Portrait of Frederick W. Brune

Portrait of Frederick W. Brune

Frederick W. Brune


Frederick W. Brune was one of the most prominent merchants in Baltimore's history. Brune immigrated to Baltimore from Bremen in 1799 and worked as a partner in the merchant house of Von Kapff & Brune, which was later renamed F.W. Brune & Sons.


Frederick W. Brune (born May 23, 1776 in the Free Imperial City of Bremen; died November 9, 1860 in Baltimore, MD) was one of the most prominent merchants in Baltimore's history. Brune immigrated to Baltimore from Bremen in 1799 at the age of twenty-three. He worked as a partner in the merchant house of Von Kapff & Brune, which was initially founded in 1795. The firm was later renamed F.W. Brune & Sons after his original partner, Bernard Von Kapff, passed away in 1828. Brune is often credited for opening the very lucrative trade partnership between Baltimore and his native city of Bremen.[1] This connection solidified and grew over many decades. Due to this trade connection, German immigration to Baltimore dramatically increased. Brune was also responsible for opening trade with many of the newly liberated South American countries in the early nineteenth century. By the end of his life, he had conducted business throughout the world.[2]

Brune was very civic minded and did much to support his adopted hometown and its residents. In 1817, he was a prominent founding member of the new German Society of Maryland, which gave aid to German immigrants.[3] Over the course of Brune's life, Baltimore's population grew from 30,000 to more than 200,000. Brune is credited as one of the individuals who made this growth possible.[4] He also served as an officer of the city's first Chamber of Commerce and as a director of the Baltimore branch of the Second United States Bank from 1819 until its charter was terminated by President Andrew Jackson. Brune was a director of the Merchants' Bank and a founding member of both the Savings Bank of Baltimore and the Equitable Fire Insurance Company. He was also heavily invested in the Turnpike Road Company, which created all-weather roads that simplified travel in the region.[5] Brune embraced the United States and its culture but never forgot his German heritage.[6] He became one of the most successful men in the city and was the patriarch of a prominent Baltimore family. He used the connections he had made during his early years in Bremen to settle successfully in a faraway city and prosper, becoming a major contributor to the economic growth of Baltimore in the process.

Early Life and Immigration to the United States

Frederick William Brune was born in the Free Imperial City of Bremen, one of a number of free cities that was part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time. (After the Holy Roman Empire collapsed in 1806, Bremen became the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.) Little is known about Brune’s family background. He was likely born into a Lutheran household and was educated in the mercantile trade at the counting house belonging to the brother of his future business partner, Bernard von Kapff (1817-1828).[7] Brune was fluent in German, French, and English by the time he arrived in the United States.[8]

It is unclear why in 1799, at the age of twenty-three, Brune left a seemingly stable life in Bremen for the United States, but it was likely related both to political unrest in Europe and potential economic opportunities in the U.S. Brune had intended to settle in New York because that was where his brother was based.[9] When he left Europe for New York in 1799 he brought with him a cargo of linens from his German contacts in Bremen, which he intended to use as stock to establish his own mercantile business. Before Brune could carry out his plans to found a business in New York, though, three prominent Baltimore mercantile houses, Smith & Buchanan, Valck & Co., and Focke & Co., requested that he come to Baltimore to oversee the business of Von Kapff & Anspach, a Baltimore mercantile house that was left without leadership when Henry N. Anspach, one of the partners of the company died suddenly on June 20, 1799, while his partner, Bernard J. von Kapff, was traveling in Europe on business. Von Kapff, only seven years Brune’s senior, had emigrated from Bremen in 1794 and had founded a firm in Baltimore the following year that imported linens and exported tobacco. When he arrived in Baltimore, von Kapff had taken Henry Anspach as a partner in 1797, but had not authorized an attorney, or designated anyone other than his partner, to conduct business in his absence.[10] It’s highly probable that Brune knew Bernard von Kapff personally due to his employment in the counting house of von Kapff’s brother in Bremen and Brune’s plan to settle in New York may also have been conveyed to von Kapff’s firm in Baltimore. This is likely why Brune was approached by the three mercantile houses to manage von Kapff’s firm in his absence. The merchants that brought Brune to Baltimore promised to vouch for and guarantee any business decisions he made during the interim period. This turned out to be unnecessary because upon von Kapff’s return from Europe, he not only confirmed all of Brune’s decisions but also made him his new partner, renaming the business Von Kapff, Anspach & Brune.[11]

Family and Personal Life

In Baltimore, Brune was supported initially by two groups, the merchants who had invited him to the city from New York and the established German immigrant community in the city. Soon after he arrived in Baltimore, Brune joined the Zion Lutheran Church. The congregation had been founded by Germans residents of Baltimore in 1755.[12] Services at Zion were conducted in German which meant that it was a focal point of the early German community in the city.[13] Brune was an active member of Zion during his early years in Baltimore and he continued to support the congregation financially as he became more prosperous. He donated a substantial sum towards the construction of a new church building, which was dedicated in 1808.[14]

Though Brune never forgot his German roots, he was not constrained by them either. As he became more successful, he adopted an upper-class, “Americanized” lifestyle. This was likely due, in part, to von Kapff’s influence.[15] An undated letter highlights how deeply both men had assimilated into American culture. The routine note between the two German immigrants about scheduling a lunch date was written in English rather than in their native language.[16]

Brune gradually became part of the Baltimore social elite and formed lifelong friendships and relationships with other prosperous merchants in the city. On September 28, 1805, Brune married Anne Clarke (1780-1859), daughter of Ambrose Clark, who had emigrated with his then seven-year-old daughter from Dublin in 1787 and had become a prosperous Baltimore merchant by trading with the West Indies and Europe.[17] Rev. Dr. Bend of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church (now generally referred to as “Old Saint Paul's”) officiated at the wedding.[18] Anne Clarke appears to have been a member of the Episcopal Church because her new husband joined the congregation upon, or soon after, the wedding.[19] At least four of their children were baptized at St. Paul's. Brune's son, Frederick W. Brune II, was known as a devout member of the Episcopal Church during his life. Brune himself is buried at Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in a plot next to many members of the Clarke family.[20]

By all accounts, Frederick and Anne’s marriage was a happy one. Later chroniclers described Anne Clarke Brune as “a lady of great excellence and strength of character.”[21] The couple had seven children. Six grew into adulthood and one died very young: Ellen A. Brune (1807-1852), Anne (Nancy) Henrietta [Brune] Shattuck (1809-1895), Ambrose Frederick Brune (1810-1812), Frederick William Brune II (1813-1878), John Christian Brune (1814-1864), Clara Marie [Brune] Brown (1817-1919) and William H. Brune (1820-1887).[22] Frederick W. Brune II became a prominent Baltimore lawyer. His law partner, George W. Brown, married Clara Marie Brune. John Christian Brune and William Henry Brune later became partners in their father's business, F.W. Brune & Sons. The Brunes formed part of the small group of wealthy German-Americans in Baltimore who “allied themselves with the old Baltimore families, rode to hounds, danced at balls, had their daughters formally introduced to society at the cotillion and otherwise adopted the mores of the English-speaking group.”[23]

It is clear that Brune became an American citizen, likely prior to the War of 1812, even though the exact date is not known.[24] His citizenship is confirmed by his summons for jury duty in 1822, his work for the Baltimore branch of the Second Bank of the United States between 1819 and 1836, and his service as an officer of Baltimore’s first chamber of commerce in 1820.[25] In 1848 he even endorsed presidential candidate Zachary Taylor in print.[26]

