A Decade Of Controversies And Sc

During the period from 1835 to 1845 the spirit of schism seemed to be in

the air. In this period no one of the larger organizations of churches

was free from agitating controversies, and some of the most important of

them were rent asunder by explosion.

At the time when the Presbyterian Church suffered its great schism, in

1837, it was the most influential religious body in the United States.

In 120 years
its solitary presbytery had grown to 135 presbyteries,

including 2140 ministers serving 2865 churches and 220,557 communicants.

But these large figures are an inadequate measure of its influence. It

represented in its ministry and membership the two most masterful races

on the continent, the New England colonists and the Scotch-Irish

immigrants; and the tenacity with which it had adhered to the tradition

derived through both these lines, of admitting none but liberally

educated men to its ministry, had given it exceptional social standing

and control over men of intellectual strength and leadership. In the

four years beginning with 1831 the additions to its roll of communicants

on examination had numbered nearly one hundred thousand. But this

spiritual growth was chilled and stunted by the dissensions that arose.

The revivals ceased and the membership actually dwindled.

The contention had grown (a fact not without parallel in church

history) out of measures devised in the interest of coöperation and

union. In 1801, in the days of its comparative feebleness, the General

Assembly had proposed to the General Association of Connecticut a Plan

of Union according to which the communities of New England Christians

then beginning to move westward between the parallels that bound the

New England zone, and bringing with them their accustomed

Congregational polity, might coöperate on terms of mutual concession

with Presbyterian churches in their neighborhood. The proposals had been

fraternally received and accepted, and under the terms of this compact

great accessions had been made to the strength of the Presbyterian

Church, of pastors and congregations marked with the intellectual

activity and religious enterprise of the New England churches, who,

while cordially conforming to the new methods of organization and

discipline, were not in the least penetrated with the traditionary

Scotch veneration for the Westminster standards. For nearly thirty years

the great reinforcements from New England and from men of the New

England way of thinking had been ungrudgingly bestowed and heartily

welcomed. But the great accessions which in the first four years of the

fourth decade of this century had increased the roll of the communicants

of the Presbyterian Church by more than fifty per cent. had come in

undue proportion from the New Englandized regions of western New York

and Ohio. It was inevitable that the jealousy of hereditary

Presbyterians, whose were the fathers, should be aroused by the

perfectly reasonable fear lest the traditional ways of the church which

they felt to be in a peculiar sense their church might be affected by

so large an element from without.

The grounds of explicit complaint against the party called New School

were principally twofold--doctrine and organization.

In the Presbyterian Church at this time were three pretty distinct types

of theological thought. First, there was the unmitigated Scotch

Calvinism; secondly, there was the modification of this system, which

became naturalized in the church after the Great Awakening, when

Jonathan Dickinson and Jonathan Edwards, from neighbor towns in

Massachusetts, came to be looked upon as the great Presbyterian

theologians; thirdly, there was the consistent Calvinism, that had

been still further evolved by the patient labor of students in direct

succession from Edwards, and that was known under the name of

Hopkinsianism. Just now the latest and not the least eminent in this

school, Dr. Nathaniel W. Taylor, of New Haven, was enunciating to large

and enthusiastic classes in Yale Divinity School new definitions and

forms of statement giving rise to much earnest debate. The alarm of

those to whom the very phrase improvement in theology was an

abomination expressed itself in futile indictments for heresy brought

against some of the most eminently godly and useful ministers in all the

church. Lyman Beecher, of Lane Seminary, Edward Beecher, J. M.

Sturtevant, and William Kirby, of Illinois College, and George Duffield,

of the presbytery of Carlisle, Pa., were annoyed by impeachments for

heresy, which all failed before reaching the court of last resort. But

repeated and persistent prosecutions of Albert Barnes, of Philadelphia,

were destined to more conspicuous failure, by reason of their coming up

year after year before the General Assembly, and also by reason of the

position of the accused as pastor of the mother church of the

denomination, the First Church of Philadelphia, which was the customary

meeting-place of the Assembly; withal by reason of the character of the

accused, the honor and love in which he was held for his faithful and

useful work as pastor, his world-wide fame as a devoted and believing

student of the Scriptures, and the Christlike gentleness and meekness

with which he endured the harassing of church trials continuing through

a period of seven years, and compelling him, under an irregular and

illegal sentence of the synod, to sit silent in his church for the space

of a year, as one suspended from the ministry.

