Catholics  Lost Cause
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In the fascinating Catholics’ Lost Cause, Adam Tate argues that the primary goal of clerical leaders in antebellum South Carolina was to build a rapprochement between Catholicism and southern culture that would aid them in rooting Catholic institutions in the region in order to both sustain and spread their faith.

A small minority in an era of prevalent anti-Catholicism, the Catholic clergy of South Carolina engaged with the culture around them, hoping to build an indigenous southern Catholicism. Tate’s book describes the challenges to antebellum Catholics in defending their unique religious and ethnic identities while struggling not to alienate their overwhelmingly Protestant counterparts. In particular, Tate cites the work of three antebellum bishops of the Charleston diocese, John England, Ignatius Reynolds, and Patrick Lynch, who sought to build a southern Catholicism in tune with their specific regional surroundings.

As tensions escalated and the sectional crisis deepened in the 1850s, South Carolina Catholic leaders supported the Confederate States of America, thus aligning themselves and their flocks to the losing side of the Civil War. The war devastated Catholic institutions and finances in South Carolina, leaving postbellum clerical leaders to rebuild within a much different context.

Scholars of American Catholic history, southern history, and American history will be thoroughly engrossed in this largely overlooked era of American Catholicism.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 septembre 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268104207
Langue English

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Catholics’ Lost Cause
Catholics’ Lost Cause
South Carolina Catholics and the American South, 1820–1861
Adam L. Tate
University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana
Copyright © 2018 by the University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
All Rights Reserved
Published in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Tate, Adam L., 1972– author.
Title: Catholics’ lost cause : South Carolina Catholics and the American South, 1820–1861 / Adam L. Tate.
Description: Notre Dame, Indiana : University of Notre Dame Press, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. |
Identifiers: LCCN 2018036125 (print) | LCCN 2018042823 (ebook) | ISBN 9780268104191 (pdf) | ISBN 9780268104207 (epub) | ISBN 9780268104177 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 0268104174 (hardback : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Catholic Church—South Carolina—History—19th century. | South Carolina—Church history—19th century.
Classification: LCC BX1415.S6 (ebook) | LCC BX1415.S6 T38 2018 (print) | DDC 282/.75709034--dc23
LC record available at
∞ This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at
For Eugenie
The Context of Catholicism in Antebellum South Carolina
Spreading the Word
Apologetics: Will the Real American Please Stand Up?
An Identity of Our Own Making: Public Representations of Catholicism in Charleston
Republicanism and Common Sentiments: South Carolina Catholics and Politics
South Carolina Catholics and Slavery
One often works under the illusion that writing and research are solitary and lonely tasks. But such thoughts soon fade after considering the numerous people who contribute to one’s labors. I have incurred many debts while working on this project and wish to acknowledge a few of the many people who have assisted me.
Three fellow scholars often listened to me and offered their advice. Kevin Schmiesing, my old friend, encouraged me frequently during the project and read the manuscript. His probing questions and careful eye for detail made me think through many of my assumptions. Nathan Coleman took time from his own work to read chapters of the manuscript as I was working on them. He assisted me greatly in honing my argument and rewriting awkward spots. He demonstrated his friendship by encouraging me throughout the process. I am greatly in debt to him. Finally, my good friend and colleague David Gilbert read the manuscript, asked pointed questions, offered critiques, and pushed me to write clearly. I could not have completed the project without his steady support. All mistakes in the book, of course, are mine.
Others too have supported the project. The librarians at Clayton State University, particularly Barbara Dantzler and Rhonda Boozer, fielded my many requests for materials. Archivists at Emory University, the University of South Carolina, and the Archives of the Diocese of Charleston, especially Melissa B. Mabry, provided critical assistance. My colleague R. B. Rosenburg helped me in the research process through his mastery of navigating numerous databases. My editor at the University of Notre Dame Press, Eli Bortz, patiently led me through the peer review process and offered great advice and support. Sheila Berg assisted me in producing a polished product. Peer review, as usual, improved the manuscript greatly, and I owe thanks to the anonymous reviewers.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the support of teachers, friends, and family. Obviously, I could not have written this book without the early guidance of many professors who took their valuable time to teach me how to write and argue as a historian. My graduate school mentor Forrest McDonald died as I was completing the manuscript. I thought of his example and advice often during the process, and I hope his lessons about writing have paid off here. My good friend Charles Rumore encouraged me to write when I thought I would never be able to begin. He also listened to various ideas and insights. Finally, my wife and children endured much as I researched and wrote. I dedicate this book to my wife, Eugenie, who has supported me so much through our years together. I could not have done this without her. Thank you.