Brune also came to identify with Anglo-southern culture as he assimilated into Baltimore’s upper-class society. In a June 9, 1827, letter to his son, F. W. Brune II, who at the time was studying at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and who shared his father’s southern sentiments, Brune asks if Brune II’s younger brother, John, also at Harvard, had “become accustomed to Yankee manner, [and] Customs.”[27]

Frederick Brune also deeply identified with his adopted home city of Baltimore. In the same June 9, 1827, letter to his son, Brune writes the following anecdote, which is his only known first-hand statement about his relationship with his adopted city:

Our city has been honored by a visit from the “Washington Guards,” a company of soldiers from the city of Washington; they were very fine looking men generally, with very pretty uniforms, but in my humble opinion are not as handsome as some of our own, though perhaps I may be wrong for, as you know, I am a great stickler for Baltimore, and everything that belongs to it.[28]

Brune became well established and influential within the community and was comfortable with his status as the founding patriarch of a German-Irish-American family. He initially lived at 131 Hanover Street, and later moved to 73 North Calvert Street. Both addresses are in the inner harbor district, which in the nineteenth century, just as today, formed the heart of downtown Baltimore.[29] Like other wealthy merchants Brune also had a country house, a sign of class and status, in the Baltimore suburb of Franklin, where the family would live during the summer to get away from the bustle of the city.[30]

Brune’s identification as a southerner was expressed very concretely by the fact that he owned slaves. It is uncertain when Brune first became a slave owner, but it may have been through his connection with his father-in-law, Ambrose Clarke, who also owned slaves. There are records showing that Clarke hired out his slaves as day laborers in the city.[31] The first known evidence of Brune as a slave owner appears in the 1810 census. Entries in the 1820 and 1830 censuses also show that the Brune household included slaves (three slaves in 1810, two slaves in 1820, one slave in 1830), while the 1840 census makes note of “4 Free Colored Persons, and 0 Slaves.”[32]

While Brune's views on slavery are not clear, his evident shift from slave owner to employer of “Free Colored Persons,” may be related the views and actions of his son. Frederick W. Brune II became a prominent lawyer and partner in the Baltimore law firm Brown & Brune.[33] Brune II's law partner, who was also Brune I's son-in-law, George W. Brown, was elected mayor of Baltimore just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Brown wrote in his postwar memoir that he and Brune II (as well a number of others), while not abolitionists, “were preparing to initiate a movement tending to a gradual emancipation within the state….”[34] From the evidence in the census data, it is possible that Brune I shared the same view on slavery as his son and son-in-law.

Little is known about Brune's personal tastes and habits.[35] He seems to have been fully engaged in his business affairs, so much so that he casually mentioned in one letter that he had been so busy that he had been unable to go to the theater.[36] He was, however, active in a number of civic organizations and supported the arts and artists. Brune was a member of the American Art Union, which sought to give wider access to great works of art through engravings and exhibits. Members aimed to be both art collectors and conduits for the public to have greater access to art.[37] In 1840, the ornithologist and painter John James Audubon while on a trip to Baltimore to sell copies of the newest edition of his Birds of America book mentioned in a letter that “Mess. Meckle, Oldfield and the Brune family have all assisted me in the most kind and brotherly manner, indeed I may say that my success is mostly derived from these excellent persons.”[38]

In 1817 Brune served as a founding member of the reconstituted German Society of Maryland and in 1844 he was a founding member of the Maryland Historical Society.[39] Taking Brune by his own word, he loved learning and being able to share his learning. In a letter to his sons at Harvard, he wrote: “You know my maxim that you cannot learn too much” (emphasis in original).[40] He seems to have been a man who while driven and successful, appreciated the world around him and worked to improve the lives of others through his civic and philanthropic endeavors. Yet, he was mindful of his past and never hid his German heritage.[41]

Early Business

Despite Brune’s business success in 1799, first as Von Kapff & Anspach’s interim manager and then as a partner at Van Kapff, Anspach & Brune, at the end of his life he considered the year of his arrival in Baltimore “by far the most disastrous to the commerce of the city.”[42] His judgment had less to do with the trade disruptions that resulted from the growing conflicts in Europe related to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France, but rather referred to a chain reaction that began when commodities markets in the trading port of Hamburg became glutted and prices for products like coffee and sugar collapsed. Hamburg banks could not stem the collapse, which led to a series of bankruptcies among trading houses in Hamburg, Bremen, and overseas. The loss of these firms reduced Brune’s trading opportunities with businesses that he had known before his departure from Europe. [43] Despite the loss of potential business partners in Bremen, Brune prospered and persevered in Baltimore.[44]

In 1803 Von Kapff, Anspach & Brune officially became Van Kapff & Brune. Over the course of the first ten years of the nineteenth century, Von Kapff & Brune continued to grow and establish itself as a major mercantile firm in Baltimore. Their main import continued to be German linens, but they also imported items such as glass, lead, toys, wine, copper, fishing twine, rice, cheese, quills, paint, and sarsaparilla.[45] They exported crops like grain, cotton, and tobacco, and South American goods like sugar and coffee.[46] They also expanded their import-export operations in 1802 by becoming ship owners.[47]

The company’s success enriched the partners, but the growing commercial influence of Von Kapff & Brune also led to the development of other industries in Baltimore. Insurance companies rose to insure ships and goods. Local farms increased production of raw materials for export. Later, Baltimore’s shipbuilding industry expanded when the company began commissioning the construction of ships locally — all positive developments for the growing city's economy.[48]

Early in the nineteenth century Brune also became involved in other business ventures. Beginning in 1810, Brune served as manager of the Baltimore and York Town Turnpike Road Company, a position he held for many years. The road, authorized in 1787, connected Baltimore and York, Pennsylvania, and was a key component to the long-term economic growth in Baltimore as it provided an important early thoroughfare between the Pennsylvania interior and the port.[49] The company was in charge of building and maintaining a large section of this overland travel-way through the Baltimore area.[50] During this period Brune also formed an additional successful business partnership with another Baltimore merchant, C.H. Dannemann, under the name Brune & Dannemann, which lasted until Danneman's death in 1829.[51] Brune's two merchant houses were classified differently. Von Kapff & Brune were classified as “General Merchants,” which meant they owned the goods that they sold. Brune & Dannemann were classified as “Commission Merchants,” which meant they sold goods as a proxy for someone else, a farmer for instance, and retained a portion of the profit as a commission fee.[52]

Brune began to attract international attention within the first decade of his business career in Baltimore. In 1809 the new, liberal, and reform-minded King Frederick VI of Denmark, named “Frederick W. Brune Esq….as Vice-Consul from his Danish Majesty for the State of Maryland,” a position in which Brune served for a time.[53] This post, which President James Madison personally affirmed, was an honor for Brune, for it meant he was an officially recognized representative of a foreign head of state only ten years after establishing himself in Baltimore.

