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Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Andrew L. Slap

Committee Members

Dale J. Schmitt, Tommy D. Lee II


This study analyzes the rhetoric of William "Parson" Brownlow during the Civil War era. Within the pages of the Whig, Brownlow's famous newspaper, he created a fixed image of African Americans. Brownlow argued that when removed from slavery, people of African descent naturally became barbaric, and thus slavery was needed to ensure the safety of the white population. Despite this consistency in racial thought, Brownlow, through the course of the 1850s shifted from defending slavery as a necessary evil to promoting slavery as an unqualified blessing in the years before the Civil War. Furthermore, during Brownlow's governorship of Tennessee during Reconstruction, Brownlow argued that slavery was economically deleterious to poor white farmers. These findings have important implications for the history of Appalachia. Most specifically, Brownlow's racist rhetoric suggests that race perceptions in East Tennessee were not significantly separable from the race sentiments of the larger South.

Document Type

Thesis - restricted


Copyright by the authors.