Brownson, Orestes Augustus (ôrĕsˈtēz, brounˈsən) [key], 1803–76, American author and clergyman, b. Stockbridge, Vt. Largely self-taught, he became a vigorous and influential writer on social and religious questions. He was a Presbyterian, but left that church to become first a Universalist and then a sort of free-lance minister, working for such socialistic schemes as the short-lived Workingmen's Party. Later he was a Unitarian minister until in 1836 he started his own church, the Society for Christian Union and Progress. As founder and editor of the Boston Quarterly Review (1838–42) and as editor of the Democratic Review (1842–44), he condemned social inequalities. At this time he was one of the transcendentalists and was so interested in Brook Farm as to send his son there. He entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1844, and later, as editor of the new Brownson's Quarterly Review, he was a vigorous defender of the Church. Among his books are New Views of Christianity, Society, and the Church (1836); two autobiographical novels, Charles Elwood; or, The Infidel Converted (1840) and The Convert (1857); and The American Republic (1865).
See biography by his son, Henry F. Brownson (3 vol., 1898–1900), who also edited his works (20 vol., 1882–87, repr. 1966), biographies by A. Schlesinger, Jr. (1939, repr. 1966) and T. Maynard (1943, repr. 1971); studies by L. Gilhooley (1980) and T. R. Ryan (1984).
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