Von Kapff & Brune’s trans-Atlantic trading activities with Europe faced significant challenges during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. War between England and Napoleonic France affected nearly every state in Western Europe. Both England and France sought to prevent third parties from trading with the other state, which made multinational trade across the Atlantic very difficult. The French commissioned privateers to raid trans-Atlantic commerce bound for England. The state-sanctioned pirates boarded trade ships and took cargo with the excuse that those ships were on their way to “supply” Britain and her allies. The issue of piracy would continue to pose a problem throughout Brune's business career. The William A. Tucker was the first known instance of a ship owned by Von Kapff & Brune being taken by privateers. When the ship was seeking shelter from a storm on the River Elbe in 1807, it was boarded by French privateers. Even though the ship itself was spared, Von Kapff & Brune made a loss claim of $11,956.60 (approximately $241,000 in 2011$) for the cargo.[54] Brune was not able to recoup this loss until years later after an 1831 treaty with France settled such matters.[55] More disastrous was the loss of the Eleanor in 1809, a ship built and originally owned by Ambrose Clarke, Brune's father-in-law.[56] This schooner, which had left Baltimore for San Sebastian, Spain, was taken by French privateers. More than $25,000 (approximately $472,000 in 2011$) worth of goods were taken and the ship itself was condemned and sold in France. Again, Brune was not able to recoup this loss until the early 1830s.[57]

French privateers were only one danger for American shipping. Impressment by the British Navy was another threat. The British would stop a ship, regardless of flag, and board it, ostensibly to look for British deserter sailors. On numerous occasions, they stopped American vessels and impressed American citizens, claiming they were British. On June 27, 1810, the Von Kapff & Brune-owned Strafford was stopped and at least two sailors were first severely beaten and then taken onto the British warship Pincher for more than two months before they could escape.[58]

Just before the outbreak of the War of 1812, Von Kapff & Brune found themselves in the middle of an international scandal involving Henri Christophe, the King of Haiti. Christophe (also known as Henry Christopher) was a former slave who had come to power in the 1791 Haitian Revolution. In 1811, Haiti split in two states. The north was ruled by Christophe as a kingdom, and the south was governed by Alexandre Pétion as a republic. The United States did not formally recognize the independence of Haiti because such recognition would validate a slave rebellion. In contrast, merchants like Von Kapff & Brune had no issue trading with Haiti.[59] In 1810, Christophe sent $124,955.19 (approximately $2.4 million dollars in 2011$) worth of coffee to Von Kapff & Brune so that they would commission and build a warship for him.[60] Von Kapff & Brune accepted the contract, but once completed, the warship, which officially belonged to Christophe, was held by the local courts as collateral until previous monetary claims against Christophe could be cleared.[61] Christophe came to believe that he had been “swindled” by Von Kapff & Brune.[62] On January 3, 1811, in retribution, he confiscated more than $130,000 from American merchants who were in Haiti at the time, which in his mind compensated for the $124,000 taken from him plus interest.[63] He declared that if any merchant took issue with this seizure, they should seek remuneration from Von Kapff & Brune.[64]

When news of Christophe’s “General Order” arrived in the United States there was immediate outrage.[65] The New York Herald, responded that this was “after the site and manner of Bonaparte's villainous decrees. The same system of robbery, it would seem, has been commenced by the negroes in the West Indies upon our Merchants, as has been carried on in France for two or three years past.”[66]

Upon hearing of Christophe's initial accusation, Von Kapff & Brune immediately published a defense in newspapers across America:

Having noticed in the American of yesterday a publication purporting to be of Henry Christophe's, President of Hayti [sic.], wherein our name is mentioned: In order to prevent any unfavorable impression which might arise from that statement, and which is not admitted to be true: we have but to observe, that we now are, as we always have been, ready and able to discharge any just claims which anybody may have against us.

The editors of the American are correct in their introductory remarks, at to the pendency of suits against said Henry Christophe. By reference to the record of Baltimore county Court, it will be perceived that the subscribers as garnishes of President Christophe have been harassed by a variety of attachments predicated upon supposed claims, arising from both anterior and subsequent to the seizures of American property by him made, as by him stated in his publication.


February 1,1811.[67]

In the end, Von Kapff & Brune were not negatively affected by the scandal.[68] The completed warship was eventually released into their control. This happened to coincide with the outbreak of war with Britain. The war cut off many of Von Kapff & Brune’s trade routes, but a new opportunity for profit arose when the American government began commissioning privateers to attack British shipping, since the American Navy was no match for the British Navy. This enabled Von Kapff & Brune to outfit their warship, hire a crew, and send it out on patrol. This ship was eventually taken by the British off the coast of France.[69]

During the War of 1812, the British blockaded major American trade cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore beginning in 1813, which deeply hurt the U.S. economically. Instead of blockading Baltimore directly, the British attempted to blockade the entire mouth of the Chesapeake. While this was effective in interrupting Baltimore’s international trade, as well as the trade and industry of all the urban centers that relied on the Chesapeake, it was not completely effective, and a number of ships were able to make it through the Chesapeake blockade.[70] Later in the war, the British attempted to stage an amphibious landing and sack Baltimore. Brune’s location during the Battle of Baltimore (September 12-15, 1814) in which the British bombarded Fort McHenry and attempted to land troops in the city, is unknown. Brune's office and residence were in the heart of the city and he worked at the harbor where his ships were docked at Bowley's Wharf. It seems most likely that Brune took his family to his country house in Franklin during the battle. [71]

Partly for patriotic reasons and partly in response to the British trade blockade, Baltimore merchants banded together as a bloc and aided the war effort by commissioning and supplying privateering vessels in the fight against the British Navy.[72] In Baltimore, this effort was centered on merchant Henry Diedier Jr, who, as von Kapff's father-in-law, had a familial relation to Von Kapff & Brune.[73] Throughout the war, B.J. von Kapff and F.W. Brune were substantial investors and part owners of a number of privateering vessels, among them, the Harrison, the Hannibal, the Leonidas, the Vidette, the Saranac, and the Warren. Von Kapff and Brune, in each case, were listed as individual private investors, but both always invested in the same vessels.[74] At one point during the war, the Von Kapff & Brune firm bought a ship, the Clarendon, which had been captured by a Philadelphia privateer for $27,135 (approximately $400,000 in 2011$). They also bought another ship, the Star, for $28,000.[75] Over the course of the war B.J. von Kapff and F.W. Brune were investors in at least ten ship commissions (individually or as part of their firm).[76] One privilege of owning a ship was that the owner contractually had the authority to tell the captain to sail to whichever place the owner believed the ship might have the most impact. Brune, as part owner, would have had a say in where to send the ships during the war. As the war dragged and captains became more experienced often they were given more freedom to sail as they saw fit. This was the case with the Saranac late in the war, a vessel in which both von Kapff and Brune had invested.

Investments by Baltimore mercantile firms such as Von Kapff & Brune in privateering during the War of 1812 allowed them to stay profitable despite the general decline in trade. In addition, Von Kapff & Brune profited by supplying privateering vessels with necessary items, such as French muskets and sail duck, the canvas used to make ship sails.[77] B.J. von Kapff and F.W. Brune each made about $93,000 from their investments in their privateering vessels during the war. However, this was much less than the company’s typical profits during a “thirty month period of shipping activity.”[78] Clearly, privateering missions “were not satisfactory replacements for their peace time business.”[79] At war's end, they were happy to cease funding privateering vessels and begin reestablishing their trade networks, especially in the German states.

