Best known as the “Fighting Parson,” William G. Brownlow earned his sobriquet during his years as an early 19th century, circuit-riding Methodist preacher in the southern Appalachians. E. Merton Coulter, renowned historian and Brownlow biographer, explained the “frontier man of God was a hard rider, a hard preacher, and a hard liver.” Thus, Brownlow learned very quickly how antagonizing his rivals served as a powerful tool in the contest of soul-winning on the frontier. This practice of verbally attacking his enemies was also used during his long public career in both journalism and politics. Consequently, for Brownlow, religion and politics were inseparable as he lashed out at Presbyterians, Baptists, and Democrats alike. Brownlow remains a colorful, albeit controversial, historical character due to his biting sarcasm and often merciless verbal attacks on his enemies. Nevertheless, close examination of Brownlow's life and career offers a reflection of the deep divisions within the generation of which he lived.
""Cry Aloud and Spare Not": William G. Brownlow, the "Fighting Parson" and His Cantankerous Spirit,"
Bound Away: The Liberty Journal of History: Vol. 5:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/ljh/vol5/iss1/4