Topic 5
Up INTRODUCTION TOPIC 1 TOPIC 2 TOPIC 3 TOPIC 4 Topic 5 Topic 6 Topic 7 Topic 8 Topic 9


[FOCUS: Compare Roman Catholic and Jewish adaptations to American life and culture.]

I. Catholics in Protestant America:

BASIC QUESTION: How did America transform the RC Church?

Roman Catholics and Immigration in 19th-Century America

The European Context of 19th-Century Roman Catholicism: The Church Under Siege

Aftermath of the French Revolution, 1815-1848

Liberalism vs. Ultramontanism

The Age of Pope Pius IX [From the Catholic Encyclopedia] or Pius IX [from Wikipedia

The Syllabus of Errors

First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility

Catholics in Colonial and Revolutionary America


American Nativism, 1830-1845

Cycles of Nativism in US History (From the National Immigration Forum)

Catholicism and Republican Values


American Liberty & Anti-Catholic Prejudice

Discussion: You are a fair-minded person of no religious affiliation in the 1880s. Whose argument do you find more persuasive?

Ethnic identity & forging an American Catholic Church

Ethnicity and Identity [Gibbons, Abbelen, Miranda]

Discussion: What do these sources reveal about the problems immigration brought to the RC Church in the USA? If you were an American Catholic from one of the families settled since before the Revolution (like the Carrolls of Maryland) how would you respond to ideas of these three men?

The Americanist Controversy


John Carroll (1735-1815)

Elizabeth Ann Seton  (1774-1821)

John Hughes (1797-1864)

John Hughes and the Public School Issue

"How Dagger John Saved New York's Irish" (By William Stern in Urbanities

Isaac Hecker (1819-1888)

John Ireland (1838-1913)

Michael Corrigan (1839-1900)

James Cardinal Gibbons (1834-1921)

II. Jews in Protestant America

DISCUSSION: Did Judaism or Roman Catholicism adapt more easily to American life?

The American Jewish Experience through the 19th Century: Immigration and Acculturation

The European Context of 19th-Century Judaism

The Legacy of the French Revolution and Jewish Emancipation

Crosscurrents of Tradition, Assimilation, and Reform

The Emergence of Modern Antisemitism

Being Jewish in America

Tension between traditionalism  and innovation

Isaac Leeser (1806-1868)
Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900)
Solomon Schechter (1847-1915)

Development of Jewish Denominationalism [Read Wise and Schechter on Reform and Conservative Judaism. What seem to be the differences between them?]

Reform Judaism

Hebrew Union College

Pittsburgh Platform (1885)

Emergence of Conservative Judaism

Jewish Theological Seminary

Solomon Schechter

American Orthodoxy [and see the entry "Modern Orthodox Judaism. ]

Note on Immigration:  From 1865 to 1914 immigrants poured into the country in amazing numbers.  From 1865 to 1900 13.5 million arrived. After the turn of the century the pace increased  with about 9,000,000 arriving  by 1910. These numbers become truly significant by keeping in mind that in 1865 the nation’s population was about 30,000,000.


Comparative Chronologies


1790, John Carroll becomes 1st Am bishop

Trustee Controversies in the 1st decades of the 19th century

1829, First Provincial Council in Baltimore

1830, New weekly, The Protestant spearheads nativist movement

1834, Convent in Boston burned

1836, Maria Monk Awful Disclosures published

1839, Great School War in NY begins

1840s, Mass influx of Irish and German Catholics

1842, Phil rioters burn 2 Catholic churches; Orestes Brownson becomes a Catholic; NY’s Hughes takes a strong defensive stand

1845, Isaac Hecker becomes Catholic, founder of Paulist Fathers (1858); beginning of Irish Potato Famine

1850s, Conflict between Orestes Brownson and John Hughes

1852, First Plenary Council of Baltimore

1866, Syllabus of Errors issues by Pope

1869, Knights of Labor founded

1870, Vatican Council & Papal Infallibility

1880s, Americanist conflict emerges over ethnic parish structure issue.