Civic Activity

Von Kapff & Brune’s business relations with the city of Bremen were central for their successful operations. Bremen and Baltimore had developed into major trade partners in the early nineteenth century. Baltimore sent grain and tobacco to Bremen in return for manufactured goods and linens. German immigrants followed the flow of goods from Bremen to Baltimore.[80] Beginning in 1815 with the conclusion of the War of 1812, there was a significant spike in German immigration. In the thirty years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, 200,000 immigrants landed in Baltimore, a significant percentage of them from the German states.[81]

In 1783, the German Society of Maryland was founded with the aim of helping German immigrants establish themselves in the United States.[82] In the immediate wake of American independence, however, immigration rates declined and the society was no longer active. This changed in February 1817, when the Juffrow Johanna sailed up the Chesapeake Bay.[83]

The sailing ship with 300 German men, women, and children on board arrived in Annapolis after a difficult, fifteen-week, winter voyage across the Atlantic from Amsterdam. Another six weeks of icy conditions passed before the ship finally reached Baltimore. Numerous Germans on the vessel had signed work contracts in exchange for their passage (“redemptioners”) and had to remain aboard until their indentures were purchased and their debts settled with the ship’s crew. The winter that year was particularly harsh and it took until April for all of the contracts to be sold. Though not a unique situation, stories of the conditions on the ship caused outrage in the community. As word spread, many Germans in Baltimore came together to see if they could do something to assist the newly arrived immigrants. Private citizens began running advertisements in newspapers seeking help and employment for those on the ship.[84] On February 13, 1817 the old German Society was officially re-founded, with Frederick W. Brune among its prominent founding members. B.J. von Kapff served as a vice-president of the society from 1817 until 1822. F.W. Brune replaced von Kapff as a vice-president of the society in 1822 and remained in office until 1860.[85]

The German Society’s mission was “The protection and assistance of poor emigrants from Germany and Switzerland and their descendants who may reside in the state of Maryland or be temporarily sojourning therein.”[86] The new German Society used the influence of members like Brune to personally help new immigrants and was also able to gain the support of the Maryland Legislature. The Society persuaded the legislature to enact laws that protected these new immigrants. Because of the Society, immigrants were given rights they previously did not have. It was mandated that no contract could be longer than four years, that immigrants could be detained on ships no longer than thirty days, and that any redemptioner under twenty-one was guaranteed at least two months of school education a year.[87] There are even examples of the German Society winning court cases for indentured servants due to mistreatment by those who owned their contracts.[88] Because the German Society convinced the government to begin regulating immigration, it is also during this period that the first real immigration statistics appeared.[89] In protecting the rights of incoming Germans, the German Society obtained more rights for all incoming immigrants to Maryland. The German Society worked to educate and protect immigrants and later had a great reputation for finding new German settlers jobs around the state quickly. In 1841, the German Society was able to convince the legislature to pass a law mandating that Germans who were brought to court, but did not know English, would be provided with an interpreter. In 1846, the first year the German Society tried actively to get German immigrants jobs, it found work for 3,500 individuals.[90] Brune was one of the prominent leaders of the society until his death in 1860, and would have had a hand in making all of these achievements possible.

As Brune became more successful, and began expanding his business ventures, others in the Baltimore business community noticed his ability to make money and good investments. Brune was invited to serve on various management boards around the city. He was also appointed as a director of a local Baltimore bank, the Savings Bank of the Baltimore, which he helped found in the late 1810s.[91]

In 1819, at the beginning of a severe, four-year economic recession triggered by a financial panic, Brune was appointed as one of the directors of Baltimore branch of the Second National Bank of the United States.[92] He continued to work for the Baltimore branch for seventeen years until the Second National Bank was shut down by President Andrew Jackson.[93] The Baltimore branch of the Second National Bank transferred its business to the Merchants' Bank, a local institution.[94] When the Merchants' Bank in Baltimore took over for the Bank of the United States, Brune became a director of that bank. He continued in that capacity until his death in 1860.[95]

Also, in the wake of the 1819 financial panic, prominent merchants came together in 1820 and formed the city's first Chamber of Commerce. Brune was a founding officer, and held a position on the Chamber of Commerce for a number of years.[96]

Late Career

During the first half of the nineteenth century, trade opportunities continued to expand for Von Kapff & Brune. Many South American states became independent during the 1820s, and Von Kapff & Brune did not hesitate to establish commercial contacts and initiate trade with these new states.[97] Though this new avenue of business was prosperous, there were stumbling blocks. During 1825, a brief financial panic triggered a stock market crash in England due to speculative investments in Latin America.[98] This crash hit England hard, causing six London banks to close. This, in turn, hurt the U.S. economy, but again Von Kapff & Brune were able to weather the difficult time.[99] During this period, Brune was also a founding member of the Equitable Fire Insurance Company.[100] The main purpose of this company was to help its clients rebuild their homes or offices in the event of a fire.

By the late 1820s, Brune was a wealthy, respected, and highly-successful businessman, but he had also become part of an older generation of merchants. This reality must have rung especially true when his partner of more than a quarter of a century died in 1828 at the age of fifty-eight.[101] For several years the firm kept the Von Kapff name.[102] Later, shipments were recorded as being sold to “F.W. Brune.”[103] In 1836, the company was officially reorganized as F.W. Brune & Son.[104] Brune brought two of his sons, John Christian and William Henry, into his business and made them nominal partners. Brune was the senior partner with a half share in the business, John had a one-third share and William a one-sixth share.[105] Since William was not yet of age, he was treated as a junior partner in the firm. This changed on January 1, 1844, when William at age twenty-three was made a full partner and the company was officially renamed F.W. Brune & Sons.[106]

During this period of generational transition the company continued to earn a profit, even surviving the difficult year of 1837 when many banks and businesses failed nationwide due to an economic panic.[107] In May 1837, New York banks began requiring loan payment to be made in specie, physical gold or silver coins, not trusting bank notes issued by various private banks due to currency inflation and rampant speculation. This led to a major financial panic, in which many banks failed and many people lost their jobs. The panic resulted in a national depression that lasted five years. F.W. Brune & Sons’ longevity and standing within the Baltimore community may have helped the mercantile house weather the uncertain times that caused other businesses to fail. The firm’s reputation in Baltimore was evident on the occasion of the launching of one of their new ships in 1844, which was celebrated as a community event. The Letitia, a three-hundred-ton ship, had been built for F.W. Brune & Sons by the shipyard of “Messrs. Caleb Goodwin and Co., on Fells Point” and as reported by the Baltimore Sun, “was a beautiful one, and [the launching] was witnessed by thousands, and among the rest, by a large number of ladies,” all in a festive atmosphere.[108]

F.W. Brune & Sons expanded its trading networks to increasingly distant parts of the world, in part because John Brune, as a young man, had sailed on many of the company’s ships and built personal relationships with merchants in South America and the Caribbean.[109] The Brune trade networks, during this period, extended as far as India and China.[110] John Brune recognized the importance of sugar as a trade good and capitalized on his foresight when he founded the Maryland Sugar Refinery in 1852.[111] As a result, sugar and molasses became valuable trade commodities for the firm.

The importance of the sugar trade for F.W. Brune & Sons is demonstrated by an 1848 court case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The suit was brought by F.W. Brune & Sons against William H. Marriott, the collector of duties for the city of Baltimore. At issue was whether the company had to pay U.S. duties on the value of the original purchase or on the value of the product it could actually sell. In this case, F.W. Brune & Sons had imported a large amount of sugar and molasses, some of which had been ruined due to contamination and moisture. Brune had paid the duties according to the original purchase “under protest.”[112] Subsequently he sought reimbursement of the duties proportionate to the product that could not be sold. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of Brune.[113] The case was appealed and heard in the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in 1850. The firm that represented F.W. Brune & Sons in the case of Brune v. Marriott in front of the Supreme Court was Brown & Brune, Brune's son and son-in-law's law firm.[114] The court ruled in favor of Brune and decided that, regardless of the amount listed on the invoice, duties could only be charged for goods that could actually be sold.

By the time this case was finally settled, Brune was seventy-four years old but it seems that he never went into retirement or semi-retirement. Frederick Brune died ten years later on November 9, 1860, at the age of 84, a year after the death of his wife Anne. In the 1860 census, filled out just months before his death, his personal information is listed thusly: “Frederick Brune, Age: 84, Sex: M, Value of Real Estate: 100,000, Value of Personal Estate: 100,000, Place of Birth: Bremen.”[115] While it is unclear if these numbers accurately reflected Brunes true wealth at the end of his life, it is clear he was one of Baltimore's wealthiest men, he owned multiple estates, and was one of the city's leading citizens.

