Orestes Brownson on the Democratic Principle and the Fourteenth Amendment
American Political Thought
In this article we analyze Orestes Brownson’s opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment in light of his opposition to slavery, rejection of Southern secession, and support for the Thirteenth Amendment. We argue that his principled opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment derives from the same logic as the earlier positions he appears to contradict. To explicate his opposition, we place it within his broader understanding of the American constitutional order. Brownson thought that the Fourteenth Amendment would do little for African Americans, only enhancing the entrenched powers of Northern business elites while undermining the American republic. Brownson attributed the push for the amendment to the unfolding of what he called humanitarian democracy and the democratic principle. He argued that the democratic principle, once institutionalized within the legal framework of the American republic, would lead to the leveling of social and political institutions and the centralization of governmental authority to enforce that equality.
Bartky, Elliot and Clouse, Stephen, "Orestes Brownson on the Democratic Principle and the Fourteenth Amendment" (2020). NIU Bibliography. 580.
Department of Political Science