Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pulpit Politics and Parson Brownlow – Yancey and the Parson

From Parson Brownlow’s New York Speech.

But a few weeks prior to the Presidential election, they announced in their papers that the great bull of the whole disunion flock was to speak in Nashville – a man the two first letters of his name are W. L. Yancey – a fellow that the Governor of South Carolina pardoned out of the State prison for murdering his uncle, Dr. Earl.  He was announced to speak, and the crowd was two to one Union men.  I had never spoken to him in my life.  He called out in an insolent manner, “Is Parson Brownlow in this crowd?”  The disunionists hallowed out “Yes, he is here,”  “I hope,” said he, “the Parson will have nerve to come upon the stand and have me catechize him.”  “No.” – But the crowd hallowed to Yancey, “Brownlow is here, but he has not the nerve enough to mount the stand where you are.”  I rose and marched up the steps and said, “I will show you whether I have the nerve or not.”  “Sir,” said he – and he is a beautiful speaker, and personally a very fine looking man – “are you the celebrated Parson Brownlow?”  “I am the only man on earth,” I replied, “that fills the bin!”  (Laughter.)  “Don’t you think,” said Yancey, “you are badly employed as a preacher, a man of your cloth to be dabbling in politics, and meddling with State affairs?”  “No, sir,” said I, “a distinguished member of the party you are acting with once took Jesus Christ up upon a mount – (uproarious laughter) – and said to the Savior, “Look at the kingdoms of the world.  All this will I give thee if thou will fall down and worship me.”  “Now, Sir,” I said, “His reply to the devil is my reply to you, ‘Get thee behind me Satan.’”  (Renewed laughter and applause)  I rather expected to be knocked down by him, but I stood with my side to him, and a cocked Derringer in my breeches pocket.  I intended if I went off the scaffold that he should go the other way.  (Cheers)  “Now, sir,” I said,” “if you are through, I would like to make a few remarks.”  “Certainly, proceed,” said Yancey.  “Well, sir, you should tread lightly upon the toes of preachers, and you should get these disunionists to post you up before you launch out in this way against preachers.  Are you aware, sir, that this old grey-headed man sitting here, Isaac Lewis, the President of the meeting, who has welcomed you, is an old disunion Methodist preacher, and Buchanan’s pension agent here, who has been meddling with politics all his life time?”  “Sir,” said I, “are you aware that this man, James P. Thomas, on my left is a Breckinridge elector for this Congressional District?  He was turned out of the Methodist ministry for whipping his wife and slandering his neighbors.”  “Sir,” said I, “are you aware that this young man sitting in front of us, Colonel Loudon C. Haynes, the elector of the Breckinridge ticket for the State of Tennessee at large, was expelled from the ministry for lying and cheating his neighbors in a measure of corn?”  “Now,” said I, “for God’s sake, say nothing more about preachers until you know what sort of preachers are in your own ranks.”

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 31, 1862, p. 1

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