Jesuit Online Bibliography

The New World of the New Society of Jesus: Giovanni Antonio Grassi and his Notizie sullo stato presente della Repubblica degli Stati Uniti (1818)

Book Title:
La Compagnie de Jésus des Anciens Régimes au monde contemporain (XVIII-XX siècles)
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Book Chapter
Ecole Française de Rome
Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu
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This essay examines the figure of Giovanni Antonio Grassi (1775-1849), from Bergamo, Italy, and a member of the suppressed Society of Jesus, who spent several years in the United States in the lead up to the Society's Restoration (1810-17). Grassi was deeply involved in this phase of Jesuit activities and devoted himself above all to the reorganization of Georgetown University, with a policy of openness to new methods of teaching and admission of students that led to the great success of the institution. In addition, the essay analyses the text, Notizie varie sullo stato presente della Repubblica degli Stati Uniti, published on Grassi's return to Italy in 1818 and republished twice in subsequent years. In this short pamphlet, Grassi outlines the distinctive characteristics of the new American Republic by providing different examples, from economic statistics to observations about customs. For the Italian reader, the text highlights the difficulties for prospective immigrants of settling into American society because of its modernity. At the same time, it highlights the freedom that the Catholic Church could enjoy thanks to the American constitutional system that had no state religion and the co-existence of numerous denominations.

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