64. Nature of Liberalism 65. Economic Revolutions 66. British Catholic Emancipation (1778-1829) 67. American Secular Revolution (1776-1815) 68. American Ecclesiastical Origins (1774-1815)



§64. N

  Lay Council, Med. illum. ms.



A. Liberalism in General






Liberalism, according to common usage since the French Revolution, has in general connoted freedom of the individual human spirit from social tyranny. The term itself seems to have first been used in 1811 to designate advocates of the new Spanish Constitution, an imitation of the revolutionary French document of 1791. It remains, indeed, an elusive and shifting designation, for though at first it suggested chiefly revolutionary liberation from something, once established, more recent “Welfare Liberalism” argues about freedom for something. Certain generic characteristics, however, can be predicated of this movement in its historical setting. Following Dr. Neill,1these may be enumerated for “Integral Liberalism,” or Liberalism in general:

(1) strongly bourgeois [middle-class, materialistic] membership;

(2) capitalistic economic theory;

(3) nonconformist [dismissive] attitude toward religion;

(4) a reverence for property;

(5) a preference for empirical, scientific knowledge;

(6) optimism;

(7) rationalism; and

(8) a faith in the possibility of unlimited progress.

1Thomas Neill, Rise and Decline of Liberalism (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1953), pp. 12, 16-21.

A. Idealisticistic or Ecumenical Liberalism

Idealisticistic or Ecumenical Liberalism, however, stands for a vague generosity of spirit or liberality  of mind. “Liberalism, we are told, is not a creed, a doctrine, a system; it is a way of life, a,  a spirit, a habit of mind, a Weltanschauung, a kind of religion, a belief in

the natural dignity of man,

in his high destiny,

in his ability to perfect himself through natural reason and self-determination,

in the ultimate triumph of truth, justice, and freedom.’

It is the ‘consciousness which the free man has of his rights and of his duties as well. It stands for

loftiness of views,

for generosity of sentiment;

it is based on the ideal that humanity . . . can be enlightened by discussion and improved by the very experience of its errors. 2

2 Raymond Corrigan, S.J., The Church and the Nineteenth Century (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1938), pp. 27-28.




Briefly, it may be said that Liberalism’s-justification or condemnation lies in whether it repudiates the abuse of authority, or the very principle of authority itself; whether it distinguishes between infallible divine authority enjoining immutable divine law in the human conscience, or fallible human government legislating on matters of changing opinion. Liberalism can stand for the glorious tradition of Western Civilization resisting despotism in the spirit of Herodotus: “Though the Greeks are freemen, they are not free in every respect. Law is the master they own, and this master they fear more than thy subjects fear you.” Widely as they may have differed on other points, on such grounds even Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt might find themselves in agreement. Yet since the French Revolution, Integral Liberalism—Liberalism unqualified as to species or degree—has indeed taken on a pejorative sense in Church history, even if not always deserving of Sarda y Salvani’s uncompromising phrase: “Liberalismo es pecado.” For many liberals have not understood the classic tradition of “Christian Humanism” and have been betrayed into sweeping denunciations of all authority, a course which repudiates true Liberalism as well. Luther and Calvin can be cited both for as well as against religious despotism; Rousseau was parent alike of Democracy and Fascism; Kant can lead to Nietzsche; some of Adam Smith’s disciples made of his tenets a code of economic oppression; and that great alleged champion of the common man, Marxism-Leninism, admits that it involves the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Because of these manifold senses and nuances of Liberalism, accuracy demands a more thorough inquiry into specific types of Liberalism in the intellectual, political and economic orders.

B. Theological Liberalism



B. Theological Liberalism






Nature. It is of course theological Liberalism which chiefly falls under the condemnation of the Church. In modern times Liberal challenges to dogma appeared under the guise of Indifferentism, Rationalism and Modernism. Such theological Liberalism, according to Cardinal Newman,[p.398] involves “false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon matters in which, from the constitution of the human mind, thought cannot be brought to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place. Among such matters are first principles of whatever kind; and of these the most sacred and momentous are especially to be reckoned the truths of Revelation. Liberalism, then, is the mistake  of subjecting to human judgment those revealed doctrines which are in their nature beyond and independent of it and of claiming to determine on intrinsic grounds the truth and value of propositions which rest for their reception on the external authority of the Divine Word.” 3

3 John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1897), note A, p. 288.

Historically, during the period now under survey, Pope Pius VI condemned the aberrations of the Synod of Pistoia by Auctorem Fidei (1794); Leo XII warned against various rationalist “Bible Societies” in Ubi Primum (1824) ; Gregory XVI rejected both the Indifferentism of Lammenais (1832) and the Rationalism of Hermes (1835), while Pius IX summed up for reprobation all the latitudinarian errors in his Syllabus Errorum (1864) . Finally, after reaffirming Catholic teaching on Faith and reason, the Vatican Council during 1870 flung the definition of papal infallibility in the face of both dogmatic Liberals and Catholic opportunists.




Nature. Somewhat less definitely anti-Catholic was the Liberal challenge to discipline as expressed in anticlericalism. Ostensibly it was not a question here of outright denial of a divinely constituted hierarchy, so much as a charge that individual clerics were abusing their sacred office on behalf of politics, or opposing social progress through reactionary attachment to the Old Regime. Doubtless an academic distinction can be drawn between opposition to clerics as individuals and that to the clergy as the Church’s official ministers. In practice, however, it is ever difficult to pursue such distinctions without error. As a matter of fact, however, much professed “anticlericalism” was a Liberal disguise for anti-Catholicism: Courdaroux admitted to the masonic lodge at Lille in 1879 that, however useful a distinction might be for propaganda purposes, “let us admit here among ourselves that Catholicism and clericalism are but one.”

Influence. Still it must be admitted that some clerics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did meddle in politics. In Latin lands especially, the clergy tended to remain uncompromising monarchists, basking in and later harking back to the privileged status of the Old Regime. But in so doing the majority were seeking to uphold ecclesiastical rights [p. 399] over morality, .education, matrimony, etc., which the liberal war on “throne and altar” endangered. Insofar as the Liberal  program usually embraced divorce civil marriage, secular schools, and unlimited tolerance of blasphemy, immorality, and falsity, this majority can scarcely be blamed for their attitude. Some of these clerics, it is true, were more attached to the material perquisites of their profession, and this minority by their excesses exposed the whole body to attack. It was possible, then, for some anticlericals, in their indignation against real abuses or selfishness to be more or less in good faith during the early stages of an anticlerical campaign.

C.Philosophical iberalism



C. Philosophical Liberalism






Cartesianism, which inaugurated “modern” philosophy, had been initially an attempt to safeguard rational certitude against the Scepticism of Cusa and Montaigne. Yet, as has been already noted, this Cartesian quest for philosophic security had terminated in the new and more destructive Scepticism of David Hume by the close of the eighteenth century. Liberal philosophy then resumed its search for absolute certitude with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Despairing of any certitude derived from metaphysical reality, Kant proceeded to erect an ivory tower of Idealism, protected by subjective postulates designed to safeguard morality: a “categoric imperative” assured men of the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and freedom of the will. Unfortunately this meant—and this tendency is clearer in Kant’s disciples—that these are postulates of “practical reason,” eventually of the will, or belief, or sentiment, and cannot be demonstrated to have objective validity. This Idealistic Agnosticism of the Kantian type, moreover, according to its conceptualist view of the universal, reduced it to a subjective category, destroyed the basis of systematic knowledge, threatened, if logically applied, to render science individual and subjective. Hence modern man was given no philosophical explanation of his natural certitude regarding the objectivity of principles.

Over against Kant’s Idealistic Subjectivism appeared an empirical “Sociology” of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who issued a clarion call for unification of all science in and for humanitarianism. Rejecting alike Revelation and metaphysics, his science of man would be pure biology. In 1851 he set forth a plan for a “Statolatry”: twenty thousand sociologist-priests under a high priest at Paris would administer the nine positivist sacraments—the last to be conferred seven years after the subject’s death! The pure doctrine of Comte was scarcely implemented, but it cannot be denied that through disciples and imitators much of it was rephrased and widely accepted. [p. 400]

Reconciliation of the Kantian school of Individualism, with the positivist cult of Sociologism became the great dilemma for philosophic Liberalism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Despairing of any immediate fusion of enlightened Egoism with social Utilitarianism, Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) espoused evolutionary ethical standards and relegated absolute morality to some indefinite future. Before the formulation of this ideal code, however, Liberals were dismayed to observe widespread renunciation of individual freedom under totalitarian dictatorships.




