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Brouillet, John


Missionary; b. near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Dec. 11, 1813; d. Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 1884. He was educated at St. Hyacinth College, Quebec, and was ordained on Aug. 27, 1837. Ten years later he joined Bp. Augustine M. Blanchet in establishing the Diocese of Walla Walla in Oregon Territory. As vicar-general he began his long missionary career at Nesqually and established the mission of Umatilla. He was in the vicinity of Marcus J. Whitman's Presbyterian mission among the Cayuse people when they massacred the minister and his family in 1847. Whitman's associate, Henry H. Spalding, was spared the same fate by Brouillet's timely warning. Spalding, nevertheless, accused Brouillet and other Catholics of being responsible for the attack. A national controversy ensued; Brouillet was not fully vindicated for many years, in spite of his own authoritative book on the matter.

Blanchet and his brother, the bishop of Oregon City, named Brouillet to settle difficulties arising from Pres. U.S. Grant's peace policy, which began in 1868. Brouillet called attention to the inequities to Catholic missions in governmental assignments and the lack of free access to Catholic natives by their missionaries. In 1872 he went to Washington as legal representative of the two bishops and early became an adviser to Gen. Charles Ewing, Catholic commissioner for native affairs. The Grant policy was soon revised in favor of Brouillet's views. Shortly before his death he became director of the Bureau of Indian Missions, largely his own creation. Previous to this he had fostered various missionary aid associations, often in the face of apathy and militant opposition. In 1879 in Rome he won from Leo XIII a recommendation to the American bishops for the bureau's unified program. When the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore authorized an annual collection in all dioceses, continued existence of the bureau was assured.

Bibliography: p. j. rahill, The Catholic Indian Missions and Grant's Peace Policy 18701884 (Washington 1953).

[t. o. hanley]

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