The earliest leaders in national organization for the propagation of

Christianity at home and abroad were the Congregationalists of New

England and men like-minded with them. But the societies thus originated

were organized on broad and catholic principles, and invited the

coöperation of all Christians. They naturally became the organs of much

of the active beneficence of Presbyterian congregations, and the

Presbyterian clergy and laity were largely represented in the direction

of them. They were recognized and commended by the representative bodies

of the Presbyterian Church. As a point of high-church theory it was held

by the rigidly Presbyterian party that the work of the gospel in all its

departments and in all lands is the proper function of the church as

such--meaning practically that each sect ought to have its separate

propaganda. There was logical strength in this position as reached from

their premisses, and there were arguments of practical convenience to be

urged in favor of it. But the demand to sunder at once the bonds of

fellowship which united Christians of different names in the beneficent

work of the great national societies was not acceptable even to the

whole of the Old-School party. To the New Englanders it was intolerable.

There were other and less important grounds of difference that were

discussed between the parties. And in the background, behind them all,

was the slavery question. It seems to have been willingly kept in the

background by the leaders of debate on both sides; but it was there. The

New-School synods and presbyteries of the North were firm in their

adherence to the antislavery principles of the church. On the other

hand, the Old-School party relied, in the coup d'église that was in

preparation, on the support of an almost solid South.[296:1]

It was an unpardonable offense of the New-School party that it had grown

to such formidable strength, intellectually, spiritually, and

numerically. The probability that the church might, with the continued

growth and influence of this party, become Americanized and so lose the

purity of its thoroughgoing Scotch traditions was very real, and to some

minds very dreadful. To these the very ark of God seemed in danger.

Arraignments for heresy in presbytery and synod resulted in failure; and

when these and other cases involving questions of orthodoxy or of the

policy of the church were brought into the supreme judicature of the

church, the solemn but unmistakable fact disclosed itself that even the

General Assembly could not be relied on for the support of measures

introduced by the Old-School leaders. In fact, every Assembly from 1831

to 1836, with a single exception, had shown a clear New-School majority.

The foundations were destroyed, and what should the righteous do?

History was about to repeat itself with unwonted preciseness of detail.

On the gathering of the Assembly of 1837 a careful count of noses

revealed what had been known only once before in seven years, and what

might never be again--a clear Old-School majority in the house. To the

pious mind the neglecting of such an opportunity would have been to

tempt Providence. Without notice, without complaint or charges or

specifications, without opportunity of defense, 4 synods, including 533

churches and more than 100,000 communicants, were excommunicated by a

majority vote. The victory of pure doctrine and strict church order,

though perhaps not exactly glorious, was triumphant and irreversible.

There was no more danger to the church from a possible New-School


When the four exscinded synods, three in western New York and one in

Ohio, together with a great following of sympathizing congregations in

all parts of the country, came together to reconstruct their shattered

polity, they were found to number about four ninths of the late

Presbyterian Church. For thirty years the American church was to present

to Christendom the strange spectacle of two great ecclesiastical bodies

claiming identically the same name, holding the same doctrinal

standards, observing the same ritual and governed by the same

discipline, and occupying the same great territory, and yet completely

dissevered from each other and at times in relations of sharp mutual


The theological debate which had split the Presbyterian Church from end

to end was quite as earnest and copious in New England. But owing to the

freer habit of theological inquiry and the looser texture of

organization among the Congregationalist churches, it made no organic

schism beyond the setting up of a new theological seminary in

Connecticut to offset what were deemed the dangerous tendencies of the

New Haven theology. After a few years the party lines had faded out and

the two seminaries were good neighbors.

The unlikeliest place in all American Christendom for a partisan

controversy and a schism would have seemed to be the Unitarian

denomination in and about Boston. Beginning with the refusal not only of

any imposed standard of belief, but of any statement of common opinions,

and with unlimited freedom of opinion in every direction, unless,

perhaps, in the direction of orthodoxy, it was not easy to see how a

splitting wedge could be started in it. But the infection of the time

was not to be resisted. Even Unitarianism must have its heresies and

heresiarchs to deal with. No sooner did the pressure of outside attack

abate than antagonisms began pretty sharply to declare themselves. In

1832 Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, pastor of the Second Church in Boston,

proposed to the church to abandon or radically change the observance of

the Lord's Supper. When the church demurred at this extraordinary demand

he resigned his office, firing off an elaborate argument against the

usage of the church by way of a parting salute. Without any formal

demission of the ministry, he retired to his literary seclusion at

Concord, from which he brought forth in books and lectures the oracular

utterances which caught more and more the ear of a wide public, and in

which, in casual-seeming parentheses and obiter dicta, Christianity

and all practical religion were condemned by sly innuendo and

half-respectful allusion by which he might without sneering teach the

rest to sneer. In 1838 he was still so far recognized in the ministry

as to be invited to address the graduating class of the Harvard Divinity

School. The blank pantheism which he then enunciated called forth from

Professor Henry Ware, Jr., a sermon in the college chapel on the

personality of God, which he sent with a friendly note to Mr. Emerson.

