Orestes Brownson (1803–1876), Catholic educator and publicist, became the leading Catholic intellectual of nineteenth-century America despite his lack of formal schooling. He was a self-educated, extremely religious man who had yearned for and struggled to find religious certitude. When he converted to Catholicism in 1844, he believed he had found the religion he needed and the one America needed to achieve and preserve national greatness. In addition, he believed it was his scholarly duty to do everything possible to bring about the moral, religious, intellectual, and social improvement of Americans, and especially of Catholics. 1 He advocated the advancement of society through education.