“The only thing that can be said to the credit of the so-called Liberal philosophers is that ever since 1850 most of them have realized that the recent extension of positive science to social facts was bound to bring about this new fatalism... . Unfortunately, themselves the sons of Kant and Hume, they had lost faith in the rational validity of all metaphysical knowledge. Thus, left without any set of philosophical convictions concerning man, his nature, and his destiny, they had nothing wherewith to oppose the progressive encroachments of science on the field of human facts. This is the reason why, for want of a rational metaphysics by which the use of science could be regulated, the Liberal philosophers had no other choice than to attack science itself and weaken its absolute rationality. The source of modern Agnosticism is the fear of scientific determinism in the hearts of men who, by breaking metaphysical Rationalism, had broken the very backbone of human liberty... 4

4 Etienne Gilson, Unity of Philosophical Experience (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937), p. 291.

D. Political Liberalism



D. Political Liberalism






In its essence true Liberalism is associated neither with ‘progressivism’ nor with ‘conservatism.’ When the existing regime is dominated by autocracy or despotism, the followers of liberalism are ardent reformers and demand rapid and widespread political changes. When, on the other hand, a country has a free and democratic government and this government seems threatened by a drift towards autocracy and despotism, the true liberal is a conservative, resisting all efforts to overthrow the existing regime. . . . To the present writer it seems clear that Liberalism as a political creed is a compound of two separate elements. One of these elements is Democracy, the other is Individualism. Not infrequently these two elements are confused because of their long association inside the Liberal tradition, but it is well to keep the two doctrines [p.401] clearly separate and distinct. Democracy, of course, means the belief that ultimate political control should rest with the citizens of the country concerned and more particularly with the numerical majority of such citizens, rather than be entrusted permanently to a single person or to any minority group. . . . To be sharply distinguished from Democracy is the doctrine of Individualism, which implies the right of each person to control his actions as long as he does not seriously interfere with the liberty or the actions of others.” 5

5 William McGovern, From Luther to Hitler (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941), p. 10.




Political Liberalism is predominantly of Anglo-Saxon origin. Without doubt Anglo-Saxon constitutional theory owed much to Greek and Christian antecedents, but the European Continent shared these influences as well. It was in England that Scholastic democracy, however altered, had a chance to maintain a fairly continuous tradition which resisted and survived the continental vogue of Absolutism. The contest with Stuart’s “divine right” illusions evoked defenders of parliamentary constitutionalism, and their utterances were crystallized in the political bible of John Locke. French political writers were not ashamed to acknowledge their indebtedness to Locke, and the Founding Fathers of the American Republic made him their text—though probably deriving more from their practical colonial experience. Self-government, moreover, had always survived to a degree in the English countryside, to be reborn on the American frontier. The economic revolutions that destroyed the nobles’ monopoly of politics prepared the way for a broadening of the suffrage in England, though classes admitted to political influence often showed little zeal in extending its benefits to those below them on the political ladder—if they did not actually kick over the ladder. Meanwhile on the Continent, the French “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen” had destroyed forever the bases of the Old Regime—the concessions and the failures of the restored monarchs demonstrate this. For good or ill, the will of the people would henceforth have to be consulted, even if its wishes were not always followed, or even “interpreted” or perverted by demagogues and dictators. Democracy, finally, became such a magic word that even totalitarian dictatorships had to claim to be “democratic”; however, a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” if it has not perished from the earth, has by no means won its struggle for existence. [p. 402]

E. Economic Liberalism



E. Economic Liberalism






Corresponding to the political age of absolutism had been an equally prevalent adherence to the economic theory of Mercantilism, the minute governmental regulation of economic life. But François Quesnay (1694-1744) and his school of “Physiocrats” came to oppose this notion with the argument that governmental authority was merely a necessary evil and therefore ought to be curbed as much as possible. Instead, government should give individual liberty and initiative free rein. The Physiocrats employed the term laissez faire, and one of their number, Turgot, was minister of King Louis XVI from 1774 to 1776. In the latter year, moreover, appeared Adam Smith’s book, Wealth of Nations, which gave greater currency to similar doctrines in Great Britain. “All systems, either of preference or restraint, being thus completely taken away,” he concluded, “the simple and obvious system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord.” In its economic aspect, the American Revolution of the same year was a breach in Mercantilism. As soon as the French Revolution got under way, the most radical economic Liberalism was for a time proclaimed. Thus during 1791 the Loi Chapelier abolished trade guilds and all professional societies. At first these changes to individual liberty were chiefly of benefit to the new industrial capitalists who easily outdistanced poorer individuals in very non-collective bargaining, while the state remained muzzled.


Theory. “As developed by the classical economists and crystallized in the writings of Senior, economic Liberalism was a mighty prop to the new industrialists. It maintained that the ‘greatest good of the greatest number’ would be promoted by encouraging business enterprise and individual industrial profit, and that such encouragement could best be given through a policy of laissez faire freedom of trade, freedom of contract, freedom of competition, free operation of the ‘laws’ of supply and demand, without interference by government or social groups.” 11

11.Carlton Hayes, Political and Cultural History of Modern Europe (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936), II, 169.

Laissez-faire maxims may be appraised from the following samples: “The natural price of labor is that price which is necessary to enable the laborers to subsist and perpetuate their race without either increase or diminution. . . . There is no means of improving the lot of the worker except by limiting the number of his children. . . . All legislative interference must be pernicious” (Ricardo). “The poverty of the incapable, the distresses that come upon the imprudent, the starvation of the idle, [p. 403] are the decrees of a large, far-seeing benevolence” (Spencer) . “The true gospel concerning wealth . . . is that the law of competition is basic to economic society, divine and irrevocable . . . because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department” (Carnegie). “Godliness is in league with riches. . . . Material prosperity is helping make the national character sweeter, more joyous, more unselfish, more Christlike” (Protestant prelate of Massachusetts, Dr. Lawrence).7

7. Emmet Hughes, The Church and Liberal Society (Princeton University Press, 1944) , pp. 157-58, 200.

    Summary. “If we were to characterize modern Western society in a single word, one such word would unquestionably be . . . of economic relationship . . . of government of the people . . . of religion. . . . Marriage was also made more contractual in its continuity and dissolution; . . . the family tended to become an increasingly contractual institution. . . .”8

8. Pitrim Sorokin, Crisis of Our Age (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1942) , pp. 170 ff.





 Farming, Med. illum. ms.




A. Reign of Humanism (1447-71)









A. Industrial Revolution


Survey of industrial evolution. The first stage was that of the primitive family which co-operated without specialization in supplying all of its needs. This lasted into the early Middle Ages, although there are rare survivals today. The second stage is that of handicraft, when the cultivation of food crops has reached a development sufficient to permit a group of craftsmen to specialize in the making of articles for sale. This stage, flowering during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, requires and stimulates urban growth and improved communications. The craftsman, however, had a limited market and usually sold directly to the customer without a middleman. Skill was more important than capital, and associations known as guilds protected good workmanship and fair dealing. It has been seen that these guild regulations were in an ossified or decadent condition by the sixteenth century. A third stage appeared during the later Middle Ages and has been termed the domestic system. Now capitalists and middlemen increase in importance for supplying raw materials to individual workmen at home, collecting the finished articles, and marketing them. The workers remained their own masters as to time, tools, and working conditions, but they became much more dependent on outside merchants. This system lasted into the eighteenth century and has not yet ceased in all places. A fourth stage was that of the factory where the worker was required to labor on the employer’s terms: in a place and with tools provided by the latter, and under conditions and [p. 404] for wages largely controlled by the capitalist. Although factories existed as early as the days of the Roman Empire, full utilization of such a procedure awaited the introduction of power-driven machinery.

“‘The term, ‘Industrial Revolution,’ was first made popular by Arnold Toynbee who chose it as the title of a course of lectures published after his death in 1884. . . . The industrial transformation of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was marked by two outstanding features, each of which deserves to be qualified as revolutionary: (a) an enormous acceleration in the rate of economic change; (b) an intensification of the social suffering which has hitherto been the invariable concomitant of ruthlessly pursued economic progress. . . . In its essence, the Industrial Revolution means the substitution of industry for agriculture as the principal occupation of the leading European peoples. . . . The immediate causes of this great transformation were mainly two: (a) the opening up of new markets by the expansion of overseas trade; (b) the development of mass machine methods of production. ... The marks of an industrialized state are: (a) a high degree of urbanization; (b) a large industrial population; (c) an excess of imports over exports in regard to food and raw materials; (d) conversely, an excess of exports over imports in regard to manufactures.” 9

9Arthur Birnie, “Growth of Industry,” Edward Eyre, editor, European Civilization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1937), V, 291; cf. 253.


Production changes. The Industrial Revolution originated in the textile industry from improvements in the spinning process. Thereafter spinners and weavers vied with one another in inventions to utilize the increased productivity of one or the other. As looms became larger, it became practical to apply water and steam power. The resulting bulky and expensive equipment began the trend from domestic devices to centralized factories. But machinery for the improved looms required a better and more efficient production of iron and steel. Iron had, indeed, been developed by use of charcoal. When coke was at first tried it was found to cake the furnace, and only when a hot draft produced better and speedier pig iron, was it possible to have the desired machinery. This advance was hindered until standard sizes in nuts, bolts, and other replacements could be agreed upon. Finally, steam power, long employed on pumps in mines, was applied to produce rotary motion and adapted to spinning, and in due time to other formerly manual processes. Of course the manual artisans did not at once disappear, but by the turn of the nineteenth century were falling behind in competition throughout Great Britain. For a time in England “Lud’s boys” tried to smash machinery, but after the Napoleonic Wars the domestic artisan[p. 405] was obliged to abandon the unequal contest and become a factory hand on the industrial capitalist’s terms.

Transportation changes. Overproduction presently resulted because distribution, both domestic and foreign, remained defective. The pottery industry promoted construction of canals to transport its fragile product safely, but these were overdeveloped, and faulty speculation ensued. Roads, hitherto filled with holes and consisting in little more than ruts which the standard wheel bases must needs follow, likewise required radical improvement. MacAdam invented a road composed of layers of graduated stones which allowed drainage through the stones, and which were also sloped into ditches on the sides. Another Scot, Telfond, designed improvements for bridges. Finally in 1825 Stephenson revolutionized travel by successfully applying steam power to traction and opening his railroad. Railways were rapidly constructed in England and on the Continent. The American, Robert Fulton, invented the first practicable steamboat, but utilization of steam power on ships proceeded more slowly. Yet with all its unpredictable consequences the movement toward “One World” had begun.

