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In 150 year old case, Rhode Island confronts its anti-Catholic past
cna ^ | May 12, 2011 | Marianne Medlin

Posted on 05/12/2011 2:26:21 PM PDT by NYer

Nancy Lusignan Schultz / Photo Credit: Kim Mimnaugh

Salem, Mass., May 12, 2011 / 05:55 am (CNA).- Rhode Island lawmakers voted last week to pardon an Irish Catholic man they say was wrongfully executed in 1845. The decision closes an ugly chapter in the long history of discrimination against Catholics in the U.S. 

“Anti-Catholicism was certainly one of the first religious prejudices brought to the new world, and it became widespread” in the 19th century, according to Nancy Schultz, Ph.D of Salem State University in Massachusetts.

Schultz was commenting on the May 4 decision by the Rhode Island legislature to pardon John Gordon – a 29 year-old Irish immigrant who was hanged for a murder many say he didn't commit.

Gordon was convicted in 1843 and executed two years later for allegedly killing a wealthy Rhode Island mill owner who had political connections.

Historians now believe that the evidence against Gordon was tainted and indicative of widespread discrimination against Irish Catholics. During trial, witnesses failed to positively identify Gordon and a judge instructed jurors to take “Yankee” witnesses more seriously than Irish ones.

“Catholics had difficulty getting a fair trial in New England during the nineteenth century,” said Schultz in a May 10 interview.

Schultz is an authority in English and American Literature and is author of several books on historical religious discrimination in America.

Her new book, “Mrs. Mattingly's Miracle,” (Yale, $30) traces how the more tolerant Maryland tradition in the nation’s capital of accepting Catholicism during the 1820s began to decline into “full-fledged, New England-style anti-Catholicism.”

She told CNA that from 1830 to 1860 in particular, movements such as the “Protestant Crusade” attempted to stop the spread of Catholicism in the United States.

Schultz pointed to examples of public discrimination against Catholics such as the case involving arsonists who burned down a Massachusetts convent in 1834. The trials, she said, “were an occasion for anti-Catholic mockery.” 

When the mob leaders who destroyed the Charlestown convent were acquitted, there was “great rejoicing in the streets of Boston.”

Schultz also noted that Gordon’s hanging in 1845 came just nine years before a gift of a block of marble from Pope Pius IX for the construction of the Washington Monument “was thrown into the Potomac River” by members of the anti-Catholic “Know-Nothing” party. 

She explained that “large numbers of Irish fleeing economic turmoil in nineteenth-century Ireland and immigrating to America” helped give rise to the nativist, or “Know-Nothing” party, which rose to national prominence in the mid 19th century.

“The name came from the response of members of this anti-Catholic secret society. When asked about their activities, they would say, 'I know nothing.'”

Schultz said that the Ku Klux Klan and the American Protective Association were 20th century remnants of the Know Nothing Party. 

“Today, fear of immigrants and the attempts to legislate restriction of languages other than English have their origins in this history,” she said.

Schultz explained that the roots of anti-Catholicism in the U.S. can be traced back to the Puritans, who came to New England several centuries ago.

The Puritans would burn effigies of the Pope in the streets on Guy Fawke’s Day, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, “when the Catholic Fawkes was arrested for placing explosives under the House of Lords in England,” she said.  

In 1775, George Washington ordered the practice to be stopped.

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Moral Issues; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: irish; ri
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To: muawiyah

Who cares? Regardless of denomination, they were Protestants. They sure as heck weren’t Catholics.

61 posted on 05/13/2011 2:04:52 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica
So, you don't know the fundamental differences ~ Presbyterians would come up with a wholly different justification for fascism than would the Baptists, as, of course, would the Catholics.

Still, the USA, dominated by all sorts of Protestants BACKED the Catholics in their rebellion against Mexico in Tejas.

The problem here is that folks want to BLAME A GROUP for the sins of a few. I'd suggest that if you don't want that to happen, don't engage in it ~ your example will be taken as saintly and you will earn stars in Heaven.

A soft word turneth away wrath. "soft word".

