"Our American Boast"
"Writing shortly after the Civil War, Orestes Brownson could say that it was a remarkable achievement of the American polity to bring into existence a modern state that recognizes a 'higher law' above itself," writes Russell Hittinger — The Rule of Law and the Law of Nature. More:
- “This is our American boast”—one that is especially justified in contrast to the European states of that era. These states followed the Rousseauvian principle that society is un droit sacré, a holy right. Americans, Brownson argued, refused to submit higher principles to lower powers. They resisted, then, the one extreme of making government an instrument of private interests, as well as the other extreme of making the state the exemplar and judge of moral and spiritual order. He was convinced that Americans had properly located the position of ruling powers because natural law had not been reduced either to order in nature or order in the mind. The natural law “is not a law founded or prescribed by nature, but the law for the moral government of nature, under which all moral natures are placed by the Author of nature as supreme law-giver. The law of nature is God’s law; and whatever rights it founds or are held from it are his rights, and ours only because they are his.”