Brownlow, William Gannaway (brounˈlō) [key], 1805–77, U.S. politician, governor of Tennessee (1865–69), known as the "Fighting Parson," b. Wythe co., Va. Brownlow won a large following in E Tennessee as an itinerant preacher, editor of the Jonesboro Whig, and, after 1849, editor of the influential Knoxville Whig. Along with Andrew Johnson, whom Brownlow despised, he shared the Unionist leadership in E Tennessee, although he did not oppose slavery. In Oct., 1861, his paper was suppressed by the Confederates, and Brownlow was imprisoned until Mar., 1862. Early in 1865 he became governor of Tennessee and instituted a destructive Reconstruction regime that proclaimed martial law and persecuted Confederate elements in the state. He also employed state guards to crush the newly established Ku Klux Klan. He was reelected in 1867 and served as U.S. Senator from 1869 to 1873.
See the narrative of his experiences during the Civil War, Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession (1862); biography by E. M. Coulter (1937, repr. 1971).
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