The Wit, Wisdom, and Outrage of Parson Brownlow

On the Democratic Party:

"I join the Democrats! Never, so long as there are sects in churches, weeds in gardens, fleas in hog-pens, dirt in victuals, disputes in families, wars with nations, water in the ocean, bad men in America, or base women in France! ...when Queen Victoria consents to be divorced from Prince Albert by a county court in Kansas... when Alexander of Russia and Napoleon of France are elected Senators from New Mexico... when proof is afforded, both clear and unquestionable, that there is no God....

"I can only speak for myself, and for myself I saw most unhesitatingly that I shall fight this Democracy until I die. They may call me a Black Republican, an ally of the North, or what not; I am against the thieving party in power. And if the Opposition shall nominate the Devil Himself with Horns and Tail on, I will take him as a choice of evils, against any of the corrupt, insincere and plundering leaders in this self-styled Democratic Party." (Aug. 1859)

On Knoxville:

"Knoxville is the centre of East Tennessee... aye, it is the Metropolis of a territory of some 30 counties, a rich and fertile country, abounding in rich iron ore, coal, salt, hydraulic lime, marble, valuable timber, and other choice materials for manufacturing purposes. Add to these excellencies, a salubrious climate, fine air, and the best water that ever our God sent forth from the hills and valleys.... Add still to these charms the fact that the entire territory of East Tennessee presents to the eye of the paralyzed beholder a surface of country... picturesque and beautiful beyond conception. Is it any wonder that we thus calculate on the growth of our already flourishing town? Certainly not.... Our honest opinion is that there is not a more interesting locality, or delightful city in the Union, all things considered, than... Knoxville, and hence we are here for life! We have now lived in this world almost a half a century, and in that time.... We have met no locality that holds out more inviting inducements to population, wealth, enterprise, industry, and talents." (1853)

On Knoxville's leadership:

"...a hateful scrub aristocracy who govern the city under the name of the ‘corporate authorities.'" (1850)

On old East Knoxville:

"We are residing in that part of the city—ancient and venerable—known as ‘hardscrabble,' upon premises where we cannot be disturbed and where no pious pretenders, no religious fraud or priestly cunning can double the price of rent on us. (1850)

On Secession:

"What the people of the Southern States should do may be summed up in a single word: PAUSE!" (November, 1860)

"Men change in a night. Men rise up and dress as Union men, and turn Secessionist before breakfast is over. The worst symptom is the morbid excitement of the organ of credibility. The cry of a loss of one's rights originates the disease, and it never abates until a patient "goes clear out...." If a man is a Union mechanic, and out of work, the furnishing him with a small job at once discloses the startling fact that Lincoln commenced this war, that it is a war of conquest, and that the the sacred soil of the South is to be invaded and the negroes set at liberty. The malady is short; the disease runs its course in 24 hours, and the patient heads a committee to order better men than himself to leave the State in a given time. He believes every lie he hears, and swears to the truth of every lie he tells.... The disease is contagious, and a clever man will contract it by drinking mean whiskey out of the same tumbler with one afflicted with it." (July 6, 1861)

On Confederacy:

"Lay these cotton states waste; make a howling wilderness of the cotton, rice and grain growing plantations of the South—starve out, and drive out the population; and introduce honest laborers, who are loyal, and will answer the end for which they were created." (Feb., 1864)

On journalism:

"Young man, if this brief epistle meets your eye, do not become the Editor of a newspaper.... Rather than do so, beg—clean out stables—work in gardens—keep ledgers—attend a sawmill—take in washing—take up a country school—sell rags—black boots about a decent tavern... do anything rather than become the Editor of a newspaper." (1848)

On the prospect of imprisonment:

"I expect to go to jail, and I am ready to start upon one moment's warning. Not only so, but there I am prepared to lie in solitary confinement until I waste away because of imprisonment or die from old age. Stimulated by a consciousness of innocent uprightness, I will submit to imprisonment for life, or die at the end of a rope, before I will make any humiliating concession to any power on earth!" (Oct. 1861)

On Andrew Johnson:

"This huge mass of corruption... this beast in human form, whose violence and rule of passion, vicious life and unprovided death, alone qualify him to serve as one of the bodyguards of Beelzebub!

"I... pronounce your governor, here upon his own dunghill, an unmitigated liar and calumniator and a villainous coward, wanting the nerve to stand up to his abuse of better men than he himself!"

On Andrew Jackson, at his death:

"After a life of 80 long years, spent in the indulgence of the most bitter and vindictive passions which disgrace human nature and distract the human mind, the existence of Andrew Jackson terminated.... He is gone to a land of deepest shades, and we are willing to take our leave of him. He has passed out of our hands, into the hands of a just God.... We would not, if even we could, turn aside the veil of the future to show his deluded followers and blind admirers what awaits him!" (1845)

On Jonesborough:

"This is emphatically Dog Town, a town literally overrun with dogs! There cannot be less than 150 surplus dogs in the place... in two nights, we were enabled to shoot six." (1841)

On rumors:

"I ask for something more than rumor. Madam rumor, I am aware, has long since pronounced me the prince of evil-doers. Who is it that she has not condemned?" (1841)

On gun ownership:

"I have Pistols of a superior quality, and I always have them about me. I daily move in the midst of an unprincipled band of assassins, bloodhounds, and murderers, who seek my life, and nothing but my arms, and a belief on their part that I will use them, prevents them from attacking me. My weapons will hurt no man unless I am assailed, then, and in that case, I will use them.... Under these circumstances I have been induced to go armed at all times, and I intend to continue this state of preparation." (1841)

On a man who seduces a woman, breaking promises of marriage:

"...he deserves to have his body chopped into pieces, and given to the dogs, and his soul sent to Hell." (1842)

On women:

"The young ladies have a strange walk nowadays to what they used to have. Each one flirts as if a flea were biting her on each hip."

On his own exile:

"I shall go, because I have failed to recognize the hand of God in the breaking up of the American government, and the inauguration of the most wicked, cruel, unnatural and uncalled-for war ever recorded in history. I go because I have refused to laud to the skies the acts of tyranny, usurpation and oppression inflicted on the people of East Tennessee for their devotion to the Constitution...." (Oct. 26, 1861)