Orestes Brownson: Pioneer

Eric Scheske
2 min readMar 13, 2022

A Life of Orestes Brownson in Five Parts: Part Four

Part One: The Forgotten Transcendentalist

Part Two: The Prized Convert

Part Three: The Inflammatory Public Philosopher

Part Four: His Influence

Pioneer Catholic

If a person looks at maps of the world by early cartographers, he is struck by two inconsistent things: Their grotesquely disproportionate geographical features and their accurate geographical features. Looking at the maps with the benefit of another five hundred years of exploration and enhanced tools for observation (like airplanes), the maps are poor. But looking at the maps from the early cartographers’ vantage point, their accuracy is impressive.

Brownson is the intellectual Gerardus Mercator of nineteenth-century America. He was the first of a species: The American Catholic. There were earlier American Catholics, but they were more American than Catholic, more Catholic than American, or gave little thought to either. Brownson was fully both: American and Catholic. Moreover, he was one of America’s earliest political philosophers and was the first American scholar to apply the question of the origin and ground of government to the American experiment.[i]

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Eric Scheske

Former editor of Gilbert Mag and columnist for NC Register and Busted Halo. Freelance for many print pubs. Publishes here every Monday+. Paid Medium Member.