American Philosophy

St. Louis Hegelians

What happened to the founders of the St. Louis Philosophical Society?

They went on to distinctive careers. Henry C. Brokmeyer (1826–1906) set up a law office and was elected to the Missouri Senate. He composed the Missouri constitution in 1875, became lieutenant governor, and was acting governor from 1876 to 1877. Then he moved farther west, lived with the Creek Indians, and attempted to get his translation of Friedrich Hegel’s (1770–1831) Science of Logic (1812) published, which he never did. He ended up whittling wood and making toothpicks, which he brought to St. Louis to sell.

William Harris (1835–1909) became a journalist and lecturer, head of the Concord school, and Missouri’s first commissioner of education. Denton Jacques Snider (1841–1925) wrote more than 60 books, including the intellectual history of the St. Louis Hegelians. He taught from kindergarten to college level at the Communal University of Chicago, and set forth his “Sniderian psychology” in 10 volumes. Snider’s most famous work is The St. Louis Movement in Philosophy, Literature, Education, Psychology (1920).

Thomas Davidson (1840–1900), who was another early member of the St. Louis Society, founded the Breadwinner’s College in New York City and a summer school in Glenmore, New York, where he later lived.


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