Further Requiems

I enjoyed Jack Neely’s article on Parson Brownlow immensely. [“Requiem for Parson Brownlow,” cover story, April 7, 2011] Neely does a very good job of putting Brownlow in a context that makes him a little less inexplicable. Your readers may be interested to know that a spate of recent works have illuminated Brownlow and his times. In addition to the new study of Andrew Johnson by Paul Bergeron mentioned by Neely, Robert Tracy McKenzie’s Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War (2006), despite not mentioning Knoxville in the title, is likely the best study of Knoxville (or any other Southern city) in the Civil War era is likely to get. McKenzie’s book is particularly effective in getting at the (regrettably) key role white supremacy played in reuniting this incredibly divided town, which makes Brownlow’s own version of racism a little clearer. UTK historian Steve Ash’s introduction to the latest edition of Coulter’s biography (1999) is a useful first step to understanding Brownlow and Coulter’s dated but important interpretation of him. Ben Severance’s Tennessee’s Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867–1869 (2005), provides an invaluable corrective to Coulter’s Lost Cause-infused interpretation of Brownlow’s Reconstruction governorship. Brownlow may await a contemporary biography, but it’s great to see some light, as well as heat, being generated by him!

Scot Danforth

Oak Ridge

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