Herbert Brownell, Jr., U.S. Attorney General

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Herbert Brownell, Jr.

Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: Nemaha County, Nebraska, United States
Death: May 1, 1996 (92)
New York, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Herbert Brownell and May Brownell

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Herbert Brownell, Jr., U.S. Attorney General


Herbert Brownell, Jr. (February 20, 1904 – May 1, 1996) was the Attorney General of the United States in President Eisenhower's cabinet from 1953 to 1957.

Early life

Brownell, one of the seven children of Herbert and May Miller Brownell, was born in Peru, Nebraska. His father was a professor at the University of Nebraska, Teachers College in education and physical sciences as well as an author. His brother, Samuel Brownell, became U.S. Commissioner of Education. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Nebraska in 1924, and, in his senior year, being a member of the Society of Innocents, he attended Yale Law School, earning his law degree in 1927. While at the University of Nebraska he joined The Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

Susan B. Anthony was Herbert Brownell's cousin.


Brownell was admitted to the bar in New York, and began his practice in New York City. In February 1929, he joined the law firm of Lord Day & Lord in New York, and except for periods of public service remained with them until his retirement in 1989. He married Doris McCarter on June 16, 1934. They had four children and remained together until she died on June 12, 1979. He married again in 1987 to the former Mrs. Marion Taylor, but the couple separated in December 1989 and were divorced.

Besides his law practice, Brownell had a long and active political career as a Republican. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1932, and served there from 1933 to 1937. In 1942, he was the campaign manager for Thomas E. Dewey's election as Governor of New York. He also managed Dewey's 1944 and 1948 campaigns for president. From 1944 to 1946 he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee, where he focused on modernizing the RNC with advanced polling methods and fundraising techniques. He was credited by many as being instrumental in helping the Republicans gain control of the United States Congress in the 1946 off-year elections.

Political career

He was instrumental in convincing General Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for President of the United States, and worked in Eisenhower's 1952 campaign. Eisenhower appointed him as Attorney General on January 21, 1953 and he served until November 8, 1957. Early in his term, he was involved in several landmark civil rights cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. Although it was weakened by the United States Senate, he drafted the legislative proposal that ultimately became the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was the first civil rights law enacted in over 80 years. Because of his strong stance in favor of civil rights, Brownell became very unpopular in the South. Eisenhower wished to nominate Brownell to the Supreme Court when vacancies occurred in 1957 and 1958, but felt he could not because segregationists in the Senate would fight and defeat the nomination.

Brownell also took himself out of the running for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Earl Warren in 1969 with the eventual replacement being Warren E Burger.

Brownell later served as the United States representative to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and in 1972-1974 as a special U.S. envoy to Mexico for negotiations over the Colorado River.

In addition to many honors and other civic roles, Brownell was President of the New York City Bar Association in 1982. From 1986 to 1989 he served on the Commission for the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. He died of cancer in New York City on May 1, 1996, aged 92.

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Herbert Brownell, Jr., U.S. Attorney General's Timeline

February 20, 1904
Nemaha County, Nebraska, United States
May 1, 1996
Age 92
New York, New York, United States