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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, 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.