Thursday, March 18, 2010

Arthur Brown: second time unlucky

Image from

By some reports, the dissolution of Arthur Brown's first marriage was punctuated by a gunshot. Unlike his later brides, not much is known about his first wife. Even her name is only recorded as L.C. Brown. Eventually, Arthur Brown took a shine to another woman: Isabel Cameron, the daughter of a state senator. It wasn't long before he deserted his family in favor of this new flame. In some versions, the move so enraged his first wife that she tried to shoot Cameron; in others, she confronted Brown in his law office and actually managed to fire a bullet, though it missed and Brown was able to take the gun away from her.

These alleged confrontations came to light in the wake of an incident that occurred a few decades after Brown's first breakup. Once again, a member of the fairer sex was upset with him because he was canoodling with someone else. But this time, the scorned woman had a better aim.

Brown's first relationship troubles took place in his home state of Michigan. Born in March of 1843 in Schoolcraft, he left for Ohio to attend Antioch College. He graduated in 1862, and went on to earn a legal degree from the University of Michigan. After his admission to the bar, he began practicing in Kalamazoo with a focus on mining and criminal law. When he walked out on his first wife, Brown was denounced by hundreds of his friends and associates. He married Cameron after his first wife divorced him, but with his reputation in Michigan broken he left the state in 1879 and relocated to Salt Lake City in Utah. He was later described as a "Gentile in faith, but a Mormon in practice."

Brown had some ambitions to be a U.S. District Attorney, but he settled for a private practice after that appointment failed to materialize. He eventually became a millionaire and well-known enough that he was chosen to represent Utah in the Senate after the territory became a state in 1896. The other Senator chosen, Frank J. Cannon, was picked for a term running through 1899. Brown's term was shorter; he was to begin in January of 1896 for a term ending in March of the next year. He didn't make much of an impact in Washington in this short time. Brown's profile in contemporary newspapers mostly focused on his steadfast opposition to the free silver movement despite its popularity in the West. "He has no consideration for anything that stands in his way, and the Senatorial courtesy is likely to receive many rude shocks," the New York Times said in their unflattering assessment. "He is an intense, bitter partisan with no sympathy for any one who does not share his view on general politics or on silver. Always pugnacious, he would be willing to take up any gauntlet." The Times also reported that there were irregularities in the Republican caucus that chose Brown, but the appointment was never seriously challenged.

Brown opted not to run for re-nomination at the end of his term and resumed practicing law. However, his foray into politics resulted in consequences that rippled through the rest of his life. At the 1896 Republican National Convention in St. Louis, he met Annie Maddison Bradley, a woman 30 years younger than him. Bradley worked as a clerk at the Salt Lake Water Works Department, and from 1900 to 1902 she was a secretary of Republican State Committee in Utah. Brown and Bradley began an affair, which seemed to have more downs than ups. Bradley was fairly open about her dalliances, telling her husband Clarence that the son she had borne in 1900 did not belong to him. Clarence responded by turning to the bottle and then leaving to work for a railroad in Nevada; there, he developed a gambling problem, embezzled from the company to compensate, and ultimately served 18 months of a two-year prison sentence. In September of 1902, Brown filed for divorce from his second wife. Isabel said that Brown abandoned her on the first of that month, and she hired a private investigator to find out what he was up to. For a time, he and Bradley had lived in Grand Junction, Colorado, but they had returned to Salt Lake City to take up rooms in a boarding house. Isabel was not keen on divorce, since she intended to be presented at court in England and divorced women were forbidden to enter there. Instead, she gladly accompanied police to the house to watch them arrest Brown and Bradley for adultery.

This action caused the love triangle to become a sensational public matter. Brown paid his own $500 bond as well as the bond for Bradley. There was a bit of a mix-up in her release, as she was sent out before a judge had officially approved the bond. She wasn't much of a fugitive; she wound up in jail four months later on the same adultery charge, and was ultimately arrested at least four times for the crime. At one point, Brown angrily confronted the police, accusing them of harassing Bradley and acting like cowards by sending out sizable forces to detain her. Brown himself racked up a similar record. In February of 1903, he was jailed after failing to pay a temporary $150 a month alimony to Isabel; he vowed to fight the order until it wound up in the Supreme Court. By October, he was under bond again for improper relations with Bradley, and the next month he was again bonded for $500 for adultery.

