Pulitzer Prize Winner To Deliver Lecture at Brown

Professor David Kertzer plans to speak the role of the John Carter Brown's older brother, Nicholas, in the Roman Revolution of 1848.

Attention, history buffs.

David Kertzer, a Brown professor and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for his book The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, is coming back to Brown to share some of his latest research.

Kertzer's latest project is about the Roman Revolution of 1848, and it has ties to Providence. He spent most of the fall researching in the French diplomatic archives, and will be working in Rome next semester. 

He's back in town because he has been recognized by Brown President Christina Paxson with the Presidential Faculty Award, which is given to one professor a semester for innovative scholarship, and he will give a public lecture Thursday at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown.

Kertzer plans to reveal the crucial role that John Carter Brown’s older brother, Nicholas Brown, played in the Roman Revolution of 1848. At the time, the United States didn’t offer diplomatic recognition to the Papal States, but did have a consul in Rome. Nicholas Brown, whose father Brown University was named for, was appointed in 1846 by the president. 

Brown "he went against American policy, publicly embraced the Roman Republic and came out against the pope, creating a huge diplomatic to-do," Kertzer says.

"When a revolt against ecclesiastical rule drove the pope from Rome in 1848 and a democratic republic was pronounced, Brown — proclaiming the United States stood for the rights of the people to democratic government — very publicly backed the new Roman Republic, while all the other ambassadors fled with the pope and backed the armed intervention for foreign powers (France, Austria especially), which would bloodily return the pope to power in 1849.

Brown did this despite the fact that the United States Secretary of State, to whom he reported, told him not to take sides in the battle. Brown also played an important role in providing U.S. passports to many of the leaders of the revolt to allow them to escape the ensuing papal repression."

The free public lecture will take place at at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 3.  John Carter Brown Library, 94 George St., Providence, 401-863-2725, jcbl.org.