Life as It Is

Or Matters and Things in General

  • Author(s): Breazeale, J. W. M.
  • Series: Appalachian Echoes Non-fiction
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2009-10-15
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $29.95 | Buy Now

Originally published in 1842, John Will M. Breazeale’s Life as It Is is an insightful—and at times chilling—collection of essays on a variety of subjects relating to life in early East Tennessee. Though little is known about the author, a frontier lawyer and editor of the Tennessee Journal from 1837 to 1838, scholars of the nineteenth-century South, Tennessee historians, and even true crime buffs will find his observations of considerable interest.

The first chapters present a history of Tennessee from its first European exploration through the state’s admission to the Union. Later chapters highlight the state’s unique geographic features, followed by a gruesome account of the murderous rampage of Micajah and Wiley Harp, who terrorized settlers along the line separating eastern Kentucky and Tennessee at the turn of the nineteenth century. Breazeale next offers his thoughts on the practice of political “electioneering,” recounting a fictional canvass in a typical congressional district. Life as It Is concludes with several chapters noting various features of Breazeale’s Tennessee, including Native American “antiquities,” the founding of the state government, and an early religious revival.

Breazeale’s account both complements and corrects Judge John Haywood’s better-known Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee, revealing the richly varied attitudes of early Tennessee pioneers toward their history, society, politics, and natural environments.

J. W. M. Breazeale was a lawyer and editor of the Tennessee Journal from 1837 to 1838.

Jonathan M. Atkins, professor of history at Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia, is the author of numerous articles and the book Parties, Politics, and the Sectional Conflict in Tennessee, 1832–1861.