Isabel said the affair began about one year after the 1896 Republican National Convention, and details of fiery confrontations between the two women in Brown's life began to emerge. It was suggested that Isabel and Bradley had brawled at one point, with Isabel striking Bradley with a horsewhip. At another point, Isabel interrupted Brown and Bradley's attempt to get away to a hotel in Pontacello, Idaho. There, Isabel grabbed Bradley by the throat and threatened to kill her. In response, Brown gave Bradley a revolver to defend herself against his wife. It was also said that Bradley had accompanied Brown to court every day during a murder trial.

It soon became clear that Bradley was intent on getting Brown to marry her. Isabel blamed Bradley's "hypnotic influence" over her husband for his actions, saying she had repeatedly urged him to divorce her. "Tear up your Brigham Street home," Bradley demanded in one letter produced by Isabel. "I am sick and tired of your dallying. The longer madame stays there the more strongly entrenched is the enemy. You haven't the courage to strike the blow you promised me to strike." Isabel also produced a written statement she had taken from her husband after an incident in which he called her "my bitterest enemy" and vowed to get a divorce. She said he had sent her a letter giving over their house to her and asking that the possessions by divided up according to ownership.

Brown disputed the claims when Isabel tried to get a settlement. Isabel said that Brown owned property in Utah, Idaho, Michigan, and Missouri valued at $291,248, that he had already named Bradley as a beneficiary in his will, and that he would try to hide his assets. She said he made a respectable $1,000 a month from his legal practice, while she earned a mere five dollars a month renting property. She asked that she be given ownership of the house, as Brown had apparently done with his letter, as well as a monthly stipend of $370 for the rest of her life. She won the temporary alimony which Brown refused to pay. Meanwhile, Bradley threatened in October of 1903 to plead guilty to two adultery charges against her and thus take Brown with her to jail unless he finalized the divorce and married her. By this point, she felt Brown had made peace with his wife, but also claimed that Brown had begged her not to enter the plea and promised he would get a divorce. Bradley pleaded anyway, but Brown managed to argue that the charges against him should be quashed because his wife should not be able to testify. The court agreed, and Bradley went to jail as Brown went free.

The scandal gradually faded away, but the relationship between Brown and Bradley resurfaced dramatically on December 8, 1908 at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington, D.C. Brown had traveled to the city to represent the St. Louis Mining Company in a lawsuit against the Montana Mining Company. A maid heard two gunshots and rushed to get the manager, who found Brown sprawled out on the floor and Bradley standing nearby. "She shot me," Brown proclaimed simply. The manager performed initial treatment, namely giving Brown a stiff drink of brandy, and ordered Bradley to leave. "I will remain here," Bradley replied. "I am the mother of his two children."

Bradley was arrested as Brown was rushed to a hospital. He had been shot twice with a .38-caliber handgun, which the manager found in the room. One bullet had grazed his hand, and the other one ended up in his abdomen. The New York Times was optimistic, writing that the former Senator was in critical condition but recovering. The Pittsburgh Press immediately headlined their article by saying Brown had been shot "fatally." The assessment was premature, but turned out to be correct. Four days later, Brown died of kidney damage aggravated by the shooting. He was returned to Salt Lake City for burial.

Bradley proved surprisingly chatty in the days after the shooting, and spoke with the press on a few other occasions in the lead-up to her trial on a charge of murder. She caused a bit of a stir by calling up George Sutherland, a Republican Senator from Utah, after the shooting but said she simply knew him from her days in the newspaper business. She said two of her four children had been fathered by Brown, and that she wanted him to marry her to make them legitimate.

When Brown went to Washington, Bradley thought the nation's capital would provide a nice place for a quiet wedding away from Utah. Brown had thought to send Bradley to the other half of the country; before he left, he bought her a railroad ticket to California. She exchanged it in order to go to Washington, found out where Brown was staying, and took a room. She later confronted Brown in his quarters, and found that he had several letters in his room from Annie C. Adams, the mother of a famous Utah actress. Bradley said she she demanded a marriage, and that Brown had started to walk out. Enraged, she had opened fire.

Bradley was met with a fair amount of sympathy. Brown refused to speak to prosecutors before he died, and the hospital superintendent said he had promised not to press charges if he recovered; one of Brown's sons insisted that a a criminal trial take place, saying it was what his father would have wanted. Adams confirmed that she and Brown had gotten engaged, and that he hoped to make an amicable break with his mistress. Despite the fact that Bradley had taken the life of her future husband, Adams harbored no hatred toward her. "If I could have seen her I am sure I could have prevented this terrible thing from happening," said Adams. "I never met her in my life, but I have a good deal of sympathy with her. I am sure now that she realizes what a terrible mistake she has made." Public opinion of Brown took another dive when it was found that he had explicitly excluded Bradley and the two children she claimed were his from his will. "That man heaped such indignities upon me that, disgraced, robbed of everything a woman holds dear in this world, and refused amends, there was nothing left for me to do but kill him, to wipe out the stain of shame and disgrace he had placed on my life," Bradley said a few weeks before her trial began in November of 1907.

