Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism: Some Bibliographic Suggestions

Paul Harvey

A few months ago, a subscriber to H-AMREL posted this inquiry, which I thought would be of interest to some readers of this blog:

I am creating a syllabus for a seminar in the History of American Catholicism, and I would be particularly interested in suggestions for good journal articles for the early republic and antebellum periods. Iwould be particularly interested in works on anti-Catholicism. Suggestions of full-length books would also be appreciated, but I am already familiar with several major works, and they all seem to be currently available in paperback. Although the matter is less pressing, suggestions for appropriate readings on the period between the world wars would also be appreciated.

The query received a number of replies, which add up to a nice beginning bibliography for the subject. Here's a compilation.

The first respondent wrote: Here are a few article possibilities on Catholicism in the early republic and antebellum period:

Carter, Michael S. "'Under the Benign Sun of Toleration": Mathew Carey,the Douai Bible, and Catholic Print Culture, 1789-1791" Journal of the Early Republic 27 (Fall 2007).

Dolan, Jay. "The Search for an American Catholicism, 1780-1820," in Religious Diversity and American Religious History, ed. Walter H.Conser, Jr. and Sumner B. Twiss, University of Georgia Press, 1997, pp.26-51.

Dolan, Jay. "Catholicism and American Culture: Strategies for Survival," in Minority Faiths and the American Protestant Mainstream, ed. Jonathan D. Sarna, University of Illinois Press, 1997, pp. 61-80.

Fenton, Elizabeth. "Catholic Canadians, Religious Pluralism, and National Unity in the Early U.S. Republic," in Early American Literature, Vol. 41, No. 1, 29-57.

Lannie, Vincent P. "Alienation in America: The Immigrant Catholic and Public Education in Pre-Civil War America." Review of Politics, XXXII (1970), 503-521.

Lannie, Vincent P. and Bernard C. Diethorn. "For the Honor and Glory ofGod: The Philadelphia Bible Riots, 1840" History of Education Quarterly,Vol. 8, No. 1 (Spring, 1968): 44-106.

Next response:

All but one of these are full-length books, but I'm passing them along just in case they aren't already on your radar.

Early Republic and Antebellum periods: Ray Allen Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism (New York: Macmillan, 1938).

The classic work on the subject, this book charts the rise and fall ofthe Know Nothings in the mid-19th century.

Davis, David Brion. "Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 2. (Sep., 1960), pp. 105-224.

Another classic, dealing with the interrelationships between these three forms of intolerance in the mid-19th century: Jenny Franchot, Roads to Rome: The Antebellum Protestant Encounter with Roman Catholicism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).Excellent material, but a tough read. I would only recommend this for graduate students and advanced undergrads.J

john T. McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (New York:W.W. Norton & Company, 2003). The early chapters deal with the antebellum period.

Interwar: Lerond Curry, Protestant-Catholic Relations in America: World War I Through Vatican II (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1972).

The next response adds a few more:

Daniel Cohen. "Passing the Torch: Boston Firemen, "Tea Party" Patriots,and the Burning of the Charlestown Convent." Journal of the EarlyRepublic, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter 2004), pages 527-586.

And then:

With regard to 19th century American Catholicism, I would draw your attention to two articles by Tracy Fessenden, "The Convent, the Brothel, and the Protestant Woman'sSphere." Signs, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Winter, 2000), pp. 451-478, and "The Nineteenth Century Bible Wars and the Separation of Church and State." Church History." Vol. 74, no. 4 (December 2005), pp. 785-811. Also her recently published book, Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular,and American Literature, which actually extends into the twentieth century. As with Jenny Franchot's work, this material is not an easy read, but well worth the effort.

For American Catholicism in the period between the two world wars, I have found particularly insightful William M. Halsey's The Survival of American Innocence (Notre Dame, 1980).

A graduate student respondent includes some articles that emphasize more religious cooperation than conflict and anti-Catholicism:

For different perspectives on American Catholicism andanti-Catholicism during the antebellum period, might I suggest:

Andrew Stern, “Southern Harmony: Catholic-ProtestantRelations in the Antebellum South,” Religion in American Culture 17.2 (Summer 2007).

Emily Clark and Virginia Meacham Gould, “The Feminine Face of Afro-Catholicism in New Orleans, 1727-1852,” William andMary Quarterly 59.2 (2002): 409-448.

Joseph Mannard's work on Protestant-Catholic relations throughthe lens of gender studies could also be useful to you, and they are article-length pieces (as opposed to the Franchot book!) I particularly like:

Mannard, “Maternity. . . of the Spirit: Nuns and Domesticity in Antebellum America,” U.S. Catholic Historian 5.3-4 (1986):305-324.

Mannard, “Protestant Mothers and Catholic Sisters: Gender Concerns in Anti-Catholic Conspiracy Theories, 1830-1860,”American Catholic Studies 111 (2000): 1-21.

Gene Mills of Florida State adds:

And then don't forget:

Michael Pasquier, "'Though Their Skin Remains Brown, I Hope Their SoulsWillSoon Be White': Slavery, French Missionaries, and the Roman Catholic Priesthood inthe American South, 1789-1865" _Church History_ June 2008.


Anonymous said…
Great topic, Paul! I wanted to let readers know that Elizabeth Fenton is writing a book, "Religious Liberties: Anti-Catholicism and Liberal Democracy in U.S. Literature and Culture, 1774-1889," which should be out on Oxford in the next year or two. What I've seen of it is fabulous.

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