"Brownlow was 'a Methodist preacher, who once preached with a pistol and a bowie-knife on the Bible before him . . . . ready to gouge any fellow creature.'"
Antebellum southerners had ample reason to consider themselves as religiously tolerant as any people in America. Certainly, the testimony of Catholics and Jews bore them out. Yet, according to prevalent Yankee opinion, the Old South stood as the very embodiment of bigotry. The facts simply did not matter. The frequent—and ludicrous—charges of religious bigotry did have a basis but not one readily suitable for the abolitionists, who themselves wallowed in anti-Catholicism and related niceties. The plantation belt demonstrated the religious toleration that southerners prided themselves on, whereas the yeoman-dominated up-country provided grist for the mill of those who loved to denigrate the South.