Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Three American Founders on Catholicism

  • Opposed to it:  "I have long been decided in opinion that a free government and the Roman Catholick religion can never exist together in any nation or Country." - John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson dated Feb. 3, 1821, quoted in The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations, edited by James H. Hutson (Princeton Univ. Press: 2005), pg. 41 
  • In favor of it:  "Being persuaded that there can be but one true religion taught by Christ, and that the R[oman] C[atholic] is that religion, I conceive it to be my duty to have my grandchildren brought up in it.  I feel no ill will or illiberal prejudices against sectarians which have abandon[ed] that faith: if their lives be conformable to the duties and morals prescribed by the Gospel, I have the charity to hope and believe they will be rewarded with eternal happiness, though they may entertain erroneous doctrines in point of faith." - Charles Carroll, letter to Harriet Carroll dated Aug. 29, 1816, quoted in The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations, edited by James H. Hutson (Princeton Univ. Press: 2005), pg. 42. 
  • Cautiously favorable toward it:  "I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their revolution and the establishment of their government or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic religion is professed.  And may the members of your Society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity." - George Washington, statement to the Roman Catholics in America, Mar. 1790, quoted in The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations, edited by James H. Hutson (Princeton Univ. Press: 2005), pg. 44.

8 comments:

Phil Johnson said...

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Charles Carroll was one of the richest men in America during the Founding era and he played a major role in financing the war against the English monarchy. Being a Catholic, he was unable to run for office himself.
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It almost looks like that quote from Washington came out of a letter addressed to Carroll.
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Jefferson's quotation stays within that Founders sense about the Wall of Separation which is now under attack again.
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Phil Johnson said...

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So, can anyone speak to Carooll's motives regarding the creation of Amerioa as a soveeign nation? He couldn't be elected to any office; but, still, he financed th war and without his help, the war effort may have failed. He was a fervent Catholic as much as any.
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Mark in Spokane said...

The answer to the Carroll family's support for American Independence is religious liberty. They hoped that an American nation free of the British Crown would be one that would be more open and hospitable to freedom for Roman Catholics. Remember at the time that Catholicism was a tiny religion in the colonies and the new republic. It wasn't until the big immigrant waves of the 1820s and beyond that the numbers of Catholics in the country started to swell. Irish, Germans, Italians, Poles came to this country. And then after the Mexican-American War a number of people who lived in the territory that had formerly been northern Mexico became Americans as well. And those folks were overwhelmingly Catholic. But at the time of the American founding, that was all in the future. Catholicism was just a tiny little Society, to use Washington's word for it, in an overwhelmingly Protestant country.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"Catholic" Maryland had been overrun by Virginia Protestants years before---Carroll's father said it wasn't fit for Catholics to live in anymore. True story.

The Founding's Charles Carroll of Carrollton made a stand. in fact, he may cave "Catholicized" the Founding!


http://catholiceducation.org/articles/politics/pg0003.html

http://christopherblosser.blogspot.com/2009/07/charles-carroll-america-catholic.html

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Interesting comments
@Tom, Maryland was a Catholic province (is that the right term?). And there is a Carroll county and a city called Carollton (sp?)...wonder if there is a connection? (think I'll try to fin out!)

It seems the "revolution" itself would be a fight for "liberty", whether economic or religious! Both were American ideals!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

@ Pinky,
Are you asking the question about Sovereignty about the Founders intent to be a nation without obligation? Would you believe that stands today, even though our nation is entangled strongly in foreign matters? It shouldn't be?

Or, are you asking whether colonization (the President's bias) was enslavement? And that it is the right of those enslaved to "throw off" their colonizers? At what point, dis revolution justified, then?

Phil Johnson said...

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My questions were strictly about Carroll and his interest in financing the Revolutionary War against the English Tryant.
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As a Catholic, he could not run for elective office and could never win if he were able to run--not in those days.
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My questions are about his motivations. I know the English Tryant considered the Roman Catholic Church as an evil force. As a child in a Fundamentalist church in Michigan, I know the pope was considered by many to be the Anti-Christ. The role of pope still is seen as such by many.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

"Charles Carroll of Annapolis granted Carrollton Manor to his son, Charles Carroll of Carrollton. It is from this tract of land that he took his title, “Charles Carroll of Carrollton.”

Like his father, Carroll was a Roman Catholic, and as a consequence was barred by Maryland statute from entering politics, practicing law and voting. This did not prevent him from becoming one of the wealthiest men in Maryland (or indeed anywhere in the Colonies), owning extensive agricultural estates, most notably the large manor at Doughoregan, and providing capital to finance new enterprises on the Western Shore."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Carroll_of_Carrollton