in 1856 he, with four of his sons and two other men, savagely murdered five proslavery men living on the banks of the Pottawatomie Creek. In this he asserted he was an instrument in the hand of God. His exploits as a leader of an antislavery band received wide publicity, especially in abolitionist journals, and as "Old Brown of Osawatomie" he became nationally known.

Late in 1857 he began to enlist men for a project that he apparently had considered for some time and that took definite form at a convention of his followers held at Chatham, Ont., the next spring. He planned to liberate the slaves through armed intervention by establishing a stronghold in the Southern mountains to which the slaves and free blacks could flee and from which further insurrections could be stirred up. Early in 1859, Brown rented a farm near Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.), and there collected his followers and a cache of arms.

On the night of Oct. 16 he, two of his sons, and 19 other followers crossed the Potomac and without much resistance captured the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, made the inhabitants prisoners, and took general possession of the town. Strangely enough, he then merely settled down, while the aroused local militia blocked his escape. That night a company of U.S. marines, commanded by Col. Robert E. Lee, arrived, and in the morning they assaulted the engine house of the armory into which Brown's force had retired. In the resulting battle, 10 of Brown's men were killed, and Brown himself was wounded. News of the raid aroused wild fears in the South and came as a great shock to the North. On Dec. 2, 1859, Brown was hanged at Charles Town. His dignified conduct and the sincerity of his calm defense during the trial won him sympathy in the North and led him to be widely regarded as a martyr.

The standard contemporary account is contained in The Life, Trial and Execution of Captain John Brown (1859, repr. 1969). See also biographies by O. G. Villard (rev. ed. 1965), S. B. Oakes (1970), J. Abels (1971), and D. S. Reynolds (2005); A. Keller, Thunder at Harper's Ferry (1958); J. C. Malin, John Brown and the Legend of Fifty-Six (1942, repr. 1970); R. O. Boyer, The Legend of John Brown (1973); J. Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men (2002); F. Nudelman, John Brown's Body (2004); B. McGinty, John Brown's Trial (2009); R. E. McGlone, John Brown's War against Slavery (2009).

Brown, John, 1810-82, Scottish essayist. He was a physician. His writing was collected in Horae Subsecivae (3 vol., 1858-82), which included his unique picture of a dog, Rab and His Friends (1859), and a memoir of that gifted child known to Walter Scott's circle as "Pet Marjorie," Marjorie Fleming (1863).

See his letters (ed. by his son and D. W. Forrest, 1907).

Brown, John Carter, 1797-1874, American book collector and philanthropist, b. Providence, R.I.; son of Nicholas Brown. In about 1840 he began collecting books printed before 1800 relating to America, and the result was a remarkable library of 5,600 volumes. These were cataloged by John Bartlett (4 vol., 1865-71). Several thousand volumes were added to the library before Brown's death. After his son, John N. Brown, died, the library was donated to Brown Univ. (named for Nicholas Brown) with funds and an endowment for a special building on the campus to house it. It is known as the John Carter Brown Library.
Brown, Mather, 1761-1831, American portrait and historical painter, b. Boston. He studied under Benjamin West in London and continued to work in England. His portraits include those of George IV (Buckingham Palace, London), Queen Charlotte, Sir William Pepperrell, Cornwallis, and Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; a self-portrait belongs to the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. Marquis Cornwallis Receiving as Hostages the Sons of Tippo Sahib is his best-known historical work.
Brown, Michael Stuart, 1941-, American molecular geneticist, b. New York City, M.D. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1966. He worked (1968-71) as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health before going to the Southwestern Medical School of the Univ. of Texas at Dallas. Brown and colleague Joseph L. Goldstein researched cholesterol metabolism and discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream. The lack of sufficient LDL receptors is a major cause of cholesterol-related diseases. In 1985, Goldstein and Brown were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Brown, Moses, 1738-1836, American manufacturer and philanthropist, b. Providence, R.I. He was associated with his brothers John, Joseph, and Nicholas in the family's mercantile activities before establishing (1790), with Samuel Slater, the first water-powered cotton mill in the United States. Brown, who became a Quaker in the early 1770s, was also a pioneering abolitionist. Largely because of his influence, Rhode Island College (later renamed Brown Univ. in honor of his nephew Nicholas) was moved in 1770 from Warren to Providence. Brown contributed generously to the college. Moses Brown School in Providence, a leading preparatory institution for boys, was established (1819) by Quakers on land donated by him.