Agrarian changes. “The nineteenth century was to revolutionize farm practice in advanced countries almost out of recognition; the chemist, the biologist, and the agricultural engineer were to introduce technical changes which although common practice by the end of the century were undreamt of at the beginning. . . . New mechanical appliances spread, though at different rates, amongst European countries.... An acre of wheat yielding approximately fifteen bushels, when it was harvested with the scythe or sickle and threshed with the flail, took altogether from thirty-five to fifty hours of labor. An attachment known as the ‘cradle’ reduced the time required by about ten hours. With the reaper-binder and stationary thresher the same work could be accomplished in three to four hours, while for the combined harvester-thresher only three-quarters of an hour of labor is required. Under traditional European methods of single furrow ploughing with a pair of horses or team of oxen driven by one man, the area ploughed per day varies from three to less than one acre. With a fifty horse-power tractor one man can plough as much as twenty acres per day. A tractor-drawn seed-drill can sow from seventy to eighty acres compared with ten to fifteen acres with a horse-drawn drill.” 10

10 R. R. Enfield, “European Agriculture Since 1750,” ibid., pp. 203, 214.

B. Financial Revolution


Capitalism, of course, had long been in existence in banking and commerce, but its widespread application to revolutionary industrial conditions [p. 406] produced remarkable developments in their turn. Briefly, the equipment required for the new industrialism soon exhausted the resources of even the larger individual fortunes, and necessitated a pooling of fortunes in the joint-stock company or corporation. In England the building of railways and subsequently exploitation of the resources of economically retarded countries abroad, evoked the British investment market under the lead of the Rothschilds and Barings. In 1844 the Bank Charter Act gave the Bank of England an eventual monopoly on note issues, and in 1855 the British Companies Act securely established industrial capitalism by granting limited liability to all joint-stock concerns in industry.

The corporation—or société anonyme as the French aptly termed it—unfortunately tended to diffuse responsibility among too numerous and too scattered a body of stockholders to allow for personal interest or even democratic control. Large numbers of investors were not interested in the industry, its methods, policies, or morals, but solely in their dividends and profits. British investments led the way, both at home and abroad, but other industrialized countries quickly organized in similar fashion. Economic imperialism became an important factor in international politics now on a global scale, and economic imperialism could easily evolve into war.


British endorsement. Adam Smith had begun the attack on the mercantilist theory of protection of home industries, but his views, however acceptable to the merchants, at first clashed with those of the landowners. The latter insisted on subsidies known as the Spenhamland System in England, and laid on imported grains high tariffs known as the Corn Laws. Industrialists and merchants argued, however, that Great Britain’s superior resources and start in industry and trade could enable her to win such profits in the international market that these would more than offset the need to import foodstuffs: With the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846 Great Britain began to opt for “free trade,” a policy which she quite consistently followed into the twentieth century. England ceased to be predominantly agricultural and entrusted her economic destiny almost entirely to coal and iron, factory and power plant, railway and steamship.

Other countries, if they viewed British prosperity with an envious eye, were long so far behind in the industrial transformation that they continued to resort with fair consistency to protective tariffs. In Germany, Friedrich List explicitly challenged the prevalent theory of free trade, and manufacturers in the United States joined farmers in demanding protective duties on many items. [p. 407]

C. Social Consequences


Urban distress. The Agrarian Revolution had already displaced a considerable number of English laborers from rural areas, and had driven them to the cities. The Industrial Revolution accentuated this trend. Again social evils arose while profits went to the few. There resulted overcrowding of cities, slums, disease, drunkenness, vice, lack of education, low wages, long hours of labor, unsanitary and unpleasant working conditions, exploitation of female and child labor at inappropriate tasks. For a time the workman was completely at the employer’s mercy, for until 1833 in England the Government abided quite strictly by the new laissez faire economic theory—and Great Britain was the first country that made any departure from this prevailing dogma. Hence the artisan, in company with the ex-farmer, lost all economic independence. He became a laborer, dependent on the wage paid him by the employer—if the latter chose to employ him. The very numbers of those in this condition deprived individual employees of bargaining power. Individualists for centuries, rural and domestic workers did not know how to organize; scattered attempts in this direction were severely repressed by governments dominated by the industrial or agrarian capitalists. Thus for years laborers worked as long as there was light—sixteen hours were not unknown. Crowded into boom towns with medieval facilities, any time off tended to be spent exclusively in eating and sleeping—and drinking to escape troubles that stretched without seeming end.

Case histories reported by parliamentary investigations during the first half of the nineteenth century give some picture of the resulting misery. We learn that Matthew Crabtree worked in the factory since he was eight years old, ordinarily from 6 A.M. to 8 P.M., and from 5 to 9 when trade was brisk. He had to walk two miles to the factory and was beaten if late. Although the overseer was not unusually vicious, someone was being beaten in the factory hourly. No wonder that Matthew returned to supper and at once went to bed. Elizabeth Bentley was beaten if she was late or flagged at her work; indeed, all the boys and girls there were flogged. She could not eat in the factory because there was too much dust, and the foreman would give her food to the pigs. Let Sarah Gooder, aged eight, speak for herself: “I’m a trapper in the Gawber pit. It does not tire me, but I have to trap without a light and I’m scared. I go at four and sometimes half past three in the morning, and come out at five and half-past. I never go to sleep. Sometimes I sing when I’ve light, but not in the dark; I dare not sing then. I don’t like being in the pit. I’m very sleepy when I go sometimes in the morning. I go to Sunday school and read Reading Made Easy. . . . They teach me to [p. 408] pray: ‘God bless my father and mother, and sister and brother, and everybody else, and God bless me and make me a good servant. Amen.’ I have heard tell of Jesus many a time. I don’t know why He came on earth, I’m sure, and I don’t know why He died, but He had stones for His head to rest on.” 11 From an instance such as this it is easy to surmise the origin of the Marxist slur: “Religion is the opiate of the people” —however grossly inaccurate it is as a generalization even of nineteenth-century morals.

11 Hughes, op. cit., p. 169.


In England, governmental bodies were controlled until 1832 by the alliance of Tory squires and Whig merchants and industrialists. Their rivalry and spite—aside from humanitarian sentiments—sometimes resulted in departures from the classic laissez faire role for government. Intervention began half-heartedly in 1802, but it was not until after the 1833 Factory Act that there was effective enforcement of a ban on child labor under nine and limitation of minors to a twelve hour day. Even so, protection of the underprivileged did not really get under way until after 1850.

France made laws limiting the working day to a twelve hour maximum as early as 1841, but since no inspectors were provided to enforce the law until 1874, little or no protection was given the laborers.

Prussia had a child labor law in 1839, though it also was scarcely enforced adequately until 1853. Bismarck was the first European statesman to give labor a general code, and this was during the 1880’s.

Eventually, as is well-known, even the most laissez faire of theorists departed from Manchester School Individualism to invoke governmental protection for the working classes. But this did not happen before Marx and Engels had issued a fateful summons to desperate men: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains” (Communist Manifesto, 1848) .





 Episcopal Council, Med. illum. ms.



A. Advent of the Renaissance







A. Political Background (1783-1832) /•P


The American Revolution left Great Britain temporarily disillusioned about the advantages of empire. The mercantilist tenet of the Whig commercial oligarchy was discredited, and the Tories entered into a parliamentary supremacy which lasted almost unbroken from 1783 to 1830. Their premier, William Pitt II, was, indeed, an able war minister, but after his death in 1806 Tory rule degenerated into mere standpatism. The rise of new industrial magnates, still unenfranchised, [p. 409] created a new cause for the Whigs to champion, and the grossly unequal system of parliamentary representation came in for repeated denunciations. War conditions enabled the Government to repress would-be reformers with a heavy hand, but removal of the Napoleonic menace in 1815 unleashed the full force of political and social discontent. Early labor agitation evoked (1819) the “Manchester Massacre” and “Six Repressive Acts” which invaded traditional English rights of freedom from search, of assembly, of speech and the press.

After the suicide of the ultra-conservative Castlereagh in 1822, however, moderate Tories came to the fore. Canning as foreign minister abandoned the Metternich system to abet foreign Liberalism, while Huskinson as president of the Board of Trade modified mercantilist restrictions. But these efforts to appease the demand for parliamentary reform by concessions on other points merely postponed the issue. The Whigs won the 1830 elections and after two years of tense struggle pushed through the Reform Act of 1832 which redistributed parliamentary seats so as to give some representation to the industrial boom towns. Only wealthy industrialists profited by this modification, however, for the proportion of voters still remained about one in twenty-two. The reform, then, was far from producing Democracy, although it was Liberalism, and at long last it dethroned the oligarchy which had dominated England since the “Glorious Revolution” of 1689.


The failure in 1745 of the last attempt at a Stuart restoration had removed Hanoverian dread of Jacobites—which Catholics were all supposed to be. Acquisition of numerous Catholic subjects for the British crown in Canada had dictated a certain toleration (1763; 1774) in order to conserve their loyalty, especially during and after the American Revolution. British statesmen understood the danger that Ireland might imitate the Americans, and realized that concessions to Catholicity might allay part of the Celtic grievance. The Napoleonic Wars, moreover, had found Great Britain allied with the Papal States, and during the whole period of the French Revolution many French priests fled to England as refugees. These cultured gentlemen conducted themselves decorously—some were even hired as tutors—and thus seemed to have more in common with British “respectability” than with their fanatical persecutors, the sans-culottes. All in all, despite their traditional prejudices, Englishmen moved haltingly toward emancipation for Catholics because such a course was in accord with political expediency and a spirit of compromise. These political factors were paralleled by a new interest in religion in British lands. On the one hand the progress of Deism among the commercial and industrial classes made them less [p. 410] interested in the suppression of any one type of supernatural religion. On the other hand, the excesses of the French Revolution in the direction of atheism shocked the Anglicans and the earnest newly-formed Methodists. A menace of anarchy and godlessness had arisen, and conservative Protestants became less averse to extending the “Christian Front” to include Catholics—whom none could accuse of latitudinarianism.

