Immigration and anti catholicism
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Immigration and Anti-Catholicism. 1800 - 1920. Immigration. Statistics on Catholics in U.S.:. By 1800 - 40,000 By 1820 - 195,000 By 1850 - 1½ million By 1860 - 3 million By 1820 - 18 million The increase is almost entirely due to immigration. French. 1790 – 1800

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Immigration and Anti-Catholicism

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Immigration and anti catholicism

Immigration and Anti-Catholicism

1800 - 1920



Statistics on catholics in u s

Statistics on Catholics in U.S.:

  • By 1800 - 40,000

  • By 1820 - 195,000

  • By 1850 - 1½ million

  • By 1860 - 3 million

  • By 1820 - 18 million

    The increase is almost entirely due to immigration



  • 1790 – 1800

  • Caused by French Revolution

  • Influences:

    • Highly authoritarian

    • Love of ritual

    • Devotion to Blessed Virgin

  • Early 19th century, majority of bishops were French immigrants

Immigration and anti catholicism

Bishop DuBourg of St. Louis

Bishop Flaget of Bardstown

Bishop Lamy of

Santa Fe

Bishop Machebeuf of Denver



  • 1820 – 1920

  • Caused by search for economic opportunity and, after 1870, persecution of Catholics in Germany

  • Mostly farmers and tradesmen

  • Settled in “German Triangle” between Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • Influences:

    • Involved in their local parishes

    • Catholic schools

      The first Catholics to settle in Ohio were German immigrants who settled near Somerset



  • 1820 – 1900

  • Came fleeing persecution in Ireland, famine, and looking for economic opportunity

  • Settled in large cities of East Coast and Great Lakes

  • Mostly under 25, illiterate, unmarried

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • Influences:

    • Importance of education

    • Stress religious vocations in their children

    • Rely on clergy – the priest is the most important person in the parish

      By 1900:

    • 50% of all Catholics are Irish

    • 65% of clergy are Irish

    • 70% of bishops are Irish



  • U.S. conquered 1/3 of Mexico in 1848 – California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado

  • 80,000 Hispanic Catholics became part of the U.S.

  • Immigration has increased the number – Hispanics are nearly 25% of American Catholics

Immigration and anti catholicism


  • Popular devotions

  • Importance of home-based religious traditions

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe – patroness of the Americas

Anti catholicism


Historic roots of anti catholicism

Historic Roots of Anti-Catholicism

  • English attitudes towards Catholics

  • Feeling that Catholics are not loyal to the government because of their allegiance to the pope

  • Protestant beliefs that Catholicism is not a Biblical religion because of its reliance on papal teachings, its veneration of Mary and saints, and rituals

Nativism part 1

Nativism(Part 1)

  • 1820 – 1846

  • Caused by –

    • Increased immigration

    • The rise of Protestant Revivalism

    • An economic downturn and the fact that immigrants were willing to work for lower wages

    • Question of teaching religion in public schools

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • 1830, magazine “The Protestant” founded to “inculcate Gospel doctrines against Romish corruptions.”

  • 1834 burning of Ursuline convent and school in Charlestown, Mass.

  • 1836 publication of “The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk” – a supposed memoir of life in a convent in Montreal

Immigration and anti catholicism

Frontispiece from an edition of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk

Philadelphia riots

Philadelphia Riots

  • Over the issue of allowing Catholic students to use the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible in religion class in public schools

  • Led to anti-Catholic riots during which several churches were burned and 14 people died

Nativism part 2

Nativism(Part 2)

  • 1854 – 1860

  • “Know Nothing Party” established

    • Only “native born” Protestant Americans of European ancestry should be allowed to be citizens

    • Attempted to prevent Catholic citizens from voting

      • “Bloody Monday” – Louisville, 1855

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • Became majority in Congress – able to pass anti-Catholic laws (all of which were overturned in the courts)

  • Died out by 1860 because they had no stand on the slavery issue

Idealized portrait of a member of the Know Nothing Party

Immigration and anti catholicism

“I have been educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic; sometimes, in consequence of this, I find it easier to discover Catholic faults than Catholic merits.”

Mark Twain

Nativism part 3

Nativism(Part 3)

  • 1887 – 1898

  • Main Issue: Catholic Schools

    • Belief that Catholic education is subversive and students are being taught to be loyal to the pope rather than good American citizens

    • Fear that Catholics will overthrow the government and replace it with a theocracy, getting rid of the Bill of Rights

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • Immigration is still an issue, especially as more immigrants from Eastern Europe are entering the country

  • Important spokesperson – political cartoonist Thomas Nast

The ku klux klan

The Ku Klux Klan

  • 1920s

  • See themselves as protecting America for white, Protestant Americans against Blacks, Jews, Catholics and Mexicans

Immigration and anti catholicism

Against Al Smith, the first Catholic candidate for president

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • Most organized anti-Catholicism ends with the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency

Immigration and anti catholicism

  • "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me.“ Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Assc. In 1960

Anti catholicism today

Anti-Catholicism Today

  • Little organized anti-Catholicism

  • A few Fundamentalist Christian groups – especially Jack Chick Publications

  • Anti-Catholic attitudes are still fairly common – it has been called “the last acceptable prejudice” recently

  • The clergy pedophilia cover-up brought a lot of those attitudes out

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