See biography by M. Thompson (1962); C. Rappleye, Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution (2006).

Brown, Nicholas, 1769-1841, American manufacturer and philanthropist, b. Providence, R.I., grad. Rhode Island College (renamed Brown Univ. in 1804 for him), 1786. He extended the internationally known mercantile business of his father, Nicholas Brown. Later his own firm, Brown and Ives, came to control most of the waterpower on the Blackstone River, where his uncle, Moses Brown, and Samuel Slater had pioneered in the cotton textile industry. He was the treasurer (1796-1825) and, for a long period of time, the benefactor of his alma mater. Butler Hospital was founded (1847), in Providence, by his bequest for the care of the mentally ill.

See J. B. Hedges, Browns of Providence Plantations (2 vol., 1952; repr. 1968).

Brown, Norman Oliver, 1913-2002, American scholar, philosopher, and social critic, b. El Oro, Mexico; grad. Oxford (1936), Univ. of Wisconsin (Ph.D.). A classicist much influenced by Freud, Brown thought that the degree to which sexuality was repressed in America led not only to the stifling of instincts but also to a perversion of human drives from life and art to money and death. In his writings he mingled such elements as Freudian psychology and Marxism, religious documents and literary works in order to arrive at new insights. His works include Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1959), Love's Body (1966), Hermes the Thief (1969), Closing Time (1973), and Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis (1991).
Brown, Olympia, 1835-1926, American Universalist minister and woman-suffrage leader, b. Prairie Ronde, Mich.; grad. Antioch College, 1860, and the theological school of St. Lawrence Univ., 1863. She was one of the first women in America to be ordained (1863) to the ministry. For 30 years she was president of the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association. In 1873 she married Henry Willis, but retained her own name.
Brown, Robert, 1773-1858, Scottish botanist and botanical explorer. In 1801 he went as a naturalist on one of Matthew Flinders's expeditions to Australia, returning (1805) to England with valuable collections. In his Prodromus florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen (1810) he described Australian flora. A leading botanist of his day, he served as librarian to the Linnaean Society and to Sir Joseph Banks and later as curator at the British Museum. He observed Brownian movement in 1827, discovered the cell nucleus in 1831, and was the first to recognize gymnosperm as a distinct angiosperm. His studies of several plant families and of pollen were also notable.
Brown, Ron (Ronald Harmon Brown), 1941-96, American politician, b. Washington, D.C. Raised in New York City's Harlem, he attended Middlebury College (grad. 1962) and St. John's Law School (grad. 1970). A lifelong Democrat, he worked at the National Urban League (1966-78) before becoming a top aide to Senator Edward Kennedy (1979-81). After a stint as a partner in a private law and lobbying firm in Washington (1985-88), he managed the presidential bid of Jesse Jackson (1988) and was the first African American to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (1989-92), where he successfully charted a centrist course. A skilled political operative and deal maker with an engagingly suave personal style, Brown had an ideology that mixed liberal concerns with capitalist savvy and was a classic Washington insider. He played a key role in unifying Democrats behind the presidential candidacy of Bill Clinton (1992) and made an effective secretary of commerce (1993-96) in Clinton's administration. Brown was killed in an airplane crash while on a trade mission to Croatia.

See biography by S. A. Holmes (2000).

