Orville Hickman Browning
Orville Hickman Browning (February 10, 1806 – August 10, 1881) was
an attorney in
Illinois and a politician who was active in the Whig
and Republican Parties. He is notable for his service as a U.S.
Senator and the United States Secretary of the Interior.
Born in Kentucky, and trained as a lawyer, Browning settled in
Illinois, where he served in the militia during the Black Hawk War,
established himself as a successful attorney, and became involved in
politics as a Whig. He served in the
Illinois State Senate and the
Illinois House of Representatives, and ran unsuccessfully for the
United States House of Representatives. When the Whig Party broke
apart in the mid 1850s and the Republican Party was formed as the
country's major anti-slavery party, Browning took part in the
convention that organized the party in Illinois.
In 1861, Browning was appointed to the
United States Senate
United States Senate seat left
vacant by the death of Stephen A. Douglas; he served until January
1863, after which he resumed practicing law. After the death of
Abraham Lincoln, Browning became a supporter of Andrew Johnson; in
1866, Johnson named Browning as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and
Browning served until the end of Johnson's term in March 1869.
After leaving office, Browning practiced law in Washington, DC and
Illinois. He was as a successful Democratic candidate for a delegate's
position at the 1869-1870
Illinois constitutional convention. He died
Illinois in 1881.
1 Early life
2 Start of career
3 National politics
4 Later life
5 Death and burial
11 External links
Browning was born in
Cynthiana, Kentucky on February 10, 1806, the
son of the son of Sally (Brown) Browning and Micaijah Browning.
Sally Brown was the daughter of James Brown, a judge in Bourbon
County. Micaijah Browning was a prominent merchant and farmer who
also served as a justice of the peace, member of the county court, and
presiding county court judge.[a] Orville Browning attended Augusta
College in Augusta, Kentucky, studied law with his uncle William
Brown, and attained admission to the bar in 1831.
Start of career
After becoming an attorney, Browning moved to Quincy, Illinois,
where he established a practice in partnership with Nehemiah
Bushnell. During the 1832
Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War he served in the Illinois
Militia. Active in politics as a Whig, he served in the Illinois
State Senate from 1836 to 1840, and the
Illinois House of
Representatives from 1842 to 1844. His military and political
careers overlapped Abraham Lincoln's; as a result of their
involvement in Whig politics and their shared Kentucky backgrounds,
Lincoln and Browning became lifelong friends.
In 1844, Browning successfully defended five men who had been accused
of the murder of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint
movement. Browning was an unsuccessful candidate for election to
Congress in 1843, 1850, and 1852. In May 1856, he was a delegate to
the convention in Bloomington,
Illinois which was held in opposition
to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, one of the events that led to the
creation of the Republican Party.
In 1861, Browning was appointed to the United States Senate, filling
the vacancy created by the death of Stephen A. Douglas. He did not
run for a full term, and served from June 1861 to January 1863. During
his time in the Senate Browning served as the chairman of the
Committee on Enrolled Bills. He remained in Washington after his term
expired, and resumed the practice of law. President Andrew Johnson
appointed Browning as Secretary of the Interior in 1866, and he served
until the end of Johnson's term in 1869. From March to July, 1868
Browning also served as the interim U.S. Attorney General following
the resignation of Henry Stanbery.
After leaving office, he worked as a Washington lobbyist and lawyer
in partnership with Edgar Cowan,
Thomas Ewing and others. He won
election as a Democrat to the
Illinois Constitutional Convention of
Death and burial
Browning died in Quincy on August 10, 1881 and was buried at
Woodland Cemetery in Quincy.
Browning's siblings included: Talitha Ann; Amanda; Miranda; Marcus
Elliott; Milton Davis; Zelinda Field; Ann Davis; and Elizabeth
In 1836, Browning married Eliza H. Caldwell, a native of Kentucky.
They had no children, but became the parents of a foster daughter
whose mother had died. Emma Lord (1848-1885) resided with the
Brownings from the age of five; she became the wife of Orrin
Skinner, an attorney who practiced in New York and later moved to
Chicago. Skinner was later revealed to be a conman, and he was
arrested several times for check forgery and other frauds.
Skinner died in New York's Auburn Prison in 1896.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l American Civil War: The Definitive
Encyclopedia and Document Collection, p. 239.
^ a b c d e f g Genealogy of the Lewis Family in America,
^ a b c d e f g h Andrew Johnson: A Biographical Companion,
^ Carthage Conspiracy, pp. 79-83.
^ a b Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch,
1774-1989, p. 48.
^ Civil War High Commands, p. 149.
^ The Papers of Andrew Johnson, p. 674.
^ "Orrin Skinner's Operations".
^ "Notorious Swindler Dies in Prison", p. 2.
Eicher, John; Eicher, David (2001). Civil War High Commands. Stanford,
CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
Johnson, Andrew; Bergeron, Paul H. (2000). The Papers of Andrew
Johnson. 16. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.
Lewis, William Terrell (1893). Genealogy of the Lewis Family in
America. 1. Louisville, KY: Courier-Journal Job Printing Co.
Oaks, Dallin H.; Hill, Marvin S. (1979). Carthage Conspiracy: The
Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith. Champaign, IL:
Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-00762-0.
Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R.; Zuczek, Richard (2001). Andrew Johnson: A
Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Sobel, Robert (1990). Biographical Directory of the United States
Executive Branch, 1774-1989. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Tucker, Spencer C. (2013). American Civil War: The Definitive
Encyclopedia and Document Collection. I. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
"Orrin Skinner's Operations: His Career in
Chicago and Swindles in San
Francisco". New York Times. New York, NY. December 29, 1884.
"Notorious Swindler Dies in Prison". Lawrence Weekly World. Lawrence,
KS. September 24, 1896 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required
^ The county court judges did not hear legal cases, but functioned the
way a board of commissioners or a county legislature and executive
does in most states.
Dictionary of American Biography.
Baxter, Maurice G. (1957). Orville H. Browning, Lincoln's Friend and
Critic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Pease, Theodore Calvin; Randall, James G., eds. (1925–1931). The
Diary of Orville H. Browning, 1850–1881 (2 vols. ed.). Springfield,
Illinois State Historical Society.
United States Congress. "
Orville Hickman Browning
Orville Hickman Browning (id: b000960)".
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved
Orville Browning at Mr. Lincoln's White House
Stephen A. Douglas
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Illinois
June 26, 1861 – January 11, 1863
Served alongside: Lyman Trumbull
William Alexander Richardson
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Andrew Johnson
September 1, 1866 – March 4, 1869
Jacob Dolson Cox
United States Senators from Illinois
United States Secretaries of the Interior
Cabinet of President
Andrew Johnson (1865–69)
Secretary of State
William H. Seward
William H. Seward (1865–69)
Secretary of the Treasury
Hugh McCulloch (1865–69)
Secretary of War
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton (1865–68)
John M. Schofield (1868–69)
James Speed (1865–66)
Henry Stanbery (1866–68)
William M. Evarts
William M. Evarts (1868–69)
William Dennison (1865–66)
Alexander W. Randall (1866–69)
Secretary of the Navy
Gideon Welles (1865–69)
Secretary of the Interior
John P. Usher (1865)
James Harlan (1865–66)
Orville H. Browning (1866–69)
US Congress: B000960