Approximately a year before his 1860 death, Brune updated his will after “The recent death of my most very dearly beloved wife.”[116] In a first draft of the 1859 document he specified that his estate be split among his surviving children and his children’s’ families. He bequeathed his stock in the company to his sons, John and William, who were partners in the business. He also stated that if either John or William died before the other, $30,000 would be given to the family of the deceased son to help the “survivors.” Brune provided a thousand dollars to be divided among his “female relations” still in Bremen.[117] He also left a thousand dollars to his nephew, Frederick William Shattuck. In his deceased daughter Ellen's name, he gave two thousand dollars to the Boys School of Saint Paul's Parish and he noted that he had already given during his life an unspecified amount promised to the collage of St. James, “in this state,” in her name. Unsurprisingly, Brune's will also planned for various contingencies, naming two of his sons-in-law as executioners and trustees of his will if one (or more) of his sons died before he did.[118]

In 1860, Brune's company was the oldest German mercantile house still in business in Baltimore. F.W. Brune & Sons would likely have continued to be a prosperous mercantile house for many years after F.W. Brune’s death if not for the Civil War and the second and third generation’s declining interest in the core business. In 1861, John C. Brune was elected to the Maryland Legislature. He was the only member of the Baltimore delegation not detained when Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, and arrested openly secessionist members of the Maryland Legislature in an effort to keep the state from seceding. John Brune escaped arrest simply because he was late for the meeting and hence was not imprisoned. Since he was a southern sympathizer he went into hiding in Canada and the Caribbean. In 1864, toward the end of the Civil War John Brune caught a fever while at sea and died.[119] William continued to manage the firm but, over time, he placed less emphasis on international trade activities and more emphasis on the sugar refinery, which he officially took over after his brother's death.[120] He retired from the business in 1872 and later engaged in real estate work. William Brune died at age 67 in 1887.[121] Frederick W. Brune II continued to work as a prominent lawyer and died after collapsing while arguing a case in front of the State Circuit Court in 1878. Frederick Brune II had a son, Frederick Brune III, who also became a prominent lawyer and worked at Brown & Brune with two of Brown’s own sons. One of F.W. Brune III son's was F.W. Brune IV, who became a lawyer, a judge, and then a justice on the Maryland Supreme Court. There is a “Brune Room” at the University of Maryland named for him, where the papers of Justice Thurgood Marshall are held.


Frederick W. Brune I was an immigrant entrepreneur whose business had a major impact on the development and growth of the city of Baltimore. Though he started life in Bremen as a German-speaking Lutheran, by the end of his life he spoke primarily English, identified himself as a Baltimorean and an American, and belonged to the Episcopal Church. Yet, at the same time he never stopped embracing his own roots, as evidenced by his more than forty-year membership in, and thirty-eight-year vice-presidency of, the German Society of Maryland. This ability to change profoundly, yet not forget his heritage, was one of Brune's keys to success. Through his connection to Bremen and the contacts he made around the world, he had a direct hand in shaping Baltimore into a major port city. Brune was also an integral part of what made Baltimore such an important port of entry for the generation of German immigrants that arrived after him.

Brune was well equipped to take advantage of his personal and commercial connections in Bremen (and across the German states) to funnel German trade, and later immigrants, in the direction of Baltimore.[122] As early as 1790, nine years before his arrival in Baltimore, the United States had secured direct diplomatic relations with the Free Imperial City of Bremen (as well as Hamburg and Lübeck) and by 1827 a treaty granting a special trade relationship between the three cities and the United States had been ratified. These three cities were also the main ports for goods entering or exiting the German states in the nineteenth century. By 1830 Baltimore was the U.S.'s second city and would remain so until 1860. Brune, in codifying trade connections, and thus trade routes with Bremen, is in part directly responsible for this growth.

Brune secured a historical legacy within the Baltimore business community. He did so by earning and keeping the respect and admiration of the people around him through his hard work and honesty.[123] The city recognized Brune’s impact and influence. As early as the 1830s, Frederick Brune was honored by Baltimore city leaders with a street bearing his name, which still exists today.[124] In 1860, just before his death, a new vessel for transatlantic travel and trade was christened the F.W. Brune.[125] His obituary, which appeared in the Baltimore Sun, states: “throughout his long career he enjoyed an enviable reputation,” and he “was one of the most enterprising of our citizens.”[126] Brune was considered a Baltimorean and an American through and through. In a resolution passed at a meeting of the Corn Exchange four days after his death, members of the Exchange declared that “Brune was identified with the onward and upward progress of the city from its infancy… the name of Frederick W. Brune was synonymous with the upright merchant.”[127] As Brune's own son, Frederick W. Brune II, wrote in a biographical sketch about of his father, “he enjoyed the undisturbed respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens of all classes.” [128] Brune was not only a man of his age, but he helped shape the age in which he lived. Brune built local and international networks that facilitated trade between the Old World and the New. These networks helped transform him into a successful businessman, enabled Baltimore to become a successful trade and immigration port, and helped make the United States into a more diverse, connected, and powerful nation. Brune's life reflects the astounding accomplishments that could be achieved in a relatively short period of time by a dedicated immigrant entrepreneur.


[1] Dieter Cunz, The Maryland Germans: A History (New York: Kennikat Press, 1972), 159; Francis F. Beirne, The Amiable Baltimoreans (New York: Dutton, 1951), 204.

[2] George Washington Howard, The Monumental City: Its Past History and Present Resources Volumes 1-2 (Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers & Co., 1873), 521.

[3] Cunz, 199.

[4] Howard, 520.

[5] Ibid., 522.

[6] Beirne, 208.

[7] Brantz Mayer, “F.W. Brune & Sons,” in Baltimore: Past and Present, With Biographical Sketches of Its Representative Men (Baltimore: Richardson & Benneti, 1871), 207.

[8] Howard, 520. German was the language of his homeland; English was the language of his business; and French was the language of world trade at the time. In a November 8, 1827, letter to his sons Brune says he hopes that one day they “…have an opportunity and find leisure to acquire the French language.”

[9] Howard, 520; Mayer, 207. Very little is known about Brune's brother who settled in New York, but it is possible he was the “Brune” of the New York Merchant house Brune & Erich. This merchant house was in business prior to 1799. This Brune's name is also unclear. In a Death Announcement in the 14 May 1802 New York Evening Post, he is listed as I.D. Brune. In a 20 May 1802 Salem Register Death Notice he is listed as J. D. Brune. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, however, an “I” and a “J” were often written the same way by hand so it is likely that the confusion between the two letters made its way into print. Adding to the confusion over Brune's brother is an inscription in the Clarke family tomb citing a “John Lucas Brune who was born in Bremen, Germany October 17th, 1780, and died in this City [Baltimore] October 15th,1829.” Helen W. Ridgeley, “The Ancient Churchyard of Baltimore,” The Grafton Magazine of History and Genealogy, Vol 1, No. 4, (1909): 11. John L. Brune also advertized German Linens for sale in the 29 November 1810 Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette (a Baltimore newspaper), from “Von Kapp(sic) & Brune.” This Brune was certainly related to Frederick, as he sold through F.W. Brune's merchant house and is buried in F.W. Brune's wife's family tomb, but it is unclear if John ever lived in New York.

[10]Bernard von Kapff,” The Historical Marker Database (Last accessed March 1, 2012). The website has digitized the information on the plaque placed at von Kapff's tomb.

