The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35 - Vol. 2

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35 - Vol. 2

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35 - Vol. 2

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35 - Vol. 2

Excerpt

Volume one of Orestes A. Brownson's early writings marked his years as a Universalist minister and concluded with his with drawal from the ministry and Universalism. This second volume covers the period from 1830, immediately after his departure from Universalism, to 1836, the beginning of his ministry with the working classes in Boston—a period of intellectual ferment and transition for Brownson. He began 1830 as a skeptic and a supporter of the workingmen's cause, but by the end of 1830, under the influence of William Ellery Channing's works, he abandoned his self-acknowledged skepticism and returned to the Christian ministry. In 1831 and thereafter he aligned himself with Channing's Unitarianism and gradually moved toward a Romantic world view that rejected or modified some of the Enlightened (or quasi-rationalist) religious perspectives of his Universalist years.

Throughout this intellectual sojourn, Brownson and his family, which grew from two to four sons, moved from Auburn to Leroy to Ithaca, New York (1830-32), to Walpole, New Hampshire (183234), to Canton, Massachusetts (1834-36), and finally to Mount Bellingham in Chelsea, Massachusetts (1836). His movement intellectually and geographically prepared him for the Transcendentalist battles that were to take place in Boston during 1836. Indeed these years of study and preparation were a significant part of his development as a Christian thinker. Gradually he became more widely known in urban Unitarian circles and eventually he became one of the young Unitarian ministers who participated in the Transcendentalist Club of Boston—even though he remained an outsider to the social and educated elite of Boston.

Brownson was a part of that generation of Americans who, born around the turn of the century, separated themselves from what they called the stationary party in favor of their own movement party, the party of reform and change in things religious, political, and social. They envisioned themselves as participants in a new American reformation in sensibilities, and called for a renewal of church and society that reflected these new feelings. This volume contains something of the intellectual struggle that Brownson underwent in moving toward a new set of religious and social affections.

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