Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography

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Michael P. Federici's well-written introduction situates these essays within a coherent theme and explains how these essays are especially relevant to contemporary debates about populism, race, American exceptionalism, and the relationship between religion and politics. The book will interest students and scholars of American political thought, as well as those with an interest in religion and politics. Federici is professor of political science and international relations at Middle Tennessee State University.

Catalog Record: Orestes A. Brownson's middle life from | HathiTrust Digital Library

Skip to content. Federici pages , 7. Description Press Kit Author Bio Reviews Awards Description This collection of thirteen original essays by Orestes Augustus Brownson — , a major political and philosophical figure in the American Catholic intellectual tradition, presents his developed political theory in which he devotes central attention to connecting Catholicism to American politics. Author Bio Michael P. Reviews "Orestes Brownson was one of the most prolific political philosophers in American history and one of the most brilliant.

To summarize the philosophy of such a productive, complex, and sometimes contradictory figure is a daunting task, which Michael Federici nevertheless accomplishes surprisingly well in the introduction to this volume. Augustine , St. Thomas, and manuals of scholasticism, and renounced entirely the eclectic modes of thought that had led him to the door of the Church. Having been in the mainstream of American Protestantism, and a leading figure in "the movement party" of New England , he entertained hopes of winning many of his former associates and readers to a sympathetic consideration of Catholicism.

The Big Life of Brownson

Unlike his friend and fellow convert, Isaac hecker, he adopted a militant tone and strategy of which he was later critical. A letter of general approbation and encouragement from the American bishops appeared in his Review from to , and Pope Pius IX favorably recognized his work in Late in Newman invited him to join the faculty of the new Catholic University at Dublin but withdrew the invitation because of the feeling aroused in Ireland by Brownson's views on the issue of americanism.

He defended the Union cause vigorously during the Civil War , but in the presidential race he would have preferred to support General John C. He revived it from to He died April 17, , and was buried in Detroit; ten years later his remains were moved to a crypt in the Sacred Heart Church on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Brownson's achievement.

As a journalist and controversialist, Brownson brought a penetrating intelligence to bear on temporal and spiritual issues. His style was vigorous and lucid, if rarely graceful. As a general critic, he wrote voluminously on religion, philosophy, society and politics, literature, and education. The central concern of his Catholic years was to clarify the relation between Christianity and civilization, and between Church and State, and to define the limits of freedom and authority.

The American Republic is of central importance as a summation of his political philosophy. While he had rejected transcendentalism prior to his conversion to the Catholic Church, he did not abandon his reliance on intuition, and it is generally agreed that from to he was an ontologist in the sense rejected by the Catholic Church in Scholarly opinion remains divided whether he was an ontologist after his conversion. Any just evaluation of the Catholic Brownson as a political and social thinker must recognize the fundamental changes of emphasis in various periods.

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From to Brownson's emphasis was conservative and traditional. In repudiating his earlier vision of an earthly Utopia, he seemed also to abandon any attempt at mediating between the Church and contemporary society. From to , however, he increasingly sympathized with those European Catholic thinkers whose political and social views were liberal, as his essays on Lacordaire and Catholic Progress and Civil and Religious Freedom make abundantly clear.

His return, from until his death, to a conservative position is largely accounted for by his belief that the Syllabus of Errors, published with the encyclical Quanta cura in December of , was a condemnation of such views as he had expressed for the previous ten years. Weary and in failing health, Brownson accepted the interpretation given the Syllabus by his severest critics, and for the rest of his life did penance for his liberal period. While Brownson at various periods of his life was denounced by liberals for his conservatism and by conservatives for his liberalism, the real task of criticism is to evaluate the dialectical relation between the conservative and liberal elements in his thought and to see both in historical context.

As journalist and critic, Brownson tried to bring enduring principles into a dynamic relation with the great issues of his time. Yet he saw the Church as tied to no social or political forms merely because they were old; he stressed the Church's constant mission of renewal and the responsibilities of Catholics on the level of culture and civilization. The Brownson papers are available to scholars in the library of the University of Notre Dame. Brownson, in , and to his granddaughter, the author and catechist Josephine Van Dyke Brownson, in Bibliography: The Works of Orestes A.

Brownson, ed. New York — Brownson: A Pilgrim's Progress. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. RYAN, A. October 8, Retrieved October 08, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

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Orestes Augustus Brownson was an American clergyman, transcendentalist, and social activist. He passed through the whole range of American religion, from nebulous Unitarianism to firmly disciplined Catholicism. Orestes A. Brownson was born in Stockbridge, Vt. He was entrusted to the care of neighbors after his father died and his mother could not support him. Brownson grew up on a small farm, educated only by his own reading; farm work toughened him and self-education trained his mind.

From the start, his bent was toward the church. In he became a Presbyterian, but he was uncomfortable with the Presbyterian doctrines of election and reprobation. Universalism, on the other hand, preached that all men could be saved and that over the universe presided a loving rather than a just God. In he became a Universalist minister. The following year Brownson married Sally Healy and embarked on a restless pastorate. He preached in Vermont, New Hampshire , and upstate New York , seeking not only the ideal pulpit but the ideal theology.

In he became the editor of a church paper, the Gospel Advocate. But he gradually developed doubts about Universalism too, questioning Christ's divinity, the Bible's authenticity, and the idea of eternal life.

The one denomination more open than Universalism was Unitarianism, so from he served as a Unitarian minister. In he shook off this last affiliation and formed his own congregation in Boston.

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Significantly, the new congregation was made up of poor people. Brownson had shown increasing interest in social action, particularly in bettering the condition of New England 's urban poor. Before forming his Boston church, he had been a socialist and had helped set up the Workingmen's party. Now he found that he could make his best contribution not through political activity but through the church. Brownson founded the Boston Quarterly Review in It outraged many New England conservatives by attacking inherited wealth, harsh criminal codes, and organized religion and espousing the cause of the poor and the Democratic party.

In he merged his magazine with the Democratic Review; the merger proved unsuccessful, and 2 years later he reestablished his own journal as Brownson's Quarterly Review. Meanwhile, though he remained an individualist, he found friends and allies among members of the transcendentalist movement.

Their rather vague philosophy had little appeal for him, but he admired their unconventional stance and joined in their occasional efforts at social reform. Brownson sent his son Orestes to the transcendentalist commune Brook Farm. In Brownson's supporters experienced a shock.


The man they had systematically identified with individualism and dissent suddenly joined the Roman Catholic Church. He embraced his new denomination with more ardor than he had shown for any other, becoming that classic figure, the convert with more zeal than any cradle Catholic. Brownson's conversion dealt a blow to the Review, which lost many Protestant and agnostic readers but failed to add many Catholic ones.

Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography
Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography
Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography
Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography Orestes Augustus Brownson - A Short Biography
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