Goodman Brown represented Prince George and Surry counties in the House of Delegates. He came from a free, property-owning African American family. During the(1861–1865), Brown served in the U.S. Navy as a cabin boy aboard the USS Maratanza. In the 1870s he became involved in and later was an ally of leader . As chairman of the Surry County Readjuster Committee, Brown used his relationship with Mahone to seek patronage positions for local men. When the Readjuster Party ceased to exist, Brown followed Mahone into the . Winning the party’s nomination for the local House of Delegates seat in 1887, he soundly his opponent in the general election. Although he did not seek reelection in 1889, Brown remained one of Surry County’s most important African American citizens.