1886, James Gibbons, named Cardinal; Bishops Corrigan and McQuaid ask Rome to condemn Knights but Gibbons works for Knights

1887, John Keane and John Ireland write on behalf of right of labor to organize

1889, Catholic University opens; Anton Walburg’s The Queston of Nationality

1890, John Ireland’s address on public schools

1890, Peter Cahensly’s Memorial

1891, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum

1893, World Parliament of Religions at Chicago World’ Columbian Exposition

1895, Pope Leo’s Letter to Am Catholics

1899, Pope Leo’s Testem Benevolentiae condemns Americanism heresy.



Reformed Society organized in Charleston, 1824

1841-57, I.M. Wise and other German reform rabbis arrive

1843, Isaac Leeser in Phil. supports religious conservatism

1857, Wise founds the Israelite in Cincinnati

1857, Wise publishes revised prayer book in Hebrew and German

1869, First Statement of Reform platform issued by Samuel Hirsch & Marcus Jastrow

1873, Wise founds Union of Am Hebrew Congregations; Felix Adler breaks with Reform and founds (1876) Ethical Culture

1875 Hebrew Union College founded

1881, Mass immigration of E. European Jews escaping pogroms

1883, Hebrew Union College graduates first class & conservatives shocked by the dinner menu

1886, Conservatives (Sabato Morais and H. Pereira Mendes, found Jewish Theological Seminary in NY

1889, Central Conference of Am Rabbis (Reform) founded, IM Wise as president

1894, Union Prayer Book (Reform)  published.

1896, First American yeshiva founded

1897, First Zionist Conference in Basel; IM Wise and the CC of Am Rabbis condemn Zionism

1898, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations founded by conservatives and is taken over by East European Orthodox

1900, I.M. Wise dies

1902, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations founded.




Religious Responses to Racism in American Life

Martin Marty (chapter 12) points out 19th century groups excluded from the American dream despite moral reform movements like abolitionism and feminism that developed in antebellum America. He gives only very little attention to women and Asians (especially Chinese) to focus on the two groups that represent America's continuing problem with race, African Americans and Native Americans.

The African-American Experience

After the Civil War African Americans found in  the abolition of slavery a very incomplete emancipation. After Reconstruction in the South a system of legal discrimination and social control - Jim Crow laws -  through segregation and voting restrictions kept the new freemen in poverty and on the periphery of social life. In the North, the antebellum tradition of discrimination and segregation continued. And the growth of a virulent pseudo-scientific racism (from the 1870s through the 1920s and beyond) provided a rationale for the practices of exclusion.

African Americans responded in various ways to these facts of life in the United States. In particular they found in the Black Church an institution that nourished their identity, organized movements for reform, and transmitted their spiritual heritage into the 20th century.

African-American Religion in the 19th Century

Introduction to the Church in the Southern Black Community


The Native American Experience

It is instructive to consider the differences between African-American and Native American experiences.


The brutality of the slave trade uprooted Africans from their lands and transported them to this hemisphere to become part of the life of the United States


Native Americans had to deal for centuries with invasion and occupation of their land.


Africans, while transmitting aspects of their African religious culture, found in Protestant Christianity a way to maintain their identity and fight for their rights to participate more fully in American Life


Native Americans fought a long and debilitating battle to preserve their religious heritage in the face of Christian missionary pressure that was inhospitable to their religious world view.

Native American Religion in Early America 

Summary of Native American Religions

Native American Religious Culture

Native American Spirituality

Native Americans and Christianity

Legend of the Sun Dance

Sun Dance

The Ghost Dance (Imaging and Imagining the Ghost Dance: James Mooney's Illustrations and Photographs, 1891-1893: online exhibition of James Mooney's study of the 1890 Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee, comparing his 78 photographs of the Dance with eight illustrations he later prepared. Illustrates how first-person narratives evolve through one's cultural perspective "with the result that a misleading image of the Ghost Dance has continued to exist and shape our visualization of that ceremonial." From the William Hammond Mathers Museum of Indiana University.)

A Native American Anthology

Discussion questions on Black Elk:

1.       Pick out some passages useful for discussing Native American MYTH and SYMBOLISM

2.       What does  “The Great Vision” chapter reveal about Lakota religious culture?

3.       Pick out a ritual that you think is important for understanding Lakota myth and explain your choice

4.       What are the religious responses of Black Elk and his people to the threat to their community posed by the USA, particularly from General Custer and, later, at Wounded Knee?

5.       What does the chapter on the Messiah and the Ghost Dance suggest about how religions respond to historical challenges to traditions?