Governor and legislator Aaron V. Brown was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, the son of Reverend Aaron and Elizabeth Melton Brown. Brown attended school at Westrayville Academy and graduated as valedictorian from the University of North Carolina in 1814. While he was in college, Brown's family moved to Giles County. After graduation, Brown also came to Tennessee and read law in Nashville; he was admitted to the bar in 1817. Brown began his practice in Nashville but soon settled in Pulaski, where he formed a partnership with James K. Polk of Columbia. At an undetermined date, Brown married Sallie Burrus of Giles County, and they had four children. After Sallie's death, Brown married Mrs. Cynthia Pillow Saunders, sister of General Gideon J. Pillow, in 1845. They had one son.
An ardent Democrat, Brown had a long political career. He represented Giles and Lincoln Counties in the Tennessee State Senate, 1821-25 and 1827-29, and served one term in the Tennessee House, 1831-33. He served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1839-45. Brown was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore that nominated Polk for the presidency. Although Polk lost the Tennessee vote in the general election, Brown won the gubernatorial election, serving from 1845 to 1847. While governor, Brown issued the call for 2,600 men for the Mexican War and got thirty thousand volunteers. By the end of his term, many Tennesseans were weary of the war, which the Whigs made an issue in the gubernatorial campaign. Brown lost his reelection bid to Neill S. Brown, also from Giles County.
Brown was a delegate to the Nashville Convention which met in the summer of 1850 to debate the issue of slavery in the new western territory. Credited along with Gideon Pillow as the author of the “Tennessee Platform,” Brown worried about northern intentions but adopted a conciliatory stance and advised southerners to put the past behind them.
In 1857 President James Buchanan appointed Brown to the post of Postmaster General, where he served until his death in March 1859. Brown is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.