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Manifest Catholicity: Ultramontane Nationalists and American Expansion, 1844-1861

Denton, Andrew N. (2016)
Dissertation (259 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Holifield, Brooks
Committee Members: Strom, Jonathan ; Yannakakis, Yanna
Research Fields: Religious history; American history; Latin American history
Keywords: Catholic Church, U.S.; Manifest Destiny; Ultramontanism; Filibustering
Program: Laney Graduate School, Religion (Historical Studies in Theology and Religion)
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rgtnt

Abstract

During the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the public voices of Catholicism in the United States cultivated a nationalistic imagination that linked the hopes of the transatlantic Catholic revival to the reigning enthusiasm for transcontinental expansion. Buoyed by the Catholic Church's rapid growth within the United States, these "ultramontane nationalists" embraced their own modified notions of "Manifest Destiny," assured that national expansion would reap spiritual benefits. Yet their confidence in the American experiment could not go far without betraying their concurrent commitment to the international ultramontane alliance against liberal statecraft. Catholic prelates and publicists repeatedly found their patriotic efforts a matter of some ambivalence. They supported the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1846 but resented the belittlement of the enemy and the damage to church property that predictably accompanied it. They extolled the virtues--and the supposedly Catholic foundations--of their constitutional republic but deplored the republican ambitions of both transatlantic insurgents and homegrown filibusters seeking to "revolutionize" the Caribbean. They styled themselves champions of national unity throughout the sectional crisis, but their conservative social and political instincts lent them a pronounced Southern accent.

In order to reconcile their national ambitions and their supranational commitments, ultramontane Catholics reimagined the United States as a Catholic country. They drew attention to Catholic colonial precedents, lionizing the Spanish foundations of newly annexed territories in particular. They developed a "counter-narrative" that traced American liberty to Maryland's pilgrims rather than New England's. By the mid-1850s they began to see a nation unified by Catholic faith as both a realistic possibility and necessary corrective to the republic's divisive tendencies. Cast in increasingly factional terms, however, their national imaginaire only exacerbated the rifts that it sought to heal. In all this, U.S. Catholics were not unlike their ultramontane contemporaries in Mexico, who advanced a counternarrative for their own conflicted republic in at midcentury, grounding hopes for national redemption in religious unity.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER

1. THE INVENTION OF CATHOLIC AMERICA……………………………..……….1

2. REFUTING THE BLACK LEGEND, DEFENDING THE WHITE REPUBLIC…....47

3. THE LAND OF THE CROSS…………………………………………..…………….89

4. FILIBUSTERISM AND CATHOLICITY ………………………………………...123

5. TO MEXICANIZE THIS REPUBLIC………………………………………………153

6. LA UNIDAD CATΓ“LICA..………………………………………...………………...191

EPILOGUE……………………………………………………………………………………...221
ILLUSTRATIONS…………………………………………………...…………………………227
BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………………………….234

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