Brackenridge, Hugh Henry

Brackenridge, Hugh Henry,

1748–1816, American author and jurist, b. Scotland, grad. Princeton, 1771. He studied theology and served in the American Revolution as chaplain, but later turned to law. His early writings include two patriotic plays and some verse. In 1781 he moved to Pittsburgh, where he founded (1786) the Pittsburgh Gazette, the city's first newspaper, and helped to establish the Pittsburgh Academy (now the Univ. of Pittsburgh). A leading Pennsylvania supporter of the federal Constitution, Brackenridge later acted (1794) as a peacemaker in the Whiskey Rebellion. He was also a justice of the Pennsylvania supreme court from 1799 to his death. He is, however, best known as an author. His satirical and picaresque novel, Modern Chivalry (6 vol., 1792–1805; rev. ed., 4 vol., 1804–7), written in a vigorous style, pictures backwoods life in America. In it, the moderate democrat Brackenridge ridicules the excesses of a raw democracy. He also wrote an account of the Whiskey Rebellion and several political tracts.


See C. M. Newlin, Life and Writings of Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1932, repr. 1971); biography by D. Marder (1967).

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Brackenridge, Hugh Henry

(1748–1816) author, judge; born in Campbeltown, Scotland. He was brought to the U.S.A. at age five. A Princeton-educated chaplain who wrote two patriotic dramas during the American Revolution, he turned to the study and practice of law before settling in Pittsburgh. He later helped establish the first newspaper and bookstore in frontier Pittsburgh. A Pennsylvania assemblyman and Supreme Court justice, he is best known for Modern Chivalry (1792–1815), regarded as the first novel based in the American West and still a pertinent satire of the social and political conditions of the era.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.