At a meeting of the Pioneer Association of Cincinnati, held on Saturday last, Parson Brownlow made another characteristic speech. We find it reported in the Gazette:
GENTLEMEN: I feel called upon to respond to the document read by the honorable secretary, and also the address of the gentlemen from the General Assembly who has just taken his seat. I authorize the gentleman and the honorable Secretary to say, that I shall be proud and happy to visit the capital as the guest of the General Assembly; but I cannot say when I shall be able to accept their kind invitation. – The truth is, I have completely taken in my friend, the host of the Gibson House, who on my arrival here in this city, came to meet me on the steamboat, and invited me to make his house my home during my stay here. I fear he will get more than he bargained for. I am very comfortable there, and shall certainly enjoy his hospitality some while longer yet. But still, I want to visit the capital of your State, to undo the machinations and refute the sayings of a certain bogus nephew of mine, whom, if God does not know anything more about him than I do, will be inevitably and irretrievably lost in a coming day.
My mind has been variously exercised while I have been sitting here. This is not a society of young men and boys, but a society of old men; men who are true to the backbone – loyal, faithful, patriotic men, who old as they are would lay down with eager joy a life almost worn out under the beneficent protection of the best Government ever established on God’s beautiful earth. They are honest men – none of your mean, pitiful, swindling, God-forsaken, rascally demagogues, who have used the strength God endowed them with to endeavor to overturn his most sacred institution – our Government. I am no candidate for popular favor – I want no office, although I did take a tilt against Isham Harris. [Laughter.] I am not adapted for an office, and as I said before, I don’t want one; but I am a Federal, and I believe in a strong Government – one that has the power and the ability and the energy to put down treason – to crush out traitors; and in short, gentlemen, to take care of itself. I think that your present Government is the right kind of Government, but still not entirely so, inasmuch as it is hardly in earnest enough in the stupendous work it is now occupied in; but I hope and believe that with God’s help and our backing, that this Government will soon put down the most diabolical treason that has ever been seen in any part of the world.
I have fought many battles; religious battles, political battles and every other kind of battles, and I have encountered the devil, Tom Walker and the Southern Confederacy, [Laughter and applause,] and it has gone hard with one to be called after, and pointed at so long, as a traitor, by all the miserable, sneaking, cowardly rascals who have torn and rent this glorious Union apart. My father was a volunteer in my country’s army and my uncle lived and died in the service of his country, and thank God their graves are still in possession of the Federals. My mother’s relatives also shed their blood at their country’s call at Norfolk, and yet I am called a traitor, and by such despicable men as compose the Southern Confederacy.
Mr. Eggelston alluded to the crushing out of my paper. Yes, gentlemen, the office from which came the last sheets in defense of the Union, ever published in Knoxville, was cleaned out and converted into a workshop for repairing and altering all the arms stolen by that accomplished thief and runaway, Floyd. All my ambition now, is to go back once more to Knoxville to establish another office. Once more to spread abroad the glorious truths of the Union; and once more to take from a drawer in my own house, the flag which so long waved defiantly in the breeze, while these hellhounds were longing, and yet not daring to tear down and trample it in the dust.
I would never have taken down that flag but for the females in my own house, who besought and entreated me to do so, lest the house should be torn down about their ears.
One day a crowd surrounded my house and threatened to tear down my flag; but I warned them they would have to do it in the face of six loaded muskets, which would be used by men who would never flinch from their duty. They took sober second thought, and marched away, but presently about fifteen came back again, drunker than ever, led by a young officer who was desired to tear the d----d thing of a flag down. In the meanwhile, I had left my house and gone to the office, leaving my wife in charge. She came forward and expressed her intention of shooting the first man who attempted to haul down the flag. The officer was slightly scared, and said:
“Madam, you won’t shoot, will you?”
“You had better try the experiment,” said she.
“Go on, go on!” shouted the crowd, “She daren’t shoot!”
She instantly drew from her pocket one of the Colt’s revolvers and cocking leveled it at the officer’s head. “Never mind her, she’s only a woman,” cried the mob. “By God! look at her eye,” said the officer as, as he made a low bow, scraped the ground and toddled off, followed by the whole crowd. The gentleman addressed me expressing his regret that my paper is stopped and my office is closed, and I reply to him that all my ambition is to go back to Knoxville and resurrect my old paper. To go back with new presses and new type, and with a soul renewed and revived by a baptism in the glorious liberty of northern States. And I also want to go back there, and repay a debt of gratitude I owe to about one hundred and fifty of the most unmitigated scoundrels that can be found on the face of the earth. To liberate a people oppressed and defrauded by the most Satanic conspiracy ever consummated. Defrauded and duped by Southern confederacy bonds. Bonds having on one side a full length portrait of Jeff. Davis and a picture of a henroost on the other, bearing on them the words: “I promise to pay, six months after declaration of peace between the Southern Confederacy and the United States of North America, $50.”
They have fixed a time which never can and never will come. The only treaty of peace which we can have will be accomplished with powder and ball and river gunboats. There is nothing which fills a rebel with so much horror as gunboats. They would rather meet Old Nick, horns and all, than to meet our gunboats. But this is not strange, perhaps, when we recollect their near relationship to that sable individual.
Some time since, I stood alone amidst 2,000 rebel soldiers, and I said, in my address to them: “It is you of the South that are to blame. The North have not precipitated this war on us; it is you who have done it. You complained of an infringement of Southern rights when there was no infringement. You complained of Northern encroachments when there were none, and you have rushed into a war of the most wicked kind, without the shadow of reason.”
But, gentlemen of Ohio, I do not and cannot exonerate the North, and I say in brief to you, that if, fifty years ago, we had taken 100 Southern Fire-eaters and 100 Northern Abolitionists and hanged them up and buried them in a common ditch and sent their souls to hell, we should have had none of this war. [Immense applause.] I am speaking too long [Cries of “No! no!” “Go on!” “Don’t allow that talk.”] But in looking around on this assembly I notice that Time has written his mark unmistakably on the countenances of a large proportion of this audience. Many are growing gray; I am getting old myself, and I know not how soon the span of our existence may be shortened and the spirit take its flight to realms of eternal joy and happiness or everlasting misery. It behooves us all then, to see to it that we are prepared for this change wherever and whenever it may come, and may God in his infinite mercy bless and keep us all.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 1