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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:44:53 EDT by admin, 82466 views
Library of Congress
History paper by Nyírády, Kenneth (all papers)
Francis Bowen, "War of Races in Hungary," and a Lost Harvard Professorship
In February 1851 the Board of Overseers of Harvard University voted against confirming Francis Bowen as McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History. Bowen, the editor of the prestigious literary journal North American Review, the year before had written and published two articles highly critical of Hungary’s revolution and war of independence of 1848-49, resulting in a war of words, attacks and counterattacks, that carried over onto the pages of a few Boston newspapers, the Christian Examiner, and even the New York Tribune. In his articles, Bowen ignored the reforms that took place beginning in March 1848 and considered the Hungarian declaration of independence the following year nothing more than an attempt of the nobility to continue its subjugation of the non-Hungarian population without Austrian interference. Bowen was accused not only of besmirching the motives of the Hungarian patriots, but also of shoddy scholarship and plagiarism. His main adversary was Mary Lowell Putnam, a polymath who was one of the few Americans at that time who knew Hungarian. Putnam was joined by Robert Carter, an editor and lifelong friend of Putnam’s brother, the poet James Russell Lowell. There were political implications here as well; Bowen was a conservative Whig at a time when the coalition of the Democratic and Free Soil parties was temporarily ascendant in Massachusetts politics. As it turned out, Bowen was not out of favor for long; in 1853 Harvard confirmed him as Alford professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy and Civil Polity, a position he held for the next thirty-six years.
Brief Professional Bio:
Kenneth Nyirady is Reference Specialist for Hungary in the European Division, Library of Congress, a position he has held since 1990. From 1983 to 1990 he was a research analyst in the Library's Federal Research Division. He received an M.A. in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1976, and an M. Phil. in Uralic Studies from Columbia University in 1979.