Religion and the Public Schools in 19th Century America: The Contribution of Orestes A. Brownson

Religion and the Public Schools in 19th Century America: The Contribution of Orestes A. Brownson

Religion and the Public Schools in 19th Century America: The Contribution of Orestes A. Brownson

Religion and the Public Schools in 19th Century America: The Contribution of Orestes A. Brownson

Synopsis

The Contribution of Orestes A. Brownson, Edward J. Power. An appraisal of orestes Brownson's ideas and their infuence on nineteenth-century public and Catholic education in the United States.

Excerpt

Several years ago I wrote four articles on the educational views and attitudes of Orestes Brownson for The Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia. Since the appearance of those articles, a revisionist historical literature has become popular and practitioners of revisionism, while by no means concentrating upon educational history, have nevertheless adverted to it. Revisionists have noticed Brownson's approach to nineteenth-century education, and especially to Catholic schools and colleges. As is common with revisionism in educational history, schools, classrooms, teachers, and an educational theory pertaining to them are melded with broad, often inchoate, social themes. It is, in consequence, hard to know where a genuine educational history begins or ends.

Building upon the foundation set in my earlier articles, I am using this monograph to report on Brownson's general theory of education and his sometimes critical appraisal of public and Catholic schools in the United States. At the same time, because Brownson and John Henry Cardinal Newman were contemporaries and because Brownson has often been compared with Newman as a prominent and eloquent spokesman on education, I am tempted to inquire into Brownson's stature as an American counterpart to Newman. My conclusion is partial and tentative, for I choose not to overburden this monograph by making it a comparative study.

The late Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C., when the University of Notre Dame's archivist, graciously and generously allowed me complete use of the Brownson Archival Collection for my work on the articles. I have used many of the same documents in this monograph.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the generous support of Boston College toward the preparation and publication of this monograph.

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