62 posted on 05/13/2011 2:16:02 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

It doesn’t matter what denomination they were. They. Were. Protestants.

Facts are facts.

As a Catholic, I’m very used to seeing A GROUP BLAMED for the sins of a few here at FR. If you’re a regular of the forum, you’ll know exactly what I mean. And more than a few engage in it.

I’m not a saint, so you’ll forgive me if I speak plainly, at the risk of not speaking softly.

63 posted on 05/13/2011 2:36:03 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica
I only do religious business with saints, and you can ask st. Salvation and st. Charity about that.

I am also in the practice of differentiating between the different sorts of Orthodox Catholics (I look at the height of the hats), and also differentiating between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, and all of them with the guys in Egypt who were excommunicated for so many centuries by both the Roman church and all the others!

Fur Shur I know the difference between Mel Gibson's father's private church and Rome, although we have some hard core RCs here who DON'T WANT TO BELIEVE that Mel is "different"!!!!!

The accusation being made is that New York Presbyterians influenced Souvrn' Baptists ~ and that just ain't so.

For a substantial period of time they were actually shooting at each other! Even Catholics served in that war, although entirely too many Irishmen who landed in Souvrn' ports took up with the Confederates (for my taste, but maybe not yours).

The biggest anti-Catholic action taken by anyone regarding America was a decision by someone in Rome TO NOT BOTHER SENDING PRIESTS, so they didn't, and there you have it.

Jefferson and the gang had to almost start shanghaing Catholic priests to tend to their own congregations.

64 posted on 05/13/2011 2:45:46 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
I only do religious business with saints,

In that case, don't mind me as I go on about the business of pointing out inconvenient facts.

65 posted on 05/13/2011 2:49:40 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica
Facts are never inconvenient. Failure to rise to the stature of one destined for sainthood is, of course, inconvenient.

Remember, for many Americans, due to family tradition, the Civil War is an ever present burning flame ~ so whatever these religious differences, and slights respecting them, are, that's nothing compared to my Great Great Grandfathers who spent a couple of years in Andersonville!

It was good to Free The Slaves. It was good to be a Republican. It was even better to Win the War.

It's good to have Murphy family relatives and ancestors ~ did you know that? Makes me confident that people in America can do anything.

66 posted on 05/13/2011 2:58:06 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Lorica
Lusignan ~ an inconvenient fact. This ol'gal's ancestors LOST THE HOLYLAND.

They are doomed!

67 posted on 05/13/2011 3:03:14 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
Facts are never inconvenient.

Oh, they certainly can be.

Failure to rise to the stature of one destined for sainthood is, of course, inconvenient.

I'll get there eventually...once I get out of Purgatory.

68 posted on 05/13/2011 3:07:15 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica

There are divisions of opinion about whether or not you can get out of Purgatory, or whether or not it even exists. And that’s just inside the Catholic church. You oughta’ hear what the Holy Rollers have to say about it. WOW!

69 posted on 05/13/2011 4:16:49 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Good thing I don’t spend too much time on opinions, then.

70 posted on 05/13/2011 4:25:38 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica

Some things are better dealt with spiritually ~ actually, with total resignation ~ like Buddhism proposes. If it happens it happens.

71 posted on 05/13/2011 4:30:36 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
Most things are better dealt with spiritually, and with submission to the will of God. The idea of total resignation to the Divine Will is beautifully illustrated in the book Abandonment to Divine Providence
72 posted on 05/13/2011 5:00:47 PM PDT by Lorica
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To: Lorica

See how we can agree ~

73 posted on 05/13/2011 5:14:13 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Please don’t use me to post your ramblings, choose some other fortunate soul.

74 posted on 05/14/2011 12:35:29 AM PDT by ansel12 ( JIM DEMINT "I believe [Palins] done more for the Republican Party than anyone since Ronald Reagan")
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To: ansel12

You are not required to read.

75 posted on 05/14/2011 5:32:38 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Don’t keep pinging me, just go bother someone else.