[11] Articles published in the Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser made this evolution make sense via primary evidence: April 13, 1796, an advertisement of the sale of various imports from Bremen by the firm of “B.J. Von Kapff;” May 4, 1797, a notice announcing that the firm “B.J. Von Kapff, will be continued by Von Kapff & Anspach;” December 28, 1798, an advertisement for Von Kapff an Anspach selling linens; June 20, 1799, announcing the sudden death of Henry N. Anspach; and June 22, 1799, an announcement stating that Von Kapff and Anspach are still in business, this is signed by members of Anspach's family and S. Smith & Buchanan, Valck & Co. and Focke & Co. It was at this time that Brune was contacted in New York by these very firms to take over Von Kapff's business until Von Kapff returned. On March 24, 1800, a notice is published announcing Von Kapff has returned from Europe and is now again in charge of the business. This notice is signed by F.W. Brune (one of the first sources in which Brune’s name is found). On July 5, 1800, there is a notice written by B.J. Von Kapff that the partnership between Anspach and Von Kapff officially expired on February 28, 1800. On November 11, 1800, there is an advertisement noting imported German Linens from “Von Kapff, Anspach & Brune.” Howard, 520; Mayer, 207.

[12] Zion Lutheran Church is the oldest German-American church in Baltimore and active to this day. Klaus G Wust, Zion In Baltimore 1755-1955: The Bicentennial History of the Earliest German-American Church in Baltimore Maryland (Baltimore: Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, 1955.), 39-41; Julius Hofmann, A History of Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, 1755-1897 (Baltimore: C.W. Schneidereith & Sons 1905), 34; Zions Church Website

[13] Cunz, 213-17. The children of these initial immigrants pushed to have services in English, the church resisted, and many of dissatisfied members of the congregation became members of other English churches, often not Lutheran at all. This may explain why Brune's eldest son, Frederick W. Brune II was not a Lutheran, but an Episcopalian. Though, more likely, F.W. Brune I himself converted upon his marriage to Anne Clarke. The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Maryland and District of Columbia (Baltimore: National Biographical Publishing Co., 1879), 11.

[14] This church building burned down in a fire in 1840. Wust, 41; Cunz, 182.

[15] Beirne, 208.

[16] Undated letter from Von Kapff to Brune, Maryland Historical Society, Ambrose Clarke-Von Kapff and Brune Shipping Papers, 1793-1829 MS 1754, Box 5.

[17] Ridgeley, “The Ancient Churchyard of Baltimore,” The Grafton Magazine, (1909),11; The Maryland Historical Society Introduction on the Philpot-Randall Family Papers 1726-1936, MS. 2816 (Last accessed March 1, 2012).

[18] Maryland Historical Society, Prominent Men Card Files, Frederick W. Brune.

[19] B.J. von Kapff, on the other hand, was Presbyterian. Jerome R. Garitee, The Republics Private Navy: The American Privateering Business as practiced by Baltimore during the War of 1812 (Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan University Press, 1977), 145.

[20] The Biographical Cyclopedia, 11. Christening of Elenor (sic) Ann Brune on December 12 1807; William Henry Brune March 8 1822; Christening of Ambrose Frederick Brune November 8 1811; Christening of Ann Henrietta Brune May 23 1809. All christened at “Saint Paul Protestant Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland.” Maryland, Births and Christenings Index, 1662-1911[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Maryland Births and Christenings, 1600–1995.” German Marylanders, (Last accessed March 1, 2012). Find a Grave, “F.W. Brune,” (Last accessed March 1, 2012). Unfortunately though it is known where Brune is buried (Plot 44 of Old St. Paul's Cemetery in Baltimore), the grave marker is no longer there. Yet, right next to the spot where he is it reported to be buried is the family grave of Ambrose Clarke. In this grave is also Brune's son who died in infancy, Ambrose Frederick Brune, and John Brune, who was likely F.W. Brune's brother but possibly a cousin, himself originally from Bremen.

[21] The Biographical Cyclopedia, 10.

[22] At the Ambrose Clarke family tomb there is an inscription of a “Grandchild Ambrose Frederick Brune, who was born December 19, 1810 and died October 13th, 1812.” Ridgeley, “The Ancient Churchyard of Baltimore,” The Grafton Magazine, (1909), 11 (Last accessed March 1, 2012).

[23] Beirne, 208.

[24] There is a naturalization form for a “Frederick William Brune” From “Germany,” living in “Baltimore, Md” but unhelpfully it bears no date. It is in a file with records from 1797-1951. Slightly dubious is that this document is written in printed script, while all of Brune’s other written documents are in cursive script. Also the place of origin is listed as “Germany,” not Bremen. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.;Indexes to Naturalization petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for Maryland, 1797-1951;MicrofilmSerial:M1168; MicrofilmRoll:2.

[25] Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, November 6, 1822; John Thomas Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 439.

[26] Baltimore Sun, March 11, 1848. Brune's name appears on a long list of individuals who endorsed Taylor. F.W. Brune II also appears on this list.

[27] Letter from F.W. Brune I to F.W. Brune II, June 9, 1827, Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 2. Letter dated June 9, 1827.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Baltimore Sun, May 5 1952, “Man in the Street: Frederick W. Brune.”

[30] Baltimore Sun, May 5 1952; Garitee, 75.

[31] Christopher Phillips, Freedoms Port: The African American Community of Baltimore 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1997), 22, 24, 75-76.

[32] In 1810, the Brune household consisted of nine individuals: 7 “Free White Persons” and 3 slaves. 1810 U.S. Census, Census Place: Western Precinct 3 Baltimore, Maryland, Roll 13: 381. In 1820 the Brune household consisted of 10 individuals: 8 “Free White Persons” and 2 slaves. 1820 U.S. Census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 6, Baltimore, Maryland, NARA Roll: M33_42, 317. In 1830 the Brune household consisted of 14 individuals: 10 “Free White Persons,” 3 “Free Colored Persons” (one, a male “100 and over”) and 1 slaves. 1830 U.S. Census, Census Place: Baltimore, Ward 6, Baltimore, Maryland, NARA Series: M19, Roll Number: 54, 261. In 1840 the Brune household consisted of 13 individuals: 9 “Free White Persons,” 4 “Free Colored Persons” and 0 slaves. 1840 U.S. Census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 7, Baltimore, Maryland, Roll 160, 21.

[33] Amazingly, Brown & Brune continues to exist to this day in the form of Niles, Barton & Wilmer LLP.

[34] George William Brown, Baltimore and the Nineteenth of April 1861 (Baltimore: N. Murray, 1887), 113.

[35] In 1952, a journalist for the Baltimore Sun lamented that “little has come down concerning his character.” Baltimore Sun, May 5, 1952.

[36] Letter from F.W. Brune I to F.W. Brune II, June 9, 1827, Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 2.

[37] Transactions of the American Art-Union, 1846. Brune became a member in 1845 and remained a member until the Art-Union was dissolved in 1851.

[38] Ruthven Deane, John James Audubon, “An Unpublished letter of John James Audubon to his Family,” The Auk, 25 (1908): 168.

[39] F.W. Brune I was a founding member, F.W. Brune II was on the founding committee. Constitution, By-laws, Charter, Circular and Members of the Maryland Historical Society (Baltimore: John Murphy, 1844), 17-18.

[40] Letter from F.W. Brune to F.W. Brune II and John Brune, November 8, 1827, Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 2.

[41] Brune would likely appreciate the fact that the majority of his surviving papers are now housed in the collections of the Maryland Historical Society.

[42] Mayer, 208. This year was more difficult than President Thomas Jefferson’s embargo on all foreign trade from 1807 until 1809, the War of 1812, and all nineteenth-century conflicts in Europe which would heavily impact different parts of his trade.

[43] Margit Schulte Beerbühl, “The Risk of Bankruptcy among German Merchants in Eighteenth-Century England” in History of Solvency and Bankruptcy form an International Perspective, ed. Karl Gratze and Dieter Stiefel. (Huddinge, Södertörns Högskola, 2008), 61-81.

