JACOB JENNINGS BROWN was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on 9 May 1775; was raised by Quaker parents on the family farm; was reported by one anonymous biographer to have "pursued learning with zeal and perseverance and acquired it with facility"; supervised a school at Crosswicks, New Jersey, 1793-1796; engaged in surveying on the Ohio frontier, 1796-1798; taught briefly in New York City; was briefly military secretary to Major General Alexander Hamilton; purchased wilderness shorelands on Lake Ontario in northern New York, 1799; founded the village of Brownville and became a successful farmer; married Pamelia Williams, 1802; was elected to the state legislature and served also as a county judge; was appointed colonel of militia, 1809, brigadier general, 1811, and major general, 1812; was appointed major general of New York Volunteers and assigned to command the Oswego-Lake St. Francis sector; participated in an action at Ogdensburg, New York, 1812, and repulsed the British at Sackett's Harbor, 1813; was appointed brigadier general in the Regular Army, July 1813; participated in the abortive Wilkinson expedition against Montreal but emerged with his reputation unimpaired; was appointed major general and assigned to command of the Niagara frontier, January 1814; defeated the British in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, suffering severe wounds in the latter action, July 1814; received the thanks of Congress for his battlefield achievements and was presented by that body with a gold medal, November 1814; was the senior officer of the United States Army, 15 June 1815-24 February 1828; by act of Congress, assumed the formal title of commanding general of the Army, June 1821; recommended pay incentives to encourage reenlistments, pay increases for noncommissioned officers, and periodic centralized unit training to avert deterioration in widely scattered and fragmented elements; died while in office at Washington, D.C., on 24 February 1828.

The Artist

John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) spent the first five years of his life in his native England in the care of a maternal relative, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, after whom he was named. His parents immigrated to the United States, where he later completed an apprenticeship with Edward Savage in Philadelphia and New York City. His interests turned to engraving and then portrait painting, first opening a studio with Joseph Wood, and later operated one independently. At the height of his career he made regular winter trips to the South to paint clients in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans. His full-length portraits of military figures of the War of 1812 hang in New York's City Hall. His portrait of Maj. Gen. Jacob J. Brown is reproduced from the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Image currently unavailable

Jacob Jennings Brown
By John Wesley Jarvis
Oil on canvas, 421/2" x 35", ca. 1815


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Last updated 24 February 2006