by June Griffin
As a long-time admirer of our former Governor of Tennessee, William Gannaway Brownlow, I am amazed at his prophetic insight into the problems that even today we face. In my opinion, he was the greatest American in history. With a third-grade education, self-taught, he rose to fame as the publisher of the Jonesboro Whig and the Knoxville Whig, a Methodist circuit riding preacher, and ultimately elected Governor and Senator. He was a true American. He loved our American union with a vehemence, so much so that his critics called him the "meanest man in East Tennessee." Merlin Coulter wrote his biography, even though he despised this great man. He had to admit that "the glory that Brownlow came to was only excelled by the auroro borealis."
The following letter is just one example of his marvelous oratory and God's Spirit giving him inspiration. And all the people said: "Amen."
KNOXVILLE, Aug. 6, 1860.
Mr. JORDAN CLARK: I have your letter of the 30th ult., and hasten to let you know the precise time when I expect to come out and formally announce that I have joined the Democratic Party. When the sun shines at midnight, and the moon at mid-day -- when man forgets to be selfish, or Democrats lose their inclinations to steal -- when nature stops her onward march to rest, or all the water-courses in America flow up stream -- when flowers lose their odor, and trees shed no leaves -- when birds talk, and beasts of burden laugh -- when damned spirits swap hell for heaven with the angels of light, and pay them the boot in mean whisky -- when impossibilities are in fashion, and no proposition is too absurd to be believed, you may credit the report that I have joined the Democrats!
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: No, JORDAN CLARK, you may hope -- you may congratulate -- you may reason -- you may sneer -- but that cannot be. The thrones of the Old World -- the Courts of the Universe -- the governments of the world, may all fall and crumble into ruin -- the New World may commit the national suicide of dissolving this Union, but all this must occur before I join the Democracy!
I join the Democracy! -- JORDAN CLARK, you know not what you say -- when I join the Democracy the Pope of Rome will join the Methodist Church -- when JORDAN CLARK, Arkansas, is President of the Republic of Great Britain, by universal suffrage of a contented people -- when Queen Victoria consents to be divorced from Prince Albert, by a county court in Kansas -- when Congress obliges by law, JAMES BUCHANAN to marry a European Princess -- when the Pope leases the Capitol at Washington for his city residence -- when ALEXANDER, of Russia, and NAPOLEON of France are elected Senators in Congress from New Mexico -- when good men cease to go to heaven, or bad men to hell -- when this world is turned up-side down -- when proof is afforded, both clear and unquestionable, that there is no God -- when men turn to ants, and ants to elephants, I will change my political faith and come out on the side of Democracy!
Supposing that this full and frank letter will enable you to fix upon the period when I will come out a full-grown Democrat, and to communicate the same to all whom it may concern in Arkansas.
I have the honor to be &c.,