B. Preliminary Concessions (1778-1813)


Relief Act of 1778. By 1778 the English Catholics constituted a minority of some sixty thousand, served by 350 priests. Although strict enforcement of the Penal Code against Catholics had waned, as late as 1771 Father Maloney had had a death sentence commuted to deportation. During the manifold difficulties of the American Revolution a group of English Catholics, headed by the duke of Norfolk, were emboldened to send an address of loyalty to the king. This was particularly welcome after the disaster at Saratoga (1777), and Edmund Burke, whose wife was a Catholic, had no great difficulty in steering a modest Relief Bill through parliament. In May, 1778, this passed both houses of parliament and received the signature of King George III. This measure did away with the £100 reward for informers against Catholic priests and schoolmasters, and abolished the penalty of life imprisonment for these two categories in the event of their conviction. Although Catholics were not yet permitted to hear Mass publicly, they were given to understand by the government that they would not be disturbed during peaceable worship in private chapels and homes. Catholics were now allowed to hold, purchase, and inherit real estate without fear that an apostate among the heirs might claim the whole inheritance. Yet they remained excluded from all official, legal and military positions, and were obliged to a double tax on land.

Flare-up of bigotry. Bitter popular opposition to the Relief Act in London was in marked contrast to the official attitude. The somewhat unbalanced Lord George Gordon stirred up a mob to burn and pillage Catholic properties while other agitators tried to intimidate parliament with monster petitions. The city magistrates refused to take action, and disorder was finally halted by the king’s personal intervention. After the regular soldiers had fired upon the mob, more than a hundred casualties were reported before quiet was restored. Eventually Catholics were indemnified financially by the government and the City of London. But in Scotland popular opposition became so violent that the 1778 Relief Act could not be put into force until 1793, and bigotry lingered longer there.

Relief Act of 1791. The wealthier Catholics were now intent on [p. 411] removal of civil and social disabilities. But their disposition to gain concessions at the cost of a compromising oath of allegiance threatened a rift between “cisalpine” and “ultramontane” Catholics: those suspicious of or zealous for papal direction. During 1782 the lay leaders formed a “Catholic Committee” which in 1788 requested further relief. They assured Prime Minister Pitt that they considered papal infallibility and theocratic powers of no effect in Great Britain. In place of the existing Test and Supremacy Oaths, they proposed a new formula in which the aforesaid papal prerogatives were branded as “impious, heretical and damnable.” The Catholic clergy, led by Bishop Walmesley, for the most part condemned the proposed oath, and eventually suggested as the lesser of two evils the Irish Oath of 1774 which confined itself to a simple rejection of papal secular jurisdiction and deposing powers in regard to the British crown. Although not entirely unobjectionable, this formula was not, like the committee’s proposal, proximo haeresi. The Anglican prelate, Dr. Horsley, advised Pitt to reject the lay formula for the clerical one, and the Prime Minister, who sought to pacify and not provoke Catholics, followed this course. On July 24, 1791, a new Catholic Relief Act provided that those who pronounced the new oath were henceforth immune from prosecution for their religion or priesthood. Catholic chapels were now recognized as legal places of worship, provided that their location was signified to the government, and they did not manifest the external appearance of a church—which, it seems, essentially consisted in steeple and bell. Catholic children might now be tutored in their religion, although Catholic schools were not formally authorized. The legal profession was opened to Catholics, but the civil and military services remained closed. Catholic marriages and funerals were still to be held in Anglican churches.


Irish disabilities. Irish Catholics, while they might enjoy the comfort of numbers, were oppressed by a Penal Code directed against their race from which English Catholics were free. The vast majority of Irish Catholics had been reduced by Elizabeth I and Cromwell to the condition of agrarian slaves of Protestant landlords. Cromwell’s treatment had deprived them of effective means of resistance, but the British Government was nonetheless uneasy during the American and French Revolutions. Irish addresses of loyalty to the crown, however, had by 1771 elicited no greater concession than permission to take leases on bog land for reclamation. But in 1778 after Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga, the British crown hastily granted Irish Catholics the privilege of 999 year leases on land, and extended to them the religious provisions of the English Relief Act of 1778. In 1782, moreover, the British parliament’s [p. 412] veto on Irish legislation was removed. But such independence as the Irish parliament enjoyed during the following two decades was largely in the Protestant interest. Hence a new “Catholic Association” was formed under the lead of Lord Kenmare and John Keogh. Agitation did extort some new concesssions, but these benefited chiefly the few wealthy Catholics, who thereupon became apathetic. Keogh and the commoners then drifted into the United Irish Movement which was tinged with French Jacobinism. Their uprising during 1798 was suppressed by British troops. Under threat of reprisals, influential Catholics headed by Archbishop Troy of Dublin were induced to consent to the joining of Ireland in a “United Kingdom of Great Britain” on the understanding that Catholic emancipation would be their recompense. The Union did go into effect in 1801, but King George III refused to honor Pitt’s intimation of emancipation.

Relief Bill of 1813. English and Irish Catholics were now united under a single political regime and the right of suffrage became a common goal. Unfortunately its acquisition was delayed by disagreement as to means. The English Catholic Committee persisted in seeking political enfranchisement from parliament by offering ultra-liberal concessions regarding subjection to the Holy See. In 1813 Charles Butler, secretary of the English Committee, and Henry Grattan, a conciliatory Irish Protestant leader, sponsored a Relief Bill which proposed to allow the British government a veto on papal nomination of bishops throughout the United Kingdom, and some regulation of hierarchical communication with the Holy See. The Irish hierarchy resolutely opposed emancipation on such conditions, and were vehemently supported by the English vicar-apostolic, John Milner. Schism was never nearer than when the Catholic Committee censured and expelled Milner who, however combative and tactless, was a Catholic bishop. The English Committee did receive a vague endorsement of their plan from Monsignor Quarantotti, locum tenens of the Congregation of Propaganda, during the detention of Pius VII and his advisors in France. On his return from captivity, however, the pope repudiated the concession. Both the Irish hierarchy and the Cisalpines tried to influence the Holy See in their favor in none too deferential terms, and the controversy lasted for years. In 1821 William Plunkett did pass a Relief Bill incorporating the proposed veto through Commons, but fortunately it was thrown out by the House of Lords. The prolonged agitation had revealed sad disagreement between English and Irish Catholics, or rather, between “Old Catholics,” wealthy aristocrats whose grievances were largely political and social, and the rank and file who suffered economic discrimination as well. The “Cisalpine” attitude, which stopped just short of schism, was yet to give the [p. 413] Catholic Church in England some anxious moments, but like French Gallicanism it died with the Vatican definition of papal primacy.

C. Winning of Emancipation (1823-29)


Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) presently emerged as the Irish Catholic leader in succession to Keogh. During 1813 he had won notoriety by dramatizing Irish woes in the defense of the pro-Catholic editor Magee —though the case was lost, British ascendancy had been excoriated. By 1823 O’Connell founded a “Catholic Association” into which he endeavored to gather all the discordant parties in order to press for Catholic emancipation. His task proved difficult, but by 1825 contributions were being collected for the association in nearly every parish. In alarm the British government outlawed “societies working for the redress of evils” from collecting money, practically suppressing the association. But the irrepressible O’Connell quickly returned with the “New Catholic Association” and he continued to find ways to evade legal prosecution while keeping the original organization substantially intact. Meanwhile the impression of Irish lawlessness was offset in British governmental circles by the intelligent and moderate testimony of Bishop Doyle of Kildare before a parliamentary investigating body during 1825.

Final struggle. The association continued to gain strength and in 1826 O’Connell steeled the Irish tenants to oust the incumbent Beresford from a safe parliamentary borough and to threaten many others. During 1828 he himself defeated FitzGerald in Clare, announcing: “The oath at present required by law is: ‘That the Sacrifice of the Mass and invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, as now practiced in the Church of Rome, are impious and idolatrous.’ Of course, I will never stain my soul by such an oath. I leave that to my honorable opponent, Mr. Vesey FitzGerald. He has often taken that horrible oath.” Thus, though clearly the choice of his constituents for a seat in the British parliament, O’Connell demonstrated that he was barred from taking office on religious grounds. This point he dramatized on the floor of Commons to Englishmen priding themselves on “fair play.” The point was made.

British surrender. O’Connell’s electoral victories made British politicians aware that some concession would be required. In a last ditch stand against all forms of Liberalism, the Tories put the premiership in the hands of the duke of Wellington. But Wellington, experienced in civil strife from the Spanish peninsula, advised against forcible repression of the Irish movement—the peacefulness and sobriety of which

 [p. 414] O’Connell had taken pains to emphasize. The Clare election convinced Wellington that he was fairly beaten, and with a soldier’s scorn of political maneuvers prepared to surrender. In this he was supported by Robert Peel, at least on grounds of expediency. At first King George IV, deserter of a lawful Catholic wife, refused to sanction this proposal. Thereupon Wellington and Peel resigned. When the king learned that his only alternative was to summon a yet more detested foe, a Whig ministry, he recalled the Tories. After much haggling over terms and pleading of his “conscience,” the king finally gave his reluctant signature on April 13, 1829, to an act granting emancipation to British Catholics.