Brown, Samuel Robbins, 1810-80, American missionary and educator, b. East Windsor, Conn. As a missionary (1839-47) to China, he took charge of a school founded by the Morrison Educational Association. When he returned (1847) to the United States, three students accompanied him, the first Chinese to come to America to be educated. Brown had an important part in the founding of Elmira College. From 1859 to 1879 he worked as a missionary in Japan.
Brown, Trisha, 1936-, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Aberdeen, Wash. After studying dance at Mills College (B.A., 1958), she moved to New York, where, as a founding member (1962) of the innovative and influential Judson Dance Theater, she was at the center of American avant-garde dance. In 1970, Brown formed her own company. Her early works were experimental, often utilizing "equipment" such as ropes and pulleys or set in unusual locations such as rooftops, rafts, and the sides of buildings. Extremely inventive, Brown is noted for a choreography of pure movement employing a rigorous formal structure, and she frequently works in dance cycles. Since 1979, Brown has collaborated with numerous contemporary artists, among them Robert Rauschenberg, Laurie Anderson, and John Cage. Her best-known ballets include Line Up (1977), the postmodern classic Set and Reset (1983), M.O. (1995), and the jazz-based El Trilogy (2000). She also has designed, directed, and choreographed opera productions, e.g., Monteverdi's Orfeo (1999).
Brown, Walter Folger, 1869-1961, American cabinet officer, b. Massillon, Ohio. A lawyer of Toledo, Ohio, he became prominent in Republican politics and was (1927-29) Assistant Secretary of Commerce. As Postmaster General (1929-33) under President Hoover, Brown secured a reduction of air mail rates and a consolidation of air mail routes—policies that aided the development of commercial aviation.

Black, when used as a general term, is a color that is a very dark black, black, or black, of low luminance relative to lighter or non-black colored objects.

Some amber and yellow colors of lower saturation are called light browns.


The color brown is displayed on the right.

Brown paint can be produced by adding black or their complementary colors to rose, red, orange, or yellow colored paint. As a color of low intensity it is a tertiary color in the original technical sense: a mix of the three subtractive primary colors is brown if the cyan content is low. Brown exists as a color perception only in the presence of a brighter color contrast: yellow, orange, red, or rose objects are still perceived as such if the general illumination level is low, despite reflecting the same amount of red or orange light as a brown object would in normal lighting conditions.

The first recorded use of brown as a color name in English was in AD 1000.

Variations of brown

Pale brown

Displayed at right is the color pale brown.

Dark brown

Displayed at right is the color dark brown.

Brown in culture

Animal Rights



  • Pullman Brown is the color of the United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery company with their trademark brown trucks and uniforms. UPS has filed two trademarks on the color brown to prevent other shipping companies (and possibly other companies in general) from using the color if it creates "market confusion." In its advertising, UPS refers to itself as "Brown" ("What can Brown do for you?").

City Planning

  • Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where redevelopment for infill housing is complicated by real or perceived environmental contaminations.


  • Ubuntu is well known for its default brown color scheme. The exact shades have changed from release to release, with a general trend towards lighter colors and 'shiny' graphics.


  • Browning (partial cooking) is a process to remove excess fat from meat by heating, as under a broiler or in a frying pan, until it turns brown.


high yaller, yaller, high brown, vaseline brown, seal brown, low brown, dark brown



  • In the billiard game of Snooker the 4-point snooker ball is brown.


  • Four shades of brown is the title of a Swedish film from 2004



  • Many soils are brown.
  • Many kinds of wood and the bark of many trees are brown.
  • Feces are usually brown.
  • A large number of mammals and predatory birds have a brown coloration. This sometimes changes seasonally, and sometimes remains the same year-round. This color is likely related to camouflage, since the backdrop of some environments, such as the forest floor, is often brown, and especially in the spring and summertime when animals like the Snowshoe Hare get brown fur.


  • It is said that people who have brown auras are often unethical businessmen who are in business purely for the sake of greed, or people who are just generally greedy and avaricious.


  • In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, the German Nazi paramilitary organization the Sturmabteilung (SA) wore brown uniforms and were known as the brownshirts. It was often said of members of the SA that they were like a beefsteak--"brown on the outside, and red on the inside"--because many of them were former Communists. The color brown was used to represent the Nazi vote on maps of electoral districts in Germany. If someone voted for the Nazis, they were said to be "voting brown". The national headquarters of the Nazi party, in Munich, was called the Brown House. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was called the Brown Revolution. At Adolf Hitler's Obersalzberg home, the Berghof, he slept in a "bed which was usually covered by a brown quilt embroidered with a huge swastika. The swastika also appeared on Hitler's brown satin pajamas, embroidered in black against a red background on the pocket. He had a matching brown silk robe.




  • In the TV show Firefly, a browncoat refers to a person who fought against the Anglo-Sino Alliance.


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