76 posted on 05/14/2011 1:42:16 PM PDT by ansel12 ( JIM DEMINT "I believe [Palins] done more for the Republican Party than anyone since Ronald Reagan")
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To: livius

No King, No Pope.

77 posted on 05/14/2011 2:12:17 PM PDT by Little Bill (Sorry)
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To: hellbender
Because of the...

Actually it doesn't seem quite that way. That's a very interesting question on whether scientific breakthrough was purely or even lead by "Protestants"

Let's check through this

Let's set the historical background first -- Europe in 1500. Population estimates taken from Internet Medieval Source book


Population (millions)

Position as a nation-state

British Isles


Until the end of the 100 years wars, it seemed that England and France would merge under one king.  When the English lost and were thrown out of Western France, that led to the consolidation of both England and France as nation-states with language unity.

However, Scotland still was independent and the Welsh chaffed under English rule.

Ireland is reduced to warring clans.

France & low countries


See above.  France emerges as the strongest nation-state, but is really an empire with the northern, “French-speaking” population around Paris ruling over the southern l’Oil areas.  The French had recently destroyed and conquered the Duchy of Burgundy


The low countries (Belgium, Netherlands) are part of Spain and remain so until 1600.  These were once the capitals of the Holy Roman Empire (Bruges was once a center of trade) and hence have a larger population, more trade and commerce.  

Belgium is part of Holland until 1830 even though it is completely Catholic.  In 1830 it fights and gets independence.

Germany & Scandanavia


No sense of nation-state until Napoleon and even then as nation-states like Hesse, Bavaria, etc. not as Germany (that only happens post WWI and more especially post WWII when Germans from Eastern Europe who have lived in EE for centuries are thrown out to Germany)

Scandanavia has a stronger sense of nation-states, but the Swedes are in union with the Geats (Goths) and the Norwegians and Danes are in a union.  

The strongest nation-state is Denmark. 

Sweden is close but will not develop it until the 1600s.  

Norway is still tribal as is Iceland and Finland

Switzerland is still part of the Holy Roman Empire and has no sense of a nation-state but is a loose confederation that have nothing in common except that they band together against common enemies.  This will remain the state of Switzerland until Napoleon conquers Switzerland and creates the Helvetic Confederation (and then adds it to France!).  Post Napoleon, there is consolidation, but Switzerland still has a large civil war and only gets some semblance of a nation state in the late 1800s



No sense of nation-state, but strong city-states.  This is the most advanced “nation” in Western Europe, with an advanced financial system, manufacturing, strong in agriculture etc.  Only it does not have a central government, which puts it in a bad position compared to France and Spain who interfere in the city-states.

Italy is not united until Garibaldi in the late 1800s.



Strong nation-states formed in opposition to the Moors.  Not very advanced economically as this is still very agricultural.  However, it is tied to the economically stronger Arab world and with the discovery of gold in the Americas, it will be the most powerful state for the 1500s -1680s until the rise of Louis XIV France



Under Ottoman rule, strong sense of nation-state, but no self-rule.  

Highly advanced economies in Greece and Anatolia, arguably most advanced in all of Europe.  

Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bulgaria are devastated by the Ottomans with many fleeing to the mountains.  Agriculture, culture etc. severely decline.

They are hit on two sides – by the Turks militarily and, because the Turks have a “millet” system where people of one religion are grouped together and the millet for all of these is Orthodoxy, the Bulgarians, Romanians etc. are kept under Greek Phanariotes.  Hence their culture declines while Greek culture thrives.



Still expanding south and east, conquering the Emirates of Kazan etc. This is still a barbaric state and remains so until Peter the Great.  It has a sense of purpose, but it’s purpose is Christianity as they believe they are the last Christian state and have a holy duty to push back the Moslems.  Economic and scientific development is poor as the focus is on war and agriculture – life is too hard and land too vast to develop like Western Europe.



Consolidating nation-state, however, more based on a confederacy as there are 4 nations here: Poles, Lithuanians, Ruthenians (Ukrainians, Belarusians) and Jews.  This mixed with 4 different religions (Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam (Lipka Tartars)) means a very tolerant state – tolerance levels of these are not reached by Western Europe until the late Victorian era.