Content of the Act. An oath of allegiance, acceptable to all Catholics, was now subsituted for the Test and Corporation Acts. Thereby all offices under the crown and all legislative positions were opened to Catholics with the following exceptions. The Act of Succession still required the king to be a Protestant and—until 1910—obliged him to make a “Protestant Declaration” repudiating Transubstantiation, etc. Catholics were also denied the posts of Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper of the Seal, and Viceroy of Ireland—which last has ceased to exist. To placate bigotry several nuisance riders obliged religious to notify the civil authorities of their whereabouts, forbade religious processions outside churches, and still denied Catholic churches steeples and bells.

Operation of the Act. When some Catholics wished to reject the concession for these latter reasons, O’Connell shrewdly pointed out that the British government was merely trying to save face and had no serious intention of enforcement. This proved largely true in the sequel, and the obnoxious appendices had generally fallen into disuse by the time that they were formally repealed in 1927. O’Connell was re-elected and took his seat in parliament, though preceded there by Howard, earl of Surrey, first acknowledged Catholic in Commons since the Elizabethan era. Requirements regarding Catholic marriage in Anglican churches were modified in 1835, and Catholics, though under governmental surveillance until 1898, could thereafter be legally married before a priest. Paradoxically, emancipation temporarily disenfranchised 190,000 of the 40 shilling freeholders by whose support O’Connell had won—a bargain of which he heard much subsequently. On the whole, however, if popular bigotry was far from stilled, Catholics were now legally emancipated throughout Great Britain, and by implication, Sts. John Fisher, Thomas More, and their martyred associates were again “His Majesty’s loyal opposition.” [p. 415]





 Pasquier Quesnel



A. Revolution







A basic political cause of the American Revolution was Britain’s desire to rule the colonies primarily, if not exclusively, for the benefit of the mother country. This attitude of British aristocrats was an outcome of the “sacred egoism” of sovereign states following the breakdown of medieval Christendom. Great Britain had profited most by the disruption of the Theocracy, and her successful career, as judged by materialistic norms, was hailed as vindication of the Machiavellian new order. In 1763 she had emerged as victor and seemingly master in both America and India. Yet within a generation her selfish policy had received a stinging rebuke, and it might be regarded as fitting that this was delivered by those who secured some of their philosophic ammunition, although unconsciously and indirectly, from scholastic sources.

Scholastic antecedents. “We have to come back to Locke’s Two Treatises on Government as the bible of the Revolution. Locke wrote to refute Filmer, whose Patriarchia, though written thirty years before, was not published until 1680. Those who read Locke, when serious students, had also to read Filmer. We know that Jefferson read him, because his copy of Patriarchia is preserved in the Congressional Library. That he read Locke is patent in the very phrasing of the Declaration of Independence. Now Locke’s thought was formed by Hooker, and Hooker’s thought was formed by St. Thomas Aquinas. As for Filmer, he was an honest enough controversialist to present the gist of his opponent’s arguments faithfully. That opponent was Cardinal Bellarmine. And while Filmer signally failed to establish his own position, those who read him got, at second-hand, a sufficiently adequate acquaintance with Bellarmine. In the same way, as Dr. James J. Walsh conclusively shows in his book, The Education of the Founding Fathers, that the system of the public defense of a list of theses by the graduating students in American colleges of the period was purely scholastic in form, and generally in content, and that a good half of the members of the Continental Congress were college men whose minds had been moulded by this system. . . .” 12

12.Theodore Maynard, Story of American Catholicism (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1942), p. 119.

An initial aspect was economic, for British merchants were pursuing the theory of Mercantilism which regarded colonies as chattels to enrich the mother country: they were to trade exclusively with Great Britain. Thus the lion’s share of profits would go to the British commercial oligarchy, whatever might be the hardships imposed upon the American [p. 416] Colonies. Though the administration of these Colonies did cost the British government £350,000 annually by 1764, British merchants were realizing simultaneously a yearly profit from these same Colonies of £2,000,000. The only loss was through American smuggling to the French and Spanish West Indies—where alone the colonists could make a profit. This drain upon British revenues certain statesmen were now resolved to plug.




Taxation of the Colonies to ease the British Exchequer was the aim of Grenville, expert financier but no politician. His Revenue Act of 1764 after (1) asserting a parliamentary right to tax Americans; (2) levied duties on sugar and other luxuries; and (3) tightened up on enforcement of customs upon erstwhile smugglers. But in 1765 Grenville’s Stamp Act crystallized American opposition, and a “Virginia Resolution”—widely circulated if never formally adopted—asserted that colonists were not obliged to obey any tax not imposed by their own assembly. A colonial boycott proved so effective that the British merchants themselves advocated repeal as a strategic retreat. But in 1767 Townshend raised the same basic issue with new import duties, and colonial assemblies in New York and Massachusetts were dissolved in an evident effort to discipline the colonies.

“Legal rights” accordingly became the subject of the hour. The best legal authorities in England and America had declared that equality before the law was the common birthright of all Englishmen, even when transplanted to America. “No taxation without representation,” Hutchinson contended, in rebutting the English rejoinder that the average Englishman was not represented in the British parliament, did not mean that every individual had to be represented, but every “interest.” While urban and rural England were collectively represented in parliament, Americans lacked any spokesman. This complaint might have been met by Pitt’s anticipation of a “British Commonwealth” or by an imperial parliament, and had such ideas been proposed in time they could well have been acceptable to most Americans. For the colonists did not deny a certain “equality in subordination” to the mother country, and they revered the majesty of the crown until the king’s obstinacy alienated them. What Americans objected to were: (1) abuse of authority by writs of assistance, breaking up of assemblies, suspension of colonial legislation, excessive trade restrictions; (2) discriminatory legislation extending admiralty and martial law beyond limits set by English constitutional norms; and (3) the claim of the British parliament to universal, absolute jurisdiction in “all cases whatsoever.”

“Natural rights” were also invoked to interpret the British Constitution, or if need be, to assert it as a “higher law.” Samuel Adams maintained that the “British Constitution . . . is founded on the law of God and nature,” and not in “positive law, which would indeed give parliament an ultimate and therefore a despotic authority.” Since “it is an essential natural right that a man shall quietly enjoy and have sole disposal of his property,” the Americans share this right equally with Englishmen. Bostonians, complaining against soldiers and customs officials, proclaimed that they possessed “natural rights” to “life, liberty, and property.”

The Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773, provided the spark for this inflammable atmosphere. Taking the concession of a tea monopoly to the East India Company as an added insult, Bostonians tossed a large consignment into the harbor, reminding all concerned that “we are not Sepoys or Marattas, but British subjects born to liberty.” When the British government closed the port of Boston, the American colonies, hitherto all too individualistic, rallied to the support of Massachusetts. On September 5, 1774, representatives from twelve of the American colonies entered Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, to form the First Continental Congress. Out of the retaliatory measures against Great Britain which were voted by this body, the American Revolution followed within a year.




Independence. The Continental Congress was to some extent precipitated into taking extreme measures by Thomas Paine’s Common Sense which appeared in January, 1776. This fervid denunciation of “crowned ruffians” urged Americans to strike out for themselves, for “freedom bath been hunted round the globe. . . . Receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.” Paine’s religious views were scarcely orthodox and his political ideal eventually verged on anarchism, but his was the book of the year 1776. Congress could have alleged more conservative authority, for St. Thomas had said: “If it pertains to the right of the multitude to provide a king for itself, it will not be unjust to depose such a king . . . if the royal power is tyrannously abused . . . because this royal power was not delegated to him to abuse his office.” With perhaps pardonable exaggeration, the Americans recited such abuses. They then asserted that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The British Constitution—Magna Charta, Petition and Declaration of Right—parliamentary practice, and the colonial charters had all implicitly recognized popular sovereignty. It was not, then, “for light and transient reasons” that they decided “to dissolve the political bonds which connected them with another,” in [p. 418] order “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.” To safeguard “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” they were resolved to pledge one another “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”

Catholic participation. General Washington discouraged bigotry by his order (1775) forbidding “observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the effigy of the pope,” especially at a time when Americans sought Canadian support, “for to be insulting their religion is so monstrous as not to be suffered or excused.” If the Canadians did not join the American cause, at least the only commissioned Catholic chaplain was the Canadian, Abbé Lotbinière, named by Arnold and confirmed by Congress, August 10, 1776. And Americans were eventually helped by the Catholic nations of France and Spain so that chaplains in the French armed forces had occasion to minister to American Catholics. Individual foreign Catholics, such as Lafayette, Pulaski, and Kosciusko, gave valuable aid, and John Barry, first commander of the American Navy, performed some of the greatest services. Stephen Moylan was Washington’s aide and secretary. Among civilian patriots, the Carroll family was prominent, along with Thomas FitzSimons, George Meade, and the Moylans of Pennsylvania. Catholic Tories, however, did exist, Shea’s rash denial notwithstanding. But as might be expected from Britain’s record of persecution, the Catholic percentage among Tories was relatively lows; President Washington’s tribute to Catholic loyalty ought to be well known. Replying to congratulations from a Catholic group, he affirmed: “I presume your fellow citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their revolution, or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.”




In the political sphere, the success of the American Revolution marked a turning point in history. It gave scope for the formation of a state not bound by the monarchical tradition predominant since the crossing of the Rubicon. The new Republic would have a unique opportunity to profit by the successes and mistakes of England’s political evolution. The theory, if not yet the practice, of the new nation was Democracy. Should it prove successful, the way would lie open for imitation by peoples of the Old World, and absolute monarchy, creature of humanism and Protestantism, would be doomed. With the blessing of Providence, the democratic dream was in large part realized and the United States became a beacon to the world. Most of the Liberal reform movements  [p. 419] of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries invoked the American Declaration of Independence and its principles were finally accepted by half of the world.

