Brown, William Garrott. The Life of Oliver Ellsworth. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. 369 pp. Frontispiece. Three plates. Reprint available September 2004 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 1-58477-450-9. Cloth. $90. * As a member of the first United States Senate Ellsworth [1745-1807] supported Alexander Hamilton's policies and was the main author of the Judiciary Act of 1789. He became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1796. During his brief tenure, which ended in 1799 due to poor health, Ellsworth worked to expand the authority of the federal courts and extend common law procedures in appeals to equity and admiralty cases. With limited success he tried to initiate the policy of the Court's handing down per curiam opinions for the entire court rather than seriatim opinions by individual justices. Originally published in 1905, Brown's biography remains the standard account of Ellsworth's life and work.
In 1904 William Garrott Brown traveled the American South, investigating the region’s political, economic, and social conditions. Using the pen name “Stanton,” Brown published twenty epistles in the Boston Evening Transcript detailing his observations. The South at Work is a compilation of these newspaper articles, providing a valuable snapshot of the South as it was simultaneously emerging from post–Civil War economic depression and imposing on African Americans the panoply of Jim Crow laws and customs that sought to exclude them from all but the lowest rungs of southern society. A Harvard-educated historian and journalist originally from Alabama, Brown had been commissioned by the Evening Transcript to visit a wide range of locations and to chronicle the region with a greater depth than that of typical travelers’ accounts. Some articles featured familiar topics such as a tobacco warehouse in Durham, North Carolina; a textile mill in Columbia, South Carolina; and the vast steel mills at Birmingham. However, Brown also covered atypical enterprises such as citrus farming in Florida, the King Ranch in Texas, and the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. To add perspective, he talked to businessmen and politicians, as well as everyday workers. In addition to describing the importance of diversifying the South’s agricultural economy beyond cotton, Brown addressed race relations and the role of politicians such as James K. Vardaman of Mississippi, the growth of African American communities such as Hayti in Durham, and the role universities played in changing the intellectual climate of the South. The editor, Bruce E. Baker, has written an introduction and provided thorough annotations for each of Brown’s letters. Baker demonstrates the value of the collection as it touches on racism, moderate progressivism, and accommodation with the political status quo in the South. Baker and Brown’s combined work makes The South at Work one of the most detailed and interesting portraits of the region at the beginning of the twentieth century. Publication in book form makes The South at Work conveniently available to students and scholars of modern southern and American history.