Black and white photograph of Earl Leroy Brewer.
Gov. Earl Leroy Brewer (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Archives and Records Services Division, Painter [Milton McFarland] Sr. Collection PI/1988.0006/Box 557 Folder 1])

Earl Leroy Brewer

(1869–1942) Thirty-Eighth Governor, 1912–1916

Gov. Earl Brewer’s inauguration in 1912 was an unusually festive occasion and attracted the largest crowd in the state’s history up to that time. Railroad companies offered reduced rates and thousands of people came to Jackson from all over the state. There was an enormous parade and a public reception at the new Capitol, followed by a gala inaugural ball at the Stag Club. First Lady Minnie Marian Block Brewer’s Parisian gown, which was a bright shade of yellow chiffon and satin, elicited considerable comment.

Earl Brewer, the first graduate of the University of Mississippi Law School to be elected governor, was born in Carroll County on 11 August 1869. After completing the school’s regular two-year law course in less than one year, Brewer opened a law office in Water Valley in 1892. One of his most famous clients was the widow of legendary railroad worker Casey Jones, whom Brewer represented in her out-of-court settlement with the Illinois Central Railroad.

Brewer represented Yalobusha County in the State Senate from 1896 to 1900 and in 1902 was appointed district attorney for the 11th Judicial District. After receiving that appointment he moved to Clarksdale. Brewer ran for governor in 1907 but was narrowly defeated in a runoff election.

Brewer again ran for governor four years later and holds the distinction of being the state’s only Democratic gubernatorial candidate to run unopposed in the primary since the enactment of the primary law. In the general election Brewer easily defeated Socialist candidate S. W. Rose, who received only 2,049 votes.

Shortly after Brewer took office the legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 65 authorizing the use of trusties from the State Penitentiary to work as domestic servants in the Governor’s Mansion. That system continued for many years and proved highly satisfactory. The rate of recidivism among participating inmates was extremely low.

While in office Brewer continued to promote the progressive reforms of his immediate predecessors. During his administration the constitutional amendment establishing an elective judiciary was implemented, a consolidated Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning was created, several banking laws were passed, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics was established.

After he left office in January 1916, Brewer continued his law practice in Clarksdale. In 1924 he ran for the US Senate but was defeated by Sen. Pat Harrison. Brewer then retired from public life, and he died on 10 March 1942.

Further Reading

  • Jackson Daily News (14 January 1912)
  • Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1917)
  • C. P. J. Mooney, The Mid-South and Its Builders (1920)
  • WPA Source Papers, Coahoma County

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Earl Leroy Brewer
  • Coverage 1869–1942
  • Author
  • Keywords Earl Leroy Brewer
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date April 6, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 13, 2018