Paul Blanshard

Paul Blanshard books and biography


Paul Blanshard

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Paul Beecher Blanshard (often misspelled "Blanchard") (1892-1980) a native of Ohio and a graduate of the University of Michigan who later lived in Vermont, was an American journalist of the mid-20th century, specializing in political and religious topics.

A descendant of three generations of Protestant clergymen, Blanshard was trained in both theology and law, and was a member of the New York bar. He was an ordained Congregational minister and, before 1933, a Socialist activist. Under Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, he was head of the New York City Department of Investigations and Accounts and attracted national attention with his exposures of graft. From 1942 to 1946 he was a State Department official in Washington and the Caribbean. His fraternal twin Brand Blanshard was an eminent academic philosopher.

Blanshard was an associate editor of the left-wing weekly The Nation and served during the 1950s as that magazine's special correspondent in Rome. His most famous writing was a series of articles attacking the Roman Catholic Church in America as a dangerous, powerful and undemocratic institution. He wrote:

"There is no doubt that the American Catholic hierarchy has entered the political arena, and that it is becoming more and more aggressive in extending the frontiers of Catholic authority into the fields of medicine, education and foreign policy. As we shall see in this book, the Catholic hierarchy in this country has great power as a pressure group, and no editor, politician, publisher, merchant or motion-picture producer can express defiance openly - or publicize documented facts - without risking his future." (p.4)

The book version circulated widely, selling 300,000 copies. It had political repercussions, as federal aid to Catholic schools for auxiliary services (like busing) was defeated in Congress in 1949, and Eleanor Roosevelt publicly fought Cardinal Spellman on the matter. His next book Communism, Democracy, and Catholic Power (1951) outlined the "fundamental resemblance between the Vatican and the Kremlin" in a further effort to show Catholicism was incompatible with American ideals. He became an atheist, saying in 1972 that "Christianity is so full of fraud that any honest man should repudiate the whole shebang and espouse atheism." (New York Times obituary, 1-30-1980)



  • 1947. Democracy and Empire in the Caribbean.
  • 1949. American Freedom and Catholic Power. Beacon Press.
  • 1951. Communism, Democracy, and Catholic Power
  • 1954. The Irish and Catholic Power.
  • 1955. The Right to Read. Beacon Press.
  • 1966. Paul Blanshard on Vatican II. Beacon Press.


  • John Courtnay Murray, "Paul Blanshard and the New Nativism" (1951) short essay by leading Catholic theologian.
  • Brand Blanshard, "My Brother Paul." Church and State, vol. XXXIII, no. 3 (March, 1980): 12-14.
  • Barbara Welter, "From Maria Monk to Paul Blanshard: A Century of Protestant Anti-Catholicism." In Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America, Robert N. Bellah

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