In the Confederate Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, there is a handmade crown of thorns supposedly given to Jefferson Davis after the Civil War by Pope Pius IX. The display suggests a deep sympathy between the pope and the Confederacy, alludes to a link between the Catholic Church and the American South, and could imply that southern Catholics, perhaps unlike their northern coreligionists, had accommodated well and comparatively easily to a region in which their numbers were small. While Pius did send Davis a personal letter, the crown of thorns story is false. Scholars have demonstrated that the Confederate president’s wife, Varina, actually made the item. 1
The story of the crown of thorns hints—at least in the minds of some people—that there was a natural affinity between Catholicism and the South. The claim has had some durability, appearing in both contemporary accounts and in modern scholarship. Before 1840 most of the Catholic dioceses in the United States were southern. 2 During the antebellum period, some northern evangelicals, who despised both southerners and Catholics, connected the two and labeled each as regressive and un-American. Abolitionists made those claims frequently. 3 After the Civil War, northern nativists often labeled Confederates and Catholics equally as destroyers of the nation. 4 W. Jason Wallace has shown how those attitudes influenced antebellum American politics, and the literary scholar Jenny Franchot has illuminated the same theme in the literature of the early nineteenth century. 5 Eugene Genovese maintained that southern conservatism and Catholicism overlapped in several areas. Catholics, he noted, “found a much warmer reception among the slaveholders of the South than among the propertied classes of the North.” 6 Andrew Stern’s recent work on Catholic-Protestant relations in the South adopts and expands Genovese’s arguments. Stern studied the experiences of Catholics in Charleston, Mobile, and Louisville. He concluded that Catholics and Protestants collaborated in a friendly manner more often than they fought with one another. 7 David Gleeson, the foremost authority on the Irish in the antebellum South, also perceives a region friendly to Irish Catholic immigrants in the nineteenth century. He writes, “Native tolerance was crucial to Irish integration into society. Poor foreign immigrants from Ireland could not have become southerners without the help of what one of them called the ‘chivalrous people.’” 8 While the nineteenth-century South remained largely Protestant, both contemporaries and scholars have recognized a certain compatibility between the region and Catholicism.
Literary scholars also have examined the theme of Catholic-southern affinity, noting the influence of postbellum writers, particularly twentieth-century southern Catholic writers, on the subject. Allen Tate, one of the Vanderbilt Agrarians, converted to Catholicism, as did his wife, Caroline Gordon. Flannery O’Conner and Walker Percy, two of the most famous southern writers of the mid- to late twentieth century, wrote as Catholics. Thomas Haddox and Bryan Giemza, adding to the insights of Franchot, have examined in detail the literature of Catholic southerners. These scholars argue that the affinity between Catholicism and the South was not essential but a conscious creation of writers to serve polemical purposes. One scholar, John Thompson, has underlined the irony in this posited affinity. Of prominent southern converts to Catholicism, Thompson remarked, “These conversions stand out for their very unusualness—not because the converts were famous writers, but because so few Southerners of any kind have turned to Rome in the twentieth century. Intensely anti-Catholic, militantly fundamentalist, the South has not been receptive to the Church’s message. Those who have responded to it have trod a lonely path that has directed their footsteps away from solidarity with their region and their people.” 9 If conversion brought alienation, did an affinity really exist?
Some scholars have suggested that southern Catholics abandoned their religious principles in order to accommodate to the culture around them. Thus their affinity to the South came at the cost of the purity of their faith. “The [Catholic] Church,” Randall Miller suggests, “like the Protestant churches, yielded to social and political pressures and adopted a Southern stance on social issues. Almost in spite of itself, the Southern Church adapted to local conditions, with little appreciation of the consequences.” According to this interpretation, Catholics in the South “won social and political acceptance” by “sanctifying the secular order of slavery and states’ rights.” 10 Other scholars have portrayed the Irish as being “confined” by southern culture or as willing participants in institutions of oppressio

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