11 Charles Metzger, S.J., “Catholic Tories,” Catholic Historical Review, 1949-50.

In regard to religion, the Catholic Church could have no regret to see Absolutism supplanted by Democracy, for she had long languished under oppressive regimes that relegated her to the background, tied her hands for good, and expected her to be obsequiously grateful for the patronage accorded her. Under the new American system the Church could not be legally dominated. Neither, however, could she dominate. Her clergy would have to abandon their privileged position in the Old World; henceforth they would have to persuade instead of commanding with the sanction of civil law at their back. The Church had once subsisted under a regime which granted her no priorities, the Roman empire, and had converted it. She could repeat this achievement if primitive zeal returned as well. But in a democratic regime, Christian brotherhood would have to be stressed without detriment to clerical authority; energy and initiative would have to prevail over clerical decorum to the extent that the priest would be obliged to go to the people, and not expect them to come to him.



B. Organization






The Constitutional Convention (1787) sought a remedy for the disunity prevailing among the newly independent states under the original Articles of Confederation. A veritable “brain trust” met: thirty-one of its fifty-five members were college trained and most had experience in the Continental Congress. Washington presided over deliberations led by Madison and Wilson, and restrained by Franklin; the Catholics, FitzSimons and Daniel Carroll, were members of the convention.

Constitutional theory was in accord with scholastic principles that secular authority emanated from God through the people, for: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” The Constitution was really the first explicitly written instrument of government, although it reflected the memory of centuries of English constitutional evolution and more proximate experience of American autonomy under the colonial charters. Its theory emanated from Locke’s distinction of governmental powers, as distorted by Montesquieu into a check and balance of governmental branches to avoid tyranny. But the Founding Fathers probably derived more from practical experience than from abstract political science. The [p. 420] constitutional machinery that emerged was federal rather than national, and left most domestic affairs to the state governments. Broad principles were enunciated; details were left to time and experience, though succeeding generations were tempted to read into the mind of the authors their own political and economic views.

Religious guarantees were eventually written into the Constitution. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina proposed to the Convention a draft statement which contained the phrase, “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.” This was not adopted, not so much because it was opposed, but because it was felt to be unnecessary. But the debates concerning the adoption of the Constitution revealed the uneasiness of a large portion of the American people about the lack of a “Bill of Rights” explicitly affirmed in the document. To allay such fears, the first Congress of the new Federal Government adopted in December, 1791, such a charter of liberties: the first ten amendments. The first of these amendments contains this reference to religious liberty:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The last clause of the sixth article of the original Constitution, moreover, had asserted that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Interpretation of Church-state relations, of course, has varied. The majority of the Founding Fathers were not irreligious, even if they did not see fit to establish any official church. The first Federal Congress on September 24, 1789, requested the president to recommend a “Thanksgiving Day”; on January 7, 1790, it provided for congressional chaplains; on March 3, 1791, for army chaplains. In 1789 President Washington did not scruple to recommend to Congress appropriation of funds for missionaries among the Indians. During June, 1797, under the Adams administration John B. Sartori was named first American consul to the Papal States, and the series of American consuls at Rome continued to the fall of the temporal power in 1870. Though not warranted in theory or practice, non-Catholics have been prone to regard President Jefferson’s remarks to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 as an official interpretation of the American attitude on religion: “Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God. . . . I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and state.” Yet the following year Jefferson sent to Congress for ratification a treaty assuring the Kaskaskia Indians [p. 421] of an annual subsidy of $100 for their chaplain, and $300 for erection of a church. Consulted in 1806 by Bishop Carroll about the expediency of recommending a Frenchman for the vacant see of New Orleans in newly acquired Louisiana, Jefferson and Madison replied courteously but warily that the Federal Government deemed the matter entirely outside its competence.




Generic status. Despite the Federal Constitution, the laws of many states continued for some time to discriminate against Catholics. This was particularly true of New England where Catholics were debarred from office during most of the period under review. After the rise of political parties, the Federalists became identified in New England with retention of Congregational establishment, supported as it was by the commercial aristocracy. Accordingly after 1794 the Democratic-Republicans took up the cause of dissenters and strove to repeal oppressive legislation. This aim attracted to their ranks many Irish immigrants who at this early date came to play an important minor role in the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.” But though uniformly successful in Federal politics after 1800, the Democrats remained a minority party in New England state politics for some fifteen years longer. By 1815, however, the Federalists had degenerated into a sectionalist party stubbornly defending Congregationalist supremacy and class distinctions. Bigotry and fanaticism spelled the ruin of this group, for Federalist espousal of secession for New England during the War of 1812 brought about a rapid loss of support in the East, while western expansion of the United States reduced the relative importance of New England.

Massachusetts in its first state constitution (1780) obliged its citizens to support the established Congregational Church, and excluded from public office all refusing to renounce by oath “those principles of spiritual jurisdiction which Roman Catholics in some countries have held.” A brief Democratic tenure of office (1807) saw introduction of a new Public Worship Bill, but it was defeated and the Federalists returned to power. Congregationalism, however, was challenged by the development of Unitarianism, and in 1818 Chief Justice Parker sustained the dissenting minister, Alvan Lamson. Yet in the 1820 constitutional convention Congregationalists joined the Unitarians to continue discrimination against others. Democratic victory in 1823 led to amendments, for a time blocked by a die-hard senate. But by 1833 the offending clauses had been removed.

Connecticut granted religious liberty during the period between 1777 and 1791, though under vexatious conditions. Certificates of exemption from support of the established church were issued, and the struggle [p. 422] for equal rights followed the pattern in Massachusetts, but was resolved in favor of the dissenters as early as 1818.

New Hampshire persevered longest in discriminating against Catholics. Not only was there an established religion, but a test oath against the papacy was deliberately included. Congregational establishment was terminated in 1819, but public officials and teachers still had to be Protestants. In 1852 Catholic emancipation was rejected by votes of fifteen thousand to twenty-five thousand, and not until 1877 was the religious test for office abolished. Yet even then the words “Protestant” and “Evangelical” were still retained in the Constitution of a supposedly nonsectarian state.

New York suffered until 1821 under the Jay “Alien Clause” requiring immigrants seeking naturalization to renounce allegiance to foreign authority “in matters ecclesiastical as well as civil.” Native Catholics, however, were elected to the legislature in 1806, and during 1812 Judge De Witt Clinton upheld Father Kohlman’s plea for the privileged character of “secrets of sacramental confession” in a case of alleged theft.

Southern states. Religious liberty in the southern states had to await formulation of the new constitutions. In 1776, indeed, North Carolina granted that “no person who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion . . . will be capable of holding office.” Yet several Catholics attained posts by various evasions. One asserted that he did deny any “truth” of the Protestant religion; in another instance, a request for an official list of these truths provoked internecine strife among Protestants. At any rate, Thomas Burke became congressman and governor, and Aldanus Burke and William Gaston were justices of the State Supreme Court before the phrase was officially altered from “Protestant” to “Christian.” South Carolina also tried to maintain a “Christian Protestant” established religion in 1778, while conceding equal and religious rights to Protestants of every denomination. These provisions, however, were abandoned in 1790 and religious freedom and civil equality defined in terms which could include Catholics. Georgia in 1777 conceded “freedom of conscience” while still insisting that all legislators be Protestants. Taxes for the support of religion were imposed until 1789 when at length all “male, tax-paying freemen” were enfranchised. As previously noted, Virginia and Maryland had granted religious liberty at the end of the colonial period. In 1786 Virginia dissenters secured the disestablishment of Anglicanism, although Catholic corporate property rights were imperfectly recognized at law until 1830.

It required approximately a half century, then, before the principles of the Federal Constitution regarding religion were put into effect by the vast majority of the States. [p. 423]




  Bishop John Carroll



A. Hierarchical Organization (1773-1815)







Transitional status. At the outbreak of the Revolution, American Catholics were still subject to Bishop Challoner, vicar-apostolic of the London District. Prior to the opening of hostilities, Bishop Challoner had named Father John Lewis (1721-88), former superior of the Jesuit missionaries in the English colonies, his vicar-general. Father Lewis continued to act as local superior after Bishop Challoner’s death in 1781, although the latter’s successor, Bishop James Talbot, refused to exercise jurisdiction within the new Republic. To clarify this nebulous canonical status, the American clergy decided at a conference during 1783 to appeal to the Holy See. They reported that although Catholicity was by then tolerated in all of the United States, it had been intimated to them that continued subjection to an English hierarchy would not be pleasing to the American Continental Congress. Fearing that appointment of a Catholic bishop would arouse Protestant alarm—since no Anglican prelate had thus far been named for the English colonies—the American clergy suggested to Propaganda that the American mission be ruled directly by the Holy See through a superior with faculties to confirm. Meanwhile, in response to inquiries by Cardinal Antonelli, prefect of Propaganda, Monsignor Pamphili, the nuncio in France, reported a suggestion emanating from Benjamin Franklin that a French bishop be substituted for the English prelate, and that the American clergy might be recruited from a seminary at Bordeaux.

