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BROWN, John, (uncle of Benjamin Brown and grandfather of John Brown Francis), a Representative from Rhode Island; born in Providence, R.I., January 27, 1736; engaged in mercantile pursuits; one of the party which destroyed the British sloop of war Gaspee in Narragansett Bay June 17, 1772; sent in irons to Boston for trial, but released through the efforts of his brother Moses; laid the cornerstone of the first building of the College of Rhode Island (now Brown University) May 14, 1770; trustee of Brown University, Providence, R.I., 1774-1803; treasurer 1775-1796; member of the State house of representatives 1782-1784; chosen as a Delegate to the Continental Congress in 1784 and 1785, but did not serve; elected as a Federalist to the Sixth Congress (March 4, 1799-March 3, 1801); resumed his former business pursuits; died in Providence, R.I., September 20, 1803; interment in the North Burial Ground.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Rhode Island Historical Society

Providence, RI
Papers: 1749-1824, 7 boxes. The papers of John Brown contain chiefly correspondence relating to his shipping firm, Brown & Francis and its involvement with East Indian trade, his gin distillery, Providence Bank, lands in Herkimer County, N.Y., state and national politics, presidential election of Thomas Jefferson, Brown University, American Revolution, U.S. War with France (1798-1800), life in Washington, D.C., travels to Baltimore, Md., and family affairs; and miscellaneous papers including diaries, journals, ships' papers, inventories, and financial and household accounts. Includes journals (1796) of his daughter, Sarah (Brown) Herreshoff (1773-1819) detailing social events in Providence; miscellaneous records of ship General Washington and other Brown & Francis vessels; and political correspondence with George C. Champlin chiefly concerning state elections. Persons represented include John Brown's son, James (1761-1864), his daughter, Abby (Brown) Francis (1766-1821), her husband, Brown's partner, John Francis (1762-1796), her brother-in-law, also involved in the family business, Thomas W. Francis (1765-1815), John Brown Francis (1791-1864), and Sarah Herreshoff's husband, Carl I. Herreshoff (1763-1819).
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Brown, Henry A. L. and Richard J. Walton. John Brown's Tract: Lost Adirondack Empire. With an introduction by William G. McLoughlin. Canaan, N.H.: Published for the Rhode Island Historical Society by Phoenix Pub., 1988.

Rappleye, Charles. Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

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