Owen Brewster was born in Penobscot County, Maine, on 22nd February, 1888. He graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, in 1909, and from the law department of Harvard University in 1913. He was admitted to the bar and worked as a lawyer in Portland, Maine.
A member of the Republican Party he served as Governor of Maine (1925-1929). An unsuccessful candidate for election to the Seventy-third Congress in 1932; he was elected to the Seventy-fourth, Seventy-fifth, and Seventy-sixth Congresses (January 3, 1935-January 3, 1941). Brewster was elected to the United States Senate in 1940 and took his seat on 3rd January, 1941.
Brewster was chairman of the Senate War Investigating Committee. In 1946 Brewster announced that he was very concerned that the government had given Howard Hughes $40m for the development and production of two aircraft that had never been delivered. Brewster also pointed out the President Franklin D. Roosevelt had overruled his military experts in order to hand out the contracts to Hughes for the F-11 and HK-1 (also known as the Spruce Goose).
Brewster also pointed out that Hughes had provided "softening-up parties" for government officials. Howard paid movie starlets $200 to attend these parties. Their duties included swimming nude in Hughes's swimming pool. Julius Krug, the chief of the War Production Board, was someone who often attended these parties. One congressman who was also a frequent guest at Hughes's home claimed: "If those girls were paid two hundred dollars, they were greatly underpaid".
Howard Hughes, accused of corruption, leaked information to journalists, Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson that Brewster was being paid by Pan American Airways (Pan Am) to cause trouble. According to Hughes, Pan Am was trying to persuade the United States government to set up an official worldwide monopoly under its control. Part of this plan was to force all existing American carriers with overseas operations to close down or merge with Pan Am. As the owner of Trans World Airlines, Hughes posed a serious threat to this plan. Hughes claimed that Brewster had approached him and suggested he merge Trans World with Pan Am. When Hughes refused Brewster began a smear campaign against him.
Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson believed Hughes and began their own campaign against Brewster. They reported that Pan Am had provided Bewster with free flights to Hobe Sound, Florida, where he stayed free of charge at the holiday home of Pan Am Vice President Sam Pryor. These charges were repeated by Hughes when he appeared before the Senate War Investigating Committee. He also accused Brewster of trying to blackmail him into merging Trans World with Pan Am. Brewster denied the charge but it helped divert attention away from the charge that Hughes had wasted $40m of government money.
The Senate War Investigating Committee never completed its report on the non-delivery of the F-11 and the HK-1. The committee stopped meeting and was eventually disbanded.
In 1950 Brewster joined other right-wing members of Congress, including Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, J. Parnell Thomas, Harold Velde, Francis E. Walter, John Rankin, John Wood, and Karl Mundt in their campaign to remove "communists" from public life. When McCarthy claimed that Drew Pearson was a communist in a speech in the Senate on 15th December, 1950, Brewster had 75,000 copies printed and sent them out to everyone on his mailing list.
Brewster was a strong supporter of General Douglas MacArthur and urged President Harry S. Truman to allow American troops to cross the Chinese border. He also suggested that MacArthur should be allowed to use atomic bombs in the Korean War.
Owen Brewster died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 25th December, 1961, and was later interned in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Dexter, Maine.