Prefecture-apostolic. More recent research seems to have established that Rome gave no serious consideration to the “French Plan,” and Franklin, on recalling his old diplomatic colleague, John Carroll, expressed confidence in his prudence. The Holy See, after excusing Father Lewis from further responsibility by reason of his “advanced age,” on June 9, 1784, named Father John Carroll provisional superior of the American mission, with faculties to confirm. At the same time the new prelate was informed that this arrangement was merely temporary, and was asked to forward a report to guide the Holy See in preparing a definitive organization. Father Carroll did not delay in sending this report (1785), in which he estimated the number of Catholics at about twenty-five thousand; that the few priests—twenty-five or twenty-six—led a life of great labor in visiting scattered congregations; and that the Church possessed no corporate property, all establishments being held under individual title. Father Carroll believed that the native Catholics, if somewhat influenced by their non-Catholic environment, were generally [p. 424] faithful to the sacraments, at least to their Easter Duties, but he deplored the laxity of newer immigrants. Catechetical instruction, especially for Negro slaves, left very much to be desired.l4

Father Carroll also set out to visit his prefecture and to exercise his functions, although an oversight in his delegation, corrected in 1786, at first prevented him from conceding faculties to clerics volunteering for the American mission. He needed patience to guide his flock through disputes about jurisdiction with the see of Quebec, the heresy of the apostate priest Wharton, and the criticisms of vagrant and insubordinate clerics. Thus in 1788 he and his ex-Jesuit confreres were accused by a disgruntled Irish priest, Patrick Smyth, of plotting to dominate the Church in America in his Present State of Catholic Missions Conducted by Ex-Jesuits. But presently the even-tempered Carroll under the pen name of “Pacific” was appealing to his fellow citizens for religious liberty (1789).




Preparations. Clerical discipline proved to be one of Father Carroll’s greatest trials as prefect apostolic. National misunderstandings, the first rumblings of Trusteeism, the irresponsible conduct of vagrant clerics from Europe—these and other difficulties convinced most of the older clergy that episcopal authority had become imperative in the United States. Elderly ex-Jesuits withdrew their former opposition in the fear that sees might be established anyway and filled with outsiders. The Continental Congress, moreover, had given them to understand that a residential see with ordinary jurisdiction directly subject to Rome would not be taken amiss. Hence in 1786 a chapter of the American clergy recommended to the Holy See the establishment of a bishopric. When Propaganda had signified its willingness to do so, the American clergy on March 12, 1788, requested the privilege of electing their first bishop. The Holy See having agreed pro hac vice, elections conducted during April, 1789, resulted in twenty-four of twenty-six votes being cast for Father Carroll.

Nomination. Pope Pius VI gave his approbation on September 14, 1789, and the following November 6 issued the brief, Ex Hac Apostolicae, naming John Carroll bishop of Baltimore, with jurisdiction over all the territory of the United States—in 1791 Propaganda confirmed that Bishop Carroll’s jurisdiction was conterminous with American civil jurisdiction. Before sailing to England for his consecration, the bishop-elect joined Senator Charles Carroll in an “Address of Roman Catholics,” congratulating George Washington on his election as president of the [p. 425] United States, and received a gracious reply. By happy coincidence the first bishop and the first president were chosen in the same year.

14 Cf. John Tracy Ellis, Documents of American Church History (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1955), p. 151.

 Consecration. John Carroll sailed for Europe in the same ship bearing Dr. Madison, recently selected as the first Protestant Episcopalian prelate for Virginia. Carroll was consecrated bishop on August 15, 1790, in the chapel of the Weld family’s Lulworth Castle. The consecrator was his friend, Bishop Charles Walmesley, O.S.B., senior English vicar-apostolic; from this source the majority of American bishops derive their participation in the apostolic succession. Before returning to America, Bishop Carroll arranged with Father Emery, superior of Saint-Sulpice, for the staffing of a seminary at Baltimore; the future St. Mary’s was opened by French Sulpicians during 1791. Refusing pressing invitations to visit Ireland, Bishop Carroll hastened back to his diocese. He arrived to begin his quarter century of episcopate on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The next Sunday, December 12, the bishop took possession of his temporary pro-cathedral of St. Peter’s, celebrated pontifical Mass, preached eloquently, and dedicated his national diocese to the Mother of God, commending his subjects to be devoted to her.




The Synod of Baltimore, held by Bishop Carroll and twenty-two priests during November, 1791, enacted the first canonical legislation in the United States, and its decrees were binding on the whole country until supplemented by the first provincial council of 1829. The chief prescriptions were the following:

Baptism. Canonical legislation regarding conditional re-baptism of converts was clarified and prescribed, with the requirement of investigation in each case. Baptismal registers were ordered kept.

Confirmation. This sacrament, except in danger of death, was not to be conferred on persons who had not reached the use of reason and had not been properly instructed.

Penance. Priests exercising faculties without episcopal approbation were suspended, and the faithful were to be instructed that confession to unauthorized priests was invalid. Annual confession and Communion were to be enforced, and those who contumaciously refused obedience were to be deprived of Christian burial.

Holy Eucharist. So far as possible, Sunday Mass was to be made accessible to all, with due regard to the needs of merchants and of laborers. The cassock was to be worn at the celebration of Mass, and the surplice during public functions of the ministry. At Sunday Mass, reading of the Gospel in the vernacular, a short sermon, the litany of the Blessed Virgin, and a prayer for civil authorities were prescribed. Wherever possible, a missa cantata with the Asperges should be celebrated [p. 426], followed in the afternoon by Vespers and Benediction. Children ought to be prepared without undue delay for reception of Holy Communion.

Extreme unction was to be conferred on all in danger of death, even upon children who had reached the use of reason.

Matrimony. The bans of marriage should be duly proclaimed three times. Instructions in the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church and testimonials from former pastors were to be required. Mixed marriages ought to be discouraged, but if they could not be prevented, the promise of educating children in the Catholic faith was to be exacted from the non-Catholic party. Mixed marriages were not to be entitled to the Nuptial Mass.

Finances. Parochial funds ought to be divided into three portions: one for the support of the clergy, another for maintenance of the church, and a third for assisting the poor. Avarice and simony in regard to stipends were reprimanded. The faithful ought to be admonished to support the church and an instruction regarding the amount of stipends read to them. Cleanliness must be observed in regard to the church and altar, and trustees and ushers named to ensure good order at services.

Supplementary regulations. Lenten discipline, as revealed in the bishop’s pastoral for 1792, was severe: only liquids were allowed in the morning; milk and eggs, as well as meat, were banned from the collation, and meat was permitted only on most Sundays and Saturdays, but merely once. During 1810, the newly consecrated American hierarchy held an informal meeting. After reviewing and retaining the synodal legislation, they supplemented it by a few additional regulations. Theaters and dancing were to be discouraged; Catholics who joined the Freemasons were denied the sacraments; the Latin ritual was to be observed, save for duly authorized translations, and the stipend for Masses fixed at fifty cents.




Episcopal coadjutors. Lest some accident deprive the nascent Church in the United States of a bishop for a long period, Bishop Carroll petitioned the Holy See to divide his diocese or grant him a coadjutor. The Holy See preferred the latter alternative (1793) , and the Bavarian, Lawrence Graessl, was elected and confirmed by Rome, but died before his consecration. The second nominee, Leonard Neale, though confirmed in 1795, was not consecrated until 1800 by reason of delay in the arrival of documents. Bishop Neale, president of Georgetown College, had little share in diocesan administration until he succeeded Bishop [p. 427] Carroll at Baltimore (1815-17) . But by 1806 the diocese was well organized and the cornerstone for America’s first cathedral, that of the Assumption, was laid—it was not completed until 1821. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) extended Bishop Carroll’s responsibilities, for he was made administrator of the vacant see of New Orleans which had been erected under Spanish rule in 1793. In 1812 Bishop Carroll had William DuBourg named administrator, and the latter became bishop of New Orleans in 1815.

Metropolitan organization. Immigration continued to increase the number of Catholics, whose widely scattered residences placed many out of reach of the aging Bishop Carroll. After repeated pleas, he obtained from the Holy See a division of his immense diocese. In 1808 Pope Pius VII elevated Baltimore to metropolitan rank and gave it as suffragans the new sees of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown—subsequently Louisville. Bishop Concannon, nominated at Rome for New York, died en route with the documents, so that the consecration of the other bishops was delayed until 1810. Then Archbishop Carroll imposed hands in turn on Cheverus for Boston, Egan for Philadelphia, and Flaget for Bardstown. This completed the hierarchical organization of the United States during John Carroll’s lifetime, and the country remained a single ecclesiastical province for forty years. The venerable pioneer bishop ended a long life of missionary labor at Baltimore on December 3, 1815. The marks of esteem tendered him by Protestants as well as Catholics during his last days indicate that he had largely fulfilled the hopes that he expressed in 1785: “To dissipate prejudice, time will be our best aid, as also will Divine Providence and the experience of our fellow citizens in our devotion to our country and its independence.” He had seen the Church in the United States grow from about 25 priests and 25,000 Catholics in 1774, to at least 125 priests and 125,000 of the faithful by the time of his death—for the Catholic population is estimated at 195,000 by 1820.



B. Catholic Foundations (1773-1815)






Baltimore. Until the division of the diocese in 1808, Bishop Carroll preserved the existing subdivisions of the American mission. He himself cared for the Middle District in Maryland, and had fairly regular vicars-general for the Northern, Southern, and Western Districts. By 1815 Baltimore city had four churches and the seminary. But the Southern District was sparsely provided with missionary priests. Virginia received its first resident priest in 1791; he was Jean Dubois, future bishop of New York. The French Revolution was an ill wind that blew much good [p. 428] to the New World in the person of émigrés who worked in the Carolinas and Georgia. Unfortunately, insubordination and Trusteeism were also rife.

Boston had its first resident priest in 1788, but the pastors proved ill-suited until the arrival in 1792 of the exemplary Abbé François Matignon, whose brilliant assistant, Jean Cheverus, became the first bishop in 1808. Bigotry was not yet dead in Boston, for in 1800 Father Cheverus was tried for officiating at a Catholic marriage. Though threatened with the pillory, he was at length acquitted of wrongdoing. As bishop, this ascetic, sociable, learned missionary won all hearts. He was one of Boston’s leading citizens when ill-health forced him to return to France —where he was later named a cardinal.