[44] Brune’s firm was the only German merchant house in the city to survive not only the difficulties of 1799 but also other disastrous years, especially 1819, 1825, and 1837. By 1860, when Brune died, his company was the oldest German mercantile house still in business in Baltimore. Howard, 520.

[45] Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette, October 6, 1809; Baltimore Price-Current (January 7, 1804, November 6, 1806 and July 31, 1806).

[46] German Marylanders (Last accessed, March 1, 2012); Howard, 521; Greg H. Williams, The French Assault on American Shipping: 1793-1813: A History and Comprehensive Record of Merchant Marine Losses (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2009), 124.

[47] Howard, 521: Mayer, 207. The name of the first ship they bought is unclear. In the Baltimore newspaper, the Republican on June, 4, 1802, there is a ship listing: “Also, Brig Viper, captain Frazier, 13 days from C. Francois—coffee Von Kapff, Anspach & Brune.” However, it is unclear if the firm owned the Viper, or simply had commissioned it as they had many ships before, like the Theodora. The Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, March, 6, 1801.

[48] Cunz, 159, 203-204.

[49]A History of Road Building in Maryland, (Baltimore: Maryland State Road Commission, 1958). In the twentieth century, part of the road became US 111 and Maryland 45.

[50] Report of the State Roads Commission of Maryland, 1957-1958 (Last accessed, March 1, 2012); Streets and Roads (Last accessed, March 1, 2012).

[51] Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, August 23, 1815. It is unclear why Brune opened a second merchant house with Dannemann, but as the two houses were classified differently, it likely made sense as a way to expand his business. Commercial directory: containing, a topographical description, extent and productions of different sections of the Union, statistical information relative to manufactures, commercial and port regulations, a list of the principal commercial houses, tables of imports and exports, foreign and domestic; tables of foreign coins, weights and measures, tariff of duties(1823), 70, 72. On occasion both of Brune's businesses would advertize items for sale in the same newspaper (See Baltimore Price Current, October 7, 1815 and September 20, 1817). Dannemann himself also had a second merchant house, Henry Rhodewald & Dannemann (Baltimore Patriot and Mercantile Advisor, January 14, 1829). There are two independent factors that also link these four men. Brune, von Kapff, Dannemann and Rhodewald (also spelled Rodewald) were all Baltimore merchants and second, all four were members of the German Society of Maryland and thus German-Americans. Louis P. Hennighausen, History of the German Society of Maryland (Baltimore: W.E.C. Harrison & Sons, 1909), 179-183. Rhodewald was also one of the executioners of von Kapffs will, along with Brune. Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 1, Von Kapff Estate Papers.

[52]Commission Merchants,” Old and Sold: Turn of the Century Wisdom for Today (Last accessed, May 11, 2012).

[53] Garitee, 266. The Republican Star, October 10, 1809, and November 7, 1809. Frederick ascended to the throne in 1808. Frederick's liberal leanings would drastically change after 1814, following Frederick's defeat during the Napoleonic Wars.

[54] All 2011 dollar conversions in the article, unless otherwise noted, are based on Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2012, using the Consumer Price Index.

[55] Williams, 265.

[56] Ibid., 124. MDHS, Ambrose Clark-Von Kapff and Brune Shipping Papers, 1793-1829, MS. 1754 Box 1. It is not clear when Clarke sold the Eleanor (built in 1803) to Von Kapff and Brune.

[57] Williams, 124. Both of these losses are also briefly mentioned in Howard, 521.

[58] Enquirer, March 29, 1811.

[59] The Republican, June, 4, 1802. The Viper, which may have been the first ship Von Kapff & Brune owned, traded with Haiti.

[60] House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Claims on Hayti: Message from the President of the United States, 1842, 6-7 (Last accessed, March 1, 2012). This website contains direct access to this report. American Watchmen and Delaware Republican, February 6, 1811.

[61] American Watchmen and Delaware Republican, February 6, 1811; Poulson's Daily Advertiser, February 6, 1811.

[62] Hubert Cole, Christophe King of Haiti (New York: The Viking Press, 1967), 213.

[63] House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Claims on Hayti: Message from the President of the United States, 1842, 7-8.

[64] Cole, 213.

[65] The Following is the full “General Order,” sans the individual numerical breakdown of everything taken from the ships of other merchants:

His Supreme Highness, the President, having judged necessary to send to the United States of America, for purchasing a variety of articles on account of his Government, the sum of one hundred and twenty-four thousand nine hundred and fifty-five dollars and nineteen cents, as follows, viz : 741,000 lbs. of coffee, amount of the cargoes of the English ship Earl Bathurst, and of the American brig Maderia, consigned to Messrs. Von Kapff & Brune, merchants, in Baltimore… [and] Since not only the objects, which had determined the sending of these funds, have been detained in the United States, by the said Von Kapff & Brune, and Mr. M'Faden, but that the said funds have been unjustly detained there, … his Supreme Highness has decided upon the following procedure, which is truly repugnant to his heart and policy, but which is the only resource which remains to recover the property of his state… Wherefore, his Supreme Highness has convoked the American merchants established in this State, in order to declare the American property which was found in their hands, and to make a just detention of it proportionably to the said debt, for its maintenance and preservation… It is evident, from (his account, that they have on hand in money, merchandise, and private debts, the sum of one hundred and thirty-two thousand four hundred and twenty-eight dollars and fifty-two cents, which have been formally retained in the hands of the said merchants, who remain personally responsible for it, till the amount of the debt of His Supreme Highness be restored to him by the said Von Kapff & Brune, and M'Faden, in which case he solemnly promises to surrender all the detained property. Consequently, since American property was found in sufficient quantity in this state, his Most Serene Highness declares that it was kept for satisfaction; and that, from the present date, he should not forbid American vessels from coming freely into the ports of the state, and desires the merchants of this friendly nation to continue their commercial correspondence without fear, for the future, of being molested on account of the present affair.

Done at the headquarters of Cape Henry, January 3, 1811, eighth year of the Independence.P. ROMAIN, Chief of the State, Major General. Considered and approved for the press: HENRY CHRISTOPHE.House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Claims on Hayti: Message from the President of the United States, 1842, 7-8.

[66] New York Herald, February 6, 1811.

[67] Poulson's Daily Advertiser, February 6, 1811.

[68] The only merchant who is known to have regained his goods from Christophe was a Mr. John Myers. The Haitian government had confiscated the cargo of three schooners and a ship valued at $31,369.72 from Myers. In 1811, Myers paid this amount into Christophe's treasury and his goods were released to him. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Claims on Hayti: Message from the President of the United States, 1842. 8-9. Six years passed before the U.S. Government, still under President James Madison, took official action. In 1817, Madison sent an emissary to Christophe. The issue was that the U.S. would still not recognize Haitian independence. In the official letters of introduction by Madison, instead of naming Christophe's capital city as Cap-Haïtien in the Kingdom of Haiti, the city was called “Cap-Français in the island of Saint-Dominique.” Insulted, Christophe refused to see the envoy, and the government was never able to recoup the lost funds for her merchants. Cole, 238-239.

[69] Howard, 521.

[70] Jeremy Black, “A British View of the Naval War of 1812,” Navel History Magazine, 22, 4, (2008) (Last accessed May 17,2012)

[71] Garitee, 77, 145.

[72] Ibid., 40.

[74] Garitee, 45, 263, 265; Howard, 521.

[75] Garitee, 180.

[76] Ibid., 40.

[77] Ibid., 121, 119.

[78] Ibid., 207.

[79] Ibid., 207.