Strong nation state of the Magyars in Magyaristan (we English speakers give them an exonym of Hungary while they call themselves Magyar).  However, the Magyars (descendents of Finno-Ugaric warriors) are mostly ruling class and warriors, they import Saxons as merchants.  The native Romanians, Slovaks, etc are kept as serfs.  The state is one of war



Strong nation-state but at war with the Holy Roman Empire and Poland has given it a sense of insecurity.  It will eventually be absorbed by Austria-hungary.

The net effect is that before the reformation you essentially have only 5 viable "nation"-states. In orders of strenght of national identity:
  1. England
  2. Denmark
  3. France
  4. Spain
  5. Portugal
The financial positions of these countries do NOT change as part of the reformation. They remain more or less the same until the mid-1700s. In fact, the economic position of Germany declines due to the 30 years war and even worse, the Peace of Westphalia

1683, Battle of Vienna and 1701-1714 there is the War of Spanish succession -- THAT changes everything in Europe.. At the end of this, Spain and Portugal are in decline, France is the most powerful state and will remain so until 1812. the Ottoman Turks are in precipituous decline, Russia is expanding south and east rapidly and modernizing fast from an Asian monarchy to a more European-style feudal state. Germany gets consolidated into 4 majory states: Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg-Prussia and Hesse-Hanover. The Swedes are now extremely powerful and in 50 years invade Poland and Russia (the Deluge) -- this destroys the commonwealth and even though it reforms it is never the same under the Swedish Vasa kings of Poland nor the Saxon kings of Poland. THe commonwealth is irrevocably headed for 1791 when Poland is carved up by Prussia, Russia and Austria.


Next, urbanization in Europe in 1800

As you can see, the heaviest urbanization has been in the triangle formed by London, Paris and Amsterdam


Scientific innovation --> I couldn't find an online map for this, but there are books available and there should be something online. however, I need to figure out the right google-words!

Anyway, scientific innovations leading the industrial revolution are exclusively found in these 2 countries:
    England (right from the north to the south)
  1. France (mostly in the north)
England is Anglican, France is Catholic. Germany is Lutheran and Catholic (60-40) and the Dutch republic is reformed. The latter two have their scientific developments but in sheer quantity they lag behind England and France. Scandanavia is Lutheran and has fewer scientific developments and mostly in Sweden or Denmark i.e. in the populated states). Eastern Europe and southern Europe are in the throes of war or recovering from their declines as powerful entites, so the developments are least over here.

So, the scientific developments are not exclusively any type of Protestant -- if anything, the industrial revolution is led by High-Church Anglican Britain and Catholic France.

But does religion have a role to play in this?

I would argue yes in the case of Anglicanism -- it is far less rigid in it's structure than either the CAtholic countries OR the Lutheran/Reformed state countries. While all the countries had state religions, Anglicanism was the most "flexible" -- you had near Catholics in the High-Church Anglicans and reformed in the "Low Church Anglicans", so religion did play a factor because Anglicanism was flexible compared to Catholicism, Calvinism or Lutheranism -- but what were the other factors?

The other factors are:
Which brings me to the second fact -- war and peace. England and France mostly fight on the periphery or on overseas territories. They are not fighting like Spain or Eastern Europe or Germany on their homelands. This means that the home populations have the peace to focus on science and economy.

Finally, the last factor -- success breeds success. By the Victorian era, the momentum of scientific discovery in England and France meant that smart people were encouraged to come to these countries as they knew they'd get opportunities. It's the same reason why silicon valley is the centre of IT research -- as we reach a critical mass of smart folks, this mass expands itself, absorbing smart people from elsewhere --> on a side note, check how many American nobel laureates were born outside the US and see how the key factor affecting our scientific growth is that we no longer have the super-critical mass of smart folks we once had
78 posted on 05/16/2011 6:13:54 AM PDT by Cronos (Libspeak: "Yes there is proof. And no, for the sake of privacy I am not posting it here.")
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