Dialogue on the Frontier: Catholic and Protestant Relations 1793-1883

By Hussey, M. Edmund | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Dialogue on the Frontier: Catholic and Protestant Relations 1793-1883


Hussey, M. Edmund, The Catholic Historical Review


Dialogue on the Frontier: Catholic and Protestant Relations 1793-1883. By Margaret C. DePalma. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. 2004. Pp. xvi, 220. $55.00.)

The Kent State University Press, following its superb tradition of publishing significant works on various aspects of Ohio history, has recently issued Margaret DePalma's doctoral dissertation on Catholic and Protestant relations in Ohio. DePalma places the frontier of the United States in Kentucky and Ohio, where it certainly was located at the beginning of the period covered in this study.

The first and introductory chapter focuses on the tenure of John Carroll as the first bishop of Baltimore and gives a good sense of the strength of antiCatholicism in the United States. Since DePalma does not offer a rationale for this virulent anti-Catholicism, she seems to imply that it was simply ignorant and irrational bigotry. It might have been helpful to note that its roots go back to 1570, when Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I of England and attempted to depose her by releasing all of her subjects from obedience to her. Since Pius V had, in effect, decreed that it was no longer possible to be a faithful subject both of the queen and of the pope, every Roman Catholic in England was ipso facto suspected of treasonable tendencies. That suspicion was exported to the English colonies in America and became an enduring ingredient of American life.

The second chapter focuses on the twenty-six years which Stephen Theodore Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, spent as a missionary in Kentucky. Badin 's generally courteous contacts with Protestants are detailed. In fact, the curmudgeonly and somewhat Jansenistic priest often seemed to get along with Protestants better than he did with the Catholic laity. In a letter to John Carroll about the help he had received from some Protestants toward building a church, he said: "If all the Catholics are not my friends, I am amply compensated by the friendship of many non-Catholics of respectability. …

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