[80] Beirne, 204

[81] Cunz, 202; Beirne, 204 In 1813, Napoleon's forces retreated from Bremen, which had been captured during the Napoleonic Wars. After the French withdrawal, Bremen was able to secure its own autonomy as an independent German city-state. In 1827, Bremen expanded by purchasing land from the Kingdom of Hannover to establish their own harbor, called Bremerhaven. This was due in part to the expanding need for trade and Bremen's inland harbor becoming more difficult to navigate due to silt deposits. Bremerhaven became an important port of departure for immigrants to the United States and during this period Baltimore was their preferred port of entry.Raymond S. Wright III, “German Ports: Gateways to America,” Ancestry Magazine(Mar-Apr 1998), 51-52.

[82] Cunz, 197.

[83] Of note, it was also during this period that the word “immigrant” came into common use. Previously, the word of choice was “emigrant,” denoting “leaving from,” and now immigrant stood for “arriving to,” and in this context it was America. Ibid. 197-198.

[84] Hennighausen, 58-60.

[85] Klaus G. Wust, Pioneers in Service: The German Society of Maryland 1783-1981 (Baltimore: German Society of Maryland, 1981), 49. The term ended after Brune's death and German Society Records show that he served until “1861.”

[86] Cunz, 199.

[87] Ibid., 200.

[88] Ibid., 200-201.

[89] Ibid., 202.

[90] Ibid., 202-203.

[91] John Thomas Scharf, History of Baltimore City and Country From the Earliest Period to the Present Day (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 470; Mayer, 208. Brown, It was believed that “A bank was dependent upon the personal reputation of its officers and members of its board of directors.” “Baltimore and the Trade Panic of 1819,” Law Society and Politics in Early Maryland, Eds. Land, Carr, Papenfuse, 215.

[92] Nationwide, the bank had twenty-five national directors, five appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. It seems that each of the twenty-five directors would be in charge of one of the twenty-five branches of the bank, and would have local directors, such as Brune, working under them. The Second National Bank, A Chapter in the History of Central Banking, (Philadelphia, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), 6 (Last accessed, March 1, 2012). The recession was exacerbated, in part, by the actions of the Second National Bank. The Second National Bank of the United States (1816-1836) was a lending institution and any promissory notes given had to be taken on faith that the bank could back it. In 1819 the value of the promissory notes of the bank came into question. Individuals began to demand that the notes be backed by specie, physical gold or silver coins. The bank was unable to do this with all its loans, which led to a loss in confidence that the bank could repay its debts which sparked the financial panic. In 1819, Langdon Cheves was appointed as president of the bank to fix the problems that came to light that year. The bank successfully reorganized and instituted rules that would better regulate its own value and ability. The Second National Bank, A Chapter in the History of Central Banking, 6. Further exacerbating the situation was that Europe was sending more goods to the United States than could be sold. Import value depreciated because of excess availability, and thus exports were less profitable. Gary L. Brown, “Baltimore and the Trade Panic of 1819,” Law Society and Politics in Early Maryland, Eds. Aubrey C. Land, Lois Green Carr, Edward C. Papenfuse (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977),213.

[93] Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, November 29, 1823, and December 03, 1830; Boston Commercial Gazette, December 06, 1824. A major reason Andrew Jackson was against the bank was that he did not trust paper notes. He also believed that it was too powerful and too centralized. He vetoed the renewal of the charter (which expired in 1836), and he took federal money out of the bank and put it into state banks (which he did in 1833), which effectively crippled the Second National Bank's ability to do business. This led to a slow end of the institution, which reconsolidated as a private bank, but finally closed its doors in 1841.

[94] Matchett's Baltimore Director, corrected up to September 1835, 21.

[95] Howard, 522.

[96] Scharf, 439; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, May 6, 1822, and May 3, 1823. 1819 is also mentioned as one of the difficult years for commerce that Von Kapff & Brune, now established merchants, weathered. Mayer, 208.

[97] One anecdote (which unfortunately is undated) relates that one of the trading firm’s ships, the Harriet, had successfully done business all around South America. It sailed around Cape Horn and made a stop in Rio de Janeiro. The captain, without express permission from Von Kapff & Brune, purchased a cargo of coffee. Coffee, at that time, was considered so foreign that few would buy it and they were forced to sell it at a loss. This may have been one of the earliest exposures to coffee in Baltimore. Only later would coffee become one of the most important trade items for Baltimore and around the world. Mayer, 208; Howard, 521-522; Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1952. This event probably happened in the early 1800s, as by 1811 Henri Christophe was able to send $120,000 worth of coffee to Baltimore to build his warship. In another anecdote, one of their vessels sailed from Valparaiso, Chile, to Baltimore in a record-setting 69 days. Mayer, 208; Howard, 521; Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1952. Another ship was said to have made the trip from Montevideo, Uruguay in 35 days. Howard, 521.

[98] The Second National Bank, A Chapter in the History of Central Banking, 6.

[99] Mayer, 208.

[100] Though the actual founding date of this company is unclear, Brune, at this point in his life, was a founding member of this organization, whose purpose was to help rebuild the houses and offices of its clients if they were damaged by fire. Howard, 522.

[101] Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, February 1, 1828.

[102] Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, November 9, 1831.

[103] Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, March 4, 1831, and December 8, 1834.

[104] Baltimore Sun, April 2, 1841. This advertisement lists cargo for “F.W. Brune & Son.”

[105] F.W. Brune & Son Articles in Co-partnership, MDHS, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 1.

[106] F.W. Brune and Sons announcement, MDHS, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 1.

[107] The Second National Bank, A Chapter in the History of Central Banking, 6.

[108] Baltimore Sun, March 26, 1844.

[109] Mayer, 209.

[110] Howard, 521.

[111] Mayer, 209.

[112] Roger Brooke Taney, Reports of cases at Law and Equity and in the Admiralty Determined in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Maryland (Philadelphia, Kay & Brother, 1871), 142 (Last accessed, March 1, 2012). This site contains a copy of the Supreme Court transcript.

[113] Baltimore Sun, May 24, 1849.

[114] Taney, Reports of Cases at Law and Equity and in the Admiralty…, 138.

[115] 1860 U.S. Census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 10, Baltimore, Maryland, Roll: M653_461, 982.

[116] Insertions and deletions in the original manuscript. F.W. Brune Will, Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 1.

[117] This fascinating tidbit is very frustrating because these family members remain unnamed.

[118] F.W. Brune Will, Maryland Historical Society, Brune-Randall Family Papers, 1782-1972, MS 2004, Box 1.

[119] Mayer, 210.

[120] Ibid., 209.

[121] Baltimore Sun, October 24, 1887.

[123] Baltimore Sun, November 13, 1860; Howard, 521. Brune was so well esteemed he was often used as a character reference in classified advertisements, Baltimore Sun, October 3 1848, and November 27, 1850.

[124] Hennighausen, 6; Baltimore Sun June 25, 1839. This announcement shows that F.W. Brune II bought a lot on the street named for his father. Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1952. This article on Brune was part of a running series in the Baltimore Sun in the 1950s. It chronicled the history of the men in Baltimore's street names.

[125] Baltimore Sun, May 29, 1860.

[126] Baltimore Sun, November 10, 1860.

[127] Baltimore Sun, November 13, 1860.

[128] Howard, 522, 599. On page 599 it is revealed that F.W. Brune II wrote the piece on Brune I. The quote at the end of the biographical sketch on page 522 is worth quoting in full: “Mr. Brune was distinguished for the urbanity and simplicity of his manners, the out-growth of an innate dignity of character, united with great amiability and a rare modesty. He died at the age of eighty-four, having seen the city of his adoption grow from thirty thousand inhabitants to nearly ten times that number, and during all this time he enjoyed the undisturbed respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens of all classes.”

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Frederick W. Brune
  • Coverage 1776-1860
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date May 26, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018