The American Republic: CONSTITUTION, TENDENCIES, AND DESTINY

 
9781588275257: The American Republic: CONSTITUTION, TENDENCIES, AND DESTINY

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From the Inside Flap:

ORESTES BROWNSON’S 1865 book, The American Republic, ranks with The Federalist and Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America as an indispensable analysis of the American experiment in republican self-government. Reproduced here for the first time in a manner worthy of its importance, replete with its first comprehensive index, Regnery’s edition of this important American classic is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the “constitution, tendencies and destiny,” to quote the book’s subtitle, of the American regime.

With philosophical rigor combined with linguistic beauty and lucidity, Brownson (1803–1876) probed and expanded upon the central thesis the United States was created to answer.

Hamilton in Federalist No. 1 wrote that the American people live with a peculiar destiny: “to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” Browson agreed and, taking advantage of a reflective mood after the bloodshed of the War Between the States, he sought to recover America’s traditions of federalism and personal and religious liberty reconciled with law from “the most marked political tendency of the American people ... since 1825” (the era of Jacksonian plebiscitary rule): “to interpret their government as a pure and simple democracy,” thus casting themselves “from a civilized to a barbaric constitution.”

Brownson maintained that divine providence had bestowed upon every nation a constitution suited to each, and that it was only in careful conformity to this providential constitution that political actors should behave. The American Republic both illustrated the contours of that divine constitution that Brownson contended formed the backbone of the American political experience, and warned against dangerous ideas that threatened to undermine it.

A one-time Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Universalist, humanitarian, Unitarian, and Transcendalist, Brownson spent the last 30 years of his life as a Roman Catholic. Without question, he was one of the most accomplished and illustrious American thinkers of the nineteenth century, and his work and career have invited comparisons to those of the celebrated John Henry Cardinal Newman, who called Brownson “by far the greatest thinker America has ever produced.” Brownson could easily serve as the icon of his age: tumultuous, impetuous, at once delightful and provocative, always fascinating—and always read with profit.

That is particularly true of The American Republic. Brownson’s book is a great intellectual achievement and an important treatment of American political theory.

About the Author:

Orestes Augustus Brownson (16 September 1803 – 17 April 1876) was a New England intellectual and activist, preacher, labor organizer, and noted Catholic convert and writer.

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