Orestes Brownson's The American Republic was first published in 1865. The nation had just survived a Civil War that threatened to destroy the very life of a country less than one hundred years old. In this magisterial work, Brownson emerges as a political realist as well as a theorist. With brilliant and sobering thought Brownson presents his views on the nature, necessityOrestes Brownson's The American Republic was first published in 1865. The nation had just survived a Civil War that threatened to destroy the very life of a country less than one hundred years old. In this magisterial work, Brownson emerges as a political realist as well as a theorist. With brilliant and sobering thought Brownson presents his views on the nature, necessity, extent, authority, origin, and constitution of government in the light of the problems caused by secession and reconstruction. He urges his countrymen to consider their nation's role and impact on world history as he outlines for them the political and religious destiny of a government with no prototype in any prior constitution. If the Federalist Papers of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay are among the best philosophical expositions of America's form of government at its founding, The American Republic of Brownson ought to enjoy a similar evaluation as a philosophical exposition of the union restored after the Civil War. This assessment is strongly reinforced by a major new evaluation of Brownson's enduring genius -- and continuing relevance -- by noted political philosopher Peter Augustine Lawler. Lawler's introduction constitutes a mini-book in itself, and will enrich the encounter of modern readers with the achievement of Orestes Brownson, a highly original American mind....
|Title||:||The American Republic: Its Constitution, Tendencies, and Destiny|
|Number of Pages||:||279 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The American Republic: Its Constitution, Tendencies, and Destiny Reviews
A surprisingly thoughtful and theoretical approach to politics, given that it's written by one of us Americans :)Brownson discusses America in the context of:1) what a "nation" is2) what a "constitution" is, both written and unwritten3) the relationship between the individual and the nation4) the relationship between the states and the federal government5) the place of God in thinking about politics.Some quotes from the book:-"Church and state, as governments, are separate indeed, but the principles on which the state is founded have their origin and ground in the spiritual order -in the principles revealed or affirmed by religion- and are inseparable from them. There is no state without God, any more than there is a church without Christ or the Incarnation. An atheist may be a politician, but if there were no God there could be no politics. Theological principles are the basis of political principles." (257)-"Its [the United States':] mission is not so much the realization of liberty as the realization of the true idea of the state, which secures at once the authority of the public and the freedom of the individual- the sovereignty of the people without social despotism, and individual freedom without anarchy." (3)-"Tyranny or oppression is not in being subjected to authority, but in being subjected to usurped authority- to a power that has no right t ocommand, or that commands what exceeds its right or its authority... Liberty is violated only when we are required to forego our own will or inclination by a power that has no right to make the requisition; for we are bound to obedience as far as authority has right to govern, and we can never have the right to disobey a rightful command." (16)-"Parties have no conscience, no responsiblity, and their very reason of being is, the usurpation and concentration of power." (175)-"Failure in this world is not always a proof of wrong; nor success, of right. The good is sometimes overborne, and the bad sometimes triumphs; but it is consoling, and even just, to believe that the good oftener triumphs than the bad." (133)
Orestes Brownson in his classic political essay on the origin, constitution or nature of government, lays out a general framework to interpret debates over sovereignty or secession. Living in the north, Orestes came from a modest background. He went through various religious transitions from Unitarian to Presbyterian to Transcendentalist then finally to the Roman Catholic Church where he stayed. He wrote profusely on nearly every subject.The American Republic is a brilliant book that clearly defines the nature or purpose of government, root and branch. Often read for arguments concerning the Civil War, the book is more interesting in terms of providing the general framework for the origins of the government. For the first part of the book Orestes spells out theories in this regard:1: Government originates in the right of the father to govern his child.2: It originates in convention, and is a social compact.3. It originates in the people, who, collectively taken, are sovereign.4. Government springs from the spontaneous development of nature.5. It derives its right from the immediate and express appointment of God.6. From God through the Pope, or visible head of the spiritual society.7. From God through the people.8. From God through the natural law.Orestes studies each of these articles in turn. He rejects the paternalistic understanding in addition to the divine right of kings. He admits that sovereignty lies with God. Therefore, natural law or social contract alone are out. However, government authority comes through the people who constitute the nation-state. So, the people directly or God through the Pope Orestes likewise disputes. He interprets the American Civil War through this lens.America is an established people prior to the conventions of the State. The conclusion follows that when part of the State tears apart the original people who constituted the foundation, the government that existed before the institution of the State is compromised. The State exceeds proper authority on both sides of civil conflicts. A fine line is tread here between the North and the South with regard to the Civil War.Orestes concludes with the North against succession, whereas he acknowledges the grievances of the South. According to Brownson, the Northern states aggressed by State means beyond the authority of the truly sanctioned government, provoking the South to break the covenant that represented immutable authority of God through the people to constitute in the first place.An interesting book that deserves time to understand in the entirety of breadth or depth.
Really a very interesting book. This book which was published after the Civil War is far more ranging than just discussing the American Republic. The first half or so of the book discusses the nature of government and it's authority. It takes a historical look at the subject and views it from multiple angles include as seen by the natural law and by theology. The last half of the book takes on what was certainly the subject of the time regarding whether the individual states were sovereign. His take on it is fascinating as he marshals up his support and talks along peripheral issues. Another interesting aspect is his Catholicism. I recently became interested in him as I have seen him mentioned a couple of times and most recently in Russell Shaw's new book "American Church" Brownson was a convert during a time when that was quite a rarity. A public intellectual who became unabashedly Catholic. The introduction of this book alludes to this and he talks about how Catholicism contributed to his analysis and viewpoint of this book. The last chapter of this book makes more connections along this line. I found many things he had to say dead on and born out by history after he died. His influences were very rich and was able to take multiple sources from history to make his arguments along multiple lines.This is available on Project Gutenberg
Disappointing. I had read that Brownson was a constitutional conservative, and wondered exactly what that meant. He reveals himself in finding theological doctrines expressed through the form and constitution of the republic.
The introduction by Peter Lawler is worth the price of the book.