With such open admissions, Bradley's lawyers could only hope for acquittal on a technicality. At first, they said they would argue that the killing was justified under "unwritten law." They settled on the argument that Brown's persistent mistreatment of Bradley had led to pent-up emotions and finally an outburst of homicidal insanity after the snub at the hotel. Brown, they said, was essentially responsible for his own death by triggering these emotions.

Prosecutors contended that Brown's death had been premeditated, and that Bradley had made the trip to Washington with the intent of committing murder. The trial ended up turning into an indictment of Brown's character. Bradley said Brown had been a heavy drinker, and their relationship had suffered for it. They argued frequently, and on one occasion she knocked several of his teeth out with an umbrella. She testified that Brown had strung her along with empty promises of marriage. Isabel died in August of 1905, and Bradley had divorced her husband and pushed hard for matrimony since her passing. She said Brown promised in June of 1906 to marry her, and had made another reassurance as late as October of that year. Some jurors teared up at her words. A doctor who took the stand expressed such contempt for Brown that the judge rebuked him.

The trial also introduced letters exchanged between Brown and Bradley, wherein Brown referred to her with terms of endearment such as "little mint julep." In the correspondence, Bradley berated Brown for seeing "that actress" and frequently insisted on seeing him, points which prosecutors said bolstered their argument for premeditation. The judge instructed the jury to find Bradley not guilty by reason of insanity if they determined that she was not capable of understanding her actions or distinguishing between right and wrong. He gave the caveat that if the shooting was "inflamed by rage, jealousy, revenge, or any other passion," it would reduce the severity of the crime but not fulfill the requirements of an insanity defense.

A single juror held out for a guilty verdict for some time, but eventually gave in. Thus acquitted, Bradley returned to the West to live with her sister in Nevada. In an unfortunate epilogue, the son whom Bradley claimed was Brown's and carried his name also inherited his mother's homicidal tendencies. In 1915, he stabbed Bradley's other son to death during a trip in Nevada. The dispute started over the question of who would cook and who would wash the dishes. Bradley herself held a variety of jobs before opening an antique store. She died in November of 1950.

Sources: The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Utah History To Go, "Utah's Senators Named" in the New York Times on Jan. 16 1896, "Brown May Lose Senatorship" in the New York Times on Jan. 17 1896, "Utah Ex-Senator Sues For Divorce" in the New York Times on Sep. 29 1902, "Lawyer Brown Under Arrest" in the Deseret News on Sep. 29 1902, "Suit Against Arthur Brown" in the Deseret News in Nov. 20 1902, "Ex-Senator Sent To Jail" in the New York Times on Feb. 6 1903, "Brown Will Appeal The Case" in the Deseret News on Feb. 28 1903, "Mrs. Bradley Makes Threat" in the Quebec Daily Mercury on Oct. 1 1903, "Local Briefs" in the Deseret News on Nov. 12 1903, "Ex-Senator Shot By A Woman At Capital" in the New York Times on Dec. 9 1906, "First Wife Shot At Brown" in the New York Times on Dec. 9 1906, "Woman Fatally Shoots Former Utah Senator" in the Pittsburgh Press on Dec. 9 1906, "Senator Brown Dead" in the Lewiston Saturday Journal on Dec. 13 1906, "Arthur Brown Claimed By Death" in the Deseret News on Dec. 13 1906, "Mrs. Adams Was Engaged" in the New York Times on Dec. 16 1906, "Mrs. Bradley Is Not Surprised" in the Pittsburgh Press on Dec. 23 1906, "Mrs. Bradley Tells Why She Shot Brown" in the Arizona Journal-Miner on Nov. 7 1907, "Mrs. Bradley's Tale Makes Jury Weep" in the New York Times on Nov. 20 1907, "Knocked Out Teeth" in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on Nov. 21 1907, "Bradley Defense Rests" in the New York Times on Nov. 27 1907, "Emotional Appeals To Bradley Jurors" in the New York Times on Dec. 1 1907, "Mrs. Bradley Not Guilty" in the Reading Eagle on Dec. 3 1907, Maude Adams: Idol of American Theater 1872-1953 by Armond Fields