avoided inflammatory remarks about Catholicism as a religion. Instead he opposed Catholicism as a dictatorial, anti-republican political system that was dangerous to the United States. He presented evidence that an organization, the St. Leopold Foundation, had been formed to convert immigrants into efficient political agents of the pope. By virtue of their numbers and their blind allegiance to Rome, and because they would eventually be voters Morse concluded that the Irish already had sufficient power to incite mob rule and upset the balance of political power in the United States.
Morse felt it incumbent on himself to alert Americans to this unseen yet mortal threat. He charged that armed Jesuits and Catholic missions were already persuading the poor to interfere in elections. He frantically urged Americans not to
walk on blindly, crying 'all's well.' The enemy is in all our borders. He has spread himself through all the land. . . . Where Popery has put darkness, we must put light. Where popery has planted its crosses, its colleges, its churches, its chapels, its nunneries, Protestant patriotism must put side by side college for college, seminary for seminary, church for church,
in order to "redeem our children from the double bondage of spiritual and temporal slavery, and preserve to them American light and liberty." 30 As those passages indicate, Morse was not shy in Foreign Conspiracy about dressing his evidence in the rhetoric of hysterical nativism.
Seen in the light of Morse's nativist crusades of the late 1830s, the Gallery of the Louvre stands out as the last of his healthy interchanges with Europe. In that picture he had tried heroically to educate, elevate, influence, and protect the nation's developing culture by negotiating a delicate contract with the artistic patrimony of Europe. But few people in America cared about or even noticed his enterprise. Morse could have played it safe. He could have protected himself and his picture from the harsh light of public opinion by circumscribing its exhibition to the National Academy of Design, where he undoubtedly would have received the praise of his colleagues and the cultured patrons of art. But typically Morse wanted to influence the public, wanted his picture and himself to be agents of reform, wanted to test his worth as a person. In retrospect it was an admirable idea. But one he insisted on implementing on his terms, in his own, obscure discourse, and with his own intellectual and aesthetic biases. And so the Louvre invited catastrophe. The exhibition of a picture of European pictures in the Jacksonian America of 1833, in a city driven, in Morse's own words, by "commerce, commerce, commerce," where "boorishness and ill manners are preferred to polish and refinement," was an act both ambitious and foolish, and one that Morse would never repeat. 31