New York. As late as 1777, Père de la Motte had been arrested for saying Mass in New York, but in 1781 Father Farmer could open a chapel over a carpenter shop. Catholics also worshipped in the Spanish Embassy chapel until St. Peter’s Church was erected in 1786 with donations from the Spanish crown. Trusteeism blighted the early history, and the first bishop never arrived in his see. Until the arrival of the second bishop in 1815, the diocese was administered by Father Anthony Kohlmann.

Philadelphia. By 1790 there were five parishes served by ex-Jesuits in Pennsylvania. The German Catholics were prone to welcome unauthorized priests of their language from Europe, and Trusteeism became serious. It was undoubtedly to placate malcontents that Bishop Carroll recommended the exemplary German priest Graessl as coadjutor, but after his premature death clerical disputes plagued the brief episcopate of the first bishop, Michael Egan (1808-14).

Bardstown was the scene of activity of Father Badin, self-styled “proto-priest of the United States.” This eccentric but basically zealous priest labored in the early West from 1794 to 1819. For bishop, Bardstown was happy to have the Sulpician, Benoit Flaget (1763-1850), who with his faithful lieutenant and coadjutor, John David (1761-1841), gave the Northwest over thirty years of prudent direction.




The democratic atmosphere of the United States might be termed the radical cause of Trusteeism, a near schismatic tendency that threatened ecclesiastical discipline in the United States during the first half century of its national existence. This development was less surprising since Catholics, a small minority in a predominantly Protestant environment, of necessity received only the minimum essentials of religious instruction, and but infrequently had an opportunity to receive the sacraments. In daily life they were continually exposed to the attractive [p. 429] theory of Democracy in civil government, which their Protestant compatriots were not slow in extending to religious government as well. Many American Catholics, despite a basic reverence for the Holy See, came to assume more or less in good faith that New World Democracy might modify traditional Catholic Authoritarianism.

Incorporation of church property provided the immediate occasion for the difficulty. Discriminatory laws during colonial days had forced Catholics to use devious methods to safeguard what little ecclesiastical property they had. The Jesuit missionaries in Maryland had usually taken title to church real estate as individuals, handing it on by will to their designated successors. This precarious system was at the mercy of accidents of sudden death, unsympathetic probate courts, and avaricious clerics. The Jesuits, barred from private property by their vow of poverty, conserved the church property intact, and even after secularization had preserved an esprit de corps. This could not be expected of seculars, some of whom had constituted disciplinary problems in their European dioceses, and were now open to temptations to avarice and ambition. A solution for the problem seemed to be suggested by an act of the New York legislature of April 6, 1784. This allowed lay trustees of any church or congregation to “have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy, all and singular the churches, meeting-houses, parsonages . . . to the sole and proper use and benefit of them the said trustees and their successors forever in as full, firm, and ample a manner in the law, as if the said trustees had been legally incorporated.”

Early problems. Though this and similar subsequent enactments of other states contemplated a Protestant type of ecclesiastical government, they were so worded as to permit Catholics to take advantage of them. The congregation of St. Peter’s Church in New York City began by choosing five lay trustees under the foregoing statute. Bishop Carroll, familiar with European and lay patronage, was induced to tolerate this procedure in view of the precarious condition of church property, though the sixth decree of his Synod contemplated appointment of the trustees by the pastor, and restricted their functions to taking up the collection. Bitter experience would reveal that some trustees, with more attention to civil than canon law, deemed themselves masters not only of the property but even of the clergy of the Church. Weak or venal clerics were found, moreover, to conspire with such trustees in defying episcopal authority itself. Instances of this serious evil appeared even during Bishop Carroll’s lifetime, although his prestige, popularity, and amiable tact mitigated problems and postponed major crises until later, when the problem would be aggravated by nationalist friction within Catholic ranks. Thus St. Peter’s of New York saw disputes between Fathers Whalen and Nugent until Father William O’Brien was finally recognized [p. 430] at law as legitimate pastor. Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia went as far as schism between 1797 and 1802 in defense of the clerical vagrants, Goetz and Elling. From 1793 Dr. Gallagher, orator and inebriate, was in and out of favor with hierarchy and trustees in the Carolinas, and eventually precipitated a schism in Charleston. At New Orleans, the rector of the cathedral, Antonio de Sedella, entrenched himself with his masonic-minded flock, and defied both Spanish and American episcopal authorities from 1785 to his death in 1829. By 1815, then, Trusteeism had by no means reached its peak.




Colonial mission schools are known in Florida from 1594, in New Mexico from 1630, in Texas in 1689, in Louisiana in 1722, in Missouri in 1774, in Indiana in 1786, and in California in 1793, but all ceased with the respective missions to which they had been attached. But the Ursuline Academy, founded in New Orleans in 1727, survived into the administration of the United States. English Jesuits had schools in Maryland and Pennsylvania; and one at Philadelphia, St. Mary’s, is regarded as the oldest parochial school in the United States.

Clerical formation, stressed in the papal bull of erection for Baltimore, was carried out through St. Mary’s Seminary. On his return to America, Bishop Carroll purchased One Mile Tavern as the nucleus of the new major seminary. Father Charles Nagot (1754-1816) became the first rector in 1791 and continued in his post until 1810. He brought over from France four professors and five seminarians for whose support the Sulpicians furnished 100,000 francs. The first ordinand (1793) was Stephen Badin, long a missionary in Kentucky, and the second (1795) was Lord Gallitizin who labored in Pennsylvania until his death in 1840. After his ordination the seminary lacked students for two years; only in 1800 did it ordain its third priest, the first native alumnus, Father William Mathews, pastor of St. Patrick’s in Washington from 1805 to 1855. In 1803, however, Father Emery ordered the Sulpicians’ return, claiming that the seminary was neither a financial nor spiritual success. Bishop Carroll appealed to the Holy See, and Pope Pius, at Paris in 1804 for Napoleon’s coronation, prevailed on Father Emery: “My son, let it stand; it will bear fruit in its own time.” St. Mary’s vindicated the papal prophecy, for between 1791 and 1815 thirty priests were ordained for the needy American mission. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to use secular colleges as preparatory seminaries, the Sulpicians opened a minor seminary at Mount St. Mary’s, Emmitsburg, in 1808; when this was taken over by the Diocese of Baltimore in 1826, they began another at Catonsville.

Lay instruction under the national period began with Carroll’s foundation of [p. 431] Georgetown College (1789). Sulpicians assisted in the teaching at Georgetown until 1806, when the College was committed to the revived Society of Jesus; it was chartered as a university in 1815. Besides the Sulpician colleges already mentioned, the Dominicans founded St. Thomas Academy in Kentucky in 1807. Most remarkable among these early educators was Father Richard, who in 1798 took over an existing French Canadian school at Detroit, opened a high school in 1802, edited the first Catholic newspaper, the Michigan Essay, in 1809, became vice-president of Michigan University in 1817, and was elected to the Federal Congress in 1823. Besides St. Mary’s parochial school in Philadelphia (1781), Holy Trinity School was erected in the same city in 1789. St. Peter’s parochial “free school” in New York City dates from 1800, but there is no record of a parish school in New England during Bishop Carroll’s lifetime. A school opened by the Poor Clares at Baltimore in 1792 was continued after their departure in 1805 by a community of Visitandines founded by Bishop Neale. Mother Seton is entitled to a place of honor beside Bishop Carroll as a pioneer educator, for her school dates from 1808, and educational institutions were associated with most of the early religious houses now to be noted.




Mother Seton. Elizabeth Bayley (1774-1821), reared as an Episcopalian, was married to Mr. William Seton (1768-1803) of New York in 1794. His death in Italy brought her into contact with Catholicity as practiced by their friends, the Filiccis. On her return to the United States, Mrs. Seton braved her minister’s displeasure to join the Catholic Church in 1805. Ostracized by most of her relatives, the widow turned to teaching in order to support her children. In time her life approximated to that of a religious and attracted disciples. Though she wished to affiliate her nascent community with St. Vincent de Paul’s Daughters of Charity, the Napoleonic Wars prevented this. Yet she modeled the rule of her Sisters of Charity after theirs, subject to certain modifications suggested by Bishop Carroll, who approved the institute in 1812. In the latter year her Academy begun at Baltimore in 1808 moved to Emmitsburg, which became the headquarters of her community. A portion of her foundation subsequently affiliated with the Daughters of Charity, while other groups survive as the Sisters of Charity.

Nuns. Though the first nuns in the United States, the Carmelite contemplatives (1791), could not be persuaded to open a school, educational institutions of one kind or another were associated with the convents of the Poor Clares (1792), the Visitandines (1799), Mother Seton’s Sisters of Charity (1812), and the Lorettines, founded in 1812 by Father Charles Nerinckx in Kentucky. [p. 432]

Communities of men. The Jesuit pioneers in the English Colonies were reinforced soon after American independence by the Austin Friars from Dublin (1796), the Franciscans under Father Egan, subsequently bishop of Philadelphia (1799), and the Dominicans, introduced by the native Marylander, Edward Fenwick, later bishop of Cincinnati (1804). The Trappists (1804-12), however, discovered that they could not endure pioneer clerical life without mitigating their severe austerities; they returned to Europe to await a more providential time. Enlisted for the American missions by Bishop Du Bourg at Rome, Fathers De Andreis, Rosati, and other Italian Vincentians departed for their destination late in 1815, but did not reach the United States during Bishop Carroll’s lifetime.



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