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Orestes A. Brownson (1803-1876)


One branch of the John Brownson, Jr.ís (1602-1680) descendants settled in Waterbury, Connecticut. Some from there later moved to New Britain (Hartford County), Connecticut.[1] One of the New Britain Brownsons was Sylvester Brownson (1768-1805). He was the father of Orestes A. Brownson and a third great-grandson descendant from John Brownson, Jr. Sylvester joined Ethan Allen, also a Connecticut Yankee, in the squatter movement in Vermont. Allen himself was married into the Brownsons. His wife was Mary Brownson, the daughter of Cornelius Brownson. He married her in 1762 in Judea parish, Woodbury Connecticut.


A Vermont historian described the squatter movement:


This process [i.e., acquisition of Vermont land] was greatly abetted by Ethan Allen. . . who persuaded the Connecticut people that they would be well advised, once the Indian wars were over in 1763, to think of moving to Vermont, and many did, as the repetition of Connecticut place names attests. You paid Ethan Allen for a right or privilege, settled down, then waited for Ethan to defend you, which he did, sometimes against the Yorkers, and sometimes against the less aggressive New Hampshire men, sometimes against both. Ethanís Green Mountain Boy may or may not have been the scourge of the British later on they are reputed to have been, but they performed valiantly against all and sundry who would disturb the nebulous land title of Vermont. And however questionable the whole enterprise in the law, it got Vermont populated, and provided a place for excess Connecticut population.[2]


††††††† Orestes A. Brownson began life as a Congregationalist. In 1826 he was ordained a Univeralist minister. Later he converted to Catholicism.. He worked as a newspaper editor and writer. He emphasized literary, philosophical and religious issues. He was more Catholic than the pope. At the same time, as an ďAnglo-Saxon,Ē he tended to side with the Know-Nothings against the Irish Catholics. The Celtics had little use for him.[3]

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[1]Thomas Ryan, Orestes A. Brownson: A Definitive Biography (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1976), p. 16.

[2]Daniel Stiles, quoted in Ryan, Ibid.

[3]Ryan, Orestes A. Brownson, p. 473.