Purveyor General of Hospitals Nathan Brownson
Nathan Brownson was a respected Georgian doctor during the American Revolution.
Brownson served on the national and state legislatures, as well as on the battlefield.
His moderation after independence led to a brief term as Governor of Georgia.
Nathan Brownson relocated from Connecticut to Georgia just before the Revolutionary War began.
Since Georgia was the youngest colony, there was apple opportunity for a new doctor to make a prosperous living.
It was not long before Nathan was chosen to represent St. John’s Parish in the Provincial Congress, with the goal of preserving the liberties of his constituents.
By 1777, independence had been declared and Brownson was sent as one of Georgia’s delegates to the Continental Congress. There he worked closely with Lyman Hall, another Connecticut doctor who made Georgia his home.
Brownson took a trip to the (newly declared) State of Vermont to gather information about their preparedness for actual statehood. Although it seemed they had the qualifications, due to resistance from New York and New Hampshire the issue was put off until after the war.
Nathan was back in Congress when the British approached Philadelphia. He fled the city with the rest of the Continental Delegates.
General of Hospitals
When his term in the Continental Congress concluded, Brownson decided to put his medical skills to work for the war effort.
He joined the ill-fated expedition into Florida where he served as Director General of Hospitals for the mission. This was followed with a promotion by General Nathanael Greene to the position of Purveyor General of Hospitals for the Southern Department. This lengthy title basically means he was in charge of all the medical facilities south of Maryland.
Of all the colonies involved in the American Revolution, none was perhaps more divided internally from political parties than Georgia. To settle this, General Greene sent Brownson to unite the State.
Brownson became a compromise candidate. He had been representing the State as a whole in the Continental Congress, then, devoting himself to the war effort, he was absent from politics for about three years.
The State Legislature unanimously elected him Governor of Georgia.
During his tenure, he oversaw the ending of hostilities, Most notably with the Native Americans on the Georgian frontier.
After the Revolutionary War came to its conclusion, Brownson became a Justice of the Peace. He also returning to his medial practice.
Nathan attended Georgia’s ratification convention in support of the Constitution. After this, he wrote to George Washington throwing his hat in the ring for a judicial position with the federal courts. This was extremely common at the time, though pains were taken to balance out an immodest account of one’s successes with a humble presentation. Unfortunately, this position was never given.
Instead Brownson assisted in the writing of Georgia’s State Constitution, after which he was chosen as the first President of the State Senate. He passed away just five years later ending a revolutionary life.
A large portion of this article is based off the letter Brownson wrote to Washington. He was nice enough to give me (err...um...George) an overview of his life, which can be read here. It's double interesting because it gives you a look into what the First President was dealing with in his first few week of office. In creating this website, I've read dozens of letters like this to old George.
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If you're interested in reading more about Georgia during the Revolutionary War, I'd recommend picking up the Robert C. Jones book below through our affiliate Amazon.