Given a copy of your tabloid of April 7, 2011, with the "Requiem for Parson Brownlow," [by Jack Neely] I read it intently. It states that he was Knoxville's "Most Hated" Civil War Figure. Hated by whom? He was elected three times and his newspapers helped him to a righteous wealth and prosperity. His wife, Eliza, thought he was the homeliest man she ever saw, but when he began to speak, she said he became exceedingly lovely. The common people heard him gladly. And voted for him.
The problem with his critics today is that they do not understand either integrity or patriotism. Brownlow stood with the Union, right or wrong. If the Union had laws against blacks voting, then he stood with those laws and defended them. When the laws were changed to admit their voting, he was the first to sign Tennessee onto this liberty. He loved the United States. It was the Union Forever, Amen.
I have read his life extensively, and admittedly, we are dealing with a different variety of people today—prominent pragmatists and liars who will do anything for a dollar bill. They do not admire the Spirit of Liberty, rather they imbibe whatever spirits come in a bottle or fancy wine glass. That Spirit of Liberty can't be bought; it is not for sale. Simon the Sorcerer found that out when he tried to buy it. See the Book of Acts.
I read nothing in the article of the benevolence and charity of Brownlow. It was recorded that if one needed help, he would reach into his pocket and take out whatever money was there and give it to the poor person, without looking to count the amount. No tax deduction or other perks. It was an act of love and true charity. His book, (which was considered "hopelessly unavailable" until a university agreed to print one copy at a time): Foreignism, Romanism, and Bogus Democracy should be required reading, for it is the true and accurate history of the Civil War, taught from one who was afraid to tell a lie. He was never brought under scrutiny by a then-scrupulous Methodist Church for any immoral conduct, and his character was impeccable and sterling. Unlike today's vain politicians, you knew where he stood and he was the best governor we ever had, running just a little ahead of John Sevier, another beleaguered and despised by those whose spirit only comes from a bottle.
Furthermore, I saw little reference to his great popularity, having only 22 votes against him in one election. Merlin Coulter, who hated him, wrote that the "glory which came to him (when he travelled over the States) was only excelled by the Aurora Borealis." Whole choirs sang his praises and governors and elected leaders bowed to this humble Tennessean, whose third-grade education is superior to any that higher-learning offers today. His ability to express himself and paint word pictures with Jehovah's Vehemence is legend.
Tennessee did not fall to the corruption after the War, like, for example, South Carolina and other states. Why? Because Brownlow was governor. But as I said, you won't understand this.
There are a few around who do understand and who follow in his footsteps and understand that patriotism and integrity still live and are the adversaries of those who promote Foreignism, Romanism, and Bogus Democracy. The Sons of Zion will prevail, for Jesus is their Captain.
For God and Country,