The gay and Skimpolesque reply of the sage is an illustration of that

flippancy with which he chose to toy in a literary way with momentous

questions, and which was so exasperating to the earnest men of positive

religious convictions with whom he had been associated in the Christian


It strikes me very oddly that good and wise men at Cambridge

should think of raising me into an object of criticism. I have

always been, from my incapacity of methodical writing, 'a

chartered libertine,' free to worship and free to rail, lucky

when I could make myself understood, but never esteemed near

enough to the institutions and mind of society to deserve the

notice of masters of literature and religion.... I could not

possibly give you one of the 'arguments' you so cruelly hint

at on which any doctrine of mine stands, for I do not know

what arguments mean in reference to any expression of thought.

I delight in telling what I think, but if you ask me how I

dare say so, or why it is so, I am the most helpless of mortal

men. I do not even see that either of these questions admits

of an answer. So that in the present droll posture of my

affairs, when I see myself suddenly raised into the importance

of a heretic, I am very uneasy when I advert to the supposed

duties of such a personage who is to make good his thesis

against all comers. I certainly shall do no such thing.

The issue was joined and the controversy began. Professor Andrews Norton

in a pamphlet denounced the latest form of infidelity, and the Rev.

George Ripley replied in a volume, to which Professor Norton issued a

rejoinder. But there was not substance enough of religious dogma and

sentiment in the transcendentalist philosophers to give them any

permanent standing in the church. They went into various walks of

secular literature, and have powerfully influenced the course of

opinions; but they came to be no longer recognizable as a religious or

theological party.

Among the minor combatants in the conflict between the Unitarians and

the pantheists was a young man whose name was destined to become

conspicuous, not within the Unitarian fellowship, but on the outskirts

of it. Theodore Parker was a man of a different type from the men about

him of either party. The son of a mechanic, he fought his way through

difficulties to a liberal education, and was thirty years old before his

very great abilities attracted general attention. A greedy gormandizer

of books in many languages, he had little of the dainty scholarship so

much prized at the neighboring university. But the results of his vast

reading were stored in a quick and tenacious memory as ready rhetorical

material wherewith to convince or astonish. Paradox was a passion with

him, that was stimulated by complaints, and even by deprecations, to the

point of irreverence. He liked to make people's flesh crawl. Even in

his advocacy of social and public reforms, which was strenuous and

sincere, he delighted so to urge his cause as to inflame prejudice and

opposition against it. With this temper it is not strange that when he

came to enunciate his departure from some of the accepted tenets of his

brethren, who were habitually reverent in their discipleship toward

Jesus Christ, he should do this in a way to offend and shock. The

immediate reaction of the Unitarian clergy from the statements of his

sermon, in 1841, on The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity,

in which the supernatural was boldly discarded from his belief, was so

general and so earnest as to give occasion to Channing's exclamation,

Now we have a Unitarian orthodoxy! Channing did not live to see the

characteristic tenets of the heresiarch to whom he hesitated to give the

name of Christian not only widely accepted in the Unitarian churches,

but some of them freely discussed as open questions among some orthodox


* * * * *

Two very great events in this period of schism may be dispatched with a

brevity out of all proportion to their importance, on account of the

simplicity of motive and action by which they are characterized.

In the year 1844 the slavery agitation in the Methodist Episcopal Church

culminated, not in the rupture of the church, but in the

well-considered, deliberate division of it between North and South. The

history of the slavery question among the Methodists was a typical one.

From the beginning the Methodist Society had been committed by its

founder and his early successors to the strictest (not the strongest)

position on this question. Not only was the system of slavery denounced

as iniquitous, but the attempt was made to enforce the rigid rule that

persons involved under this system in the relation of master to slave

should be excluded from the ministry, if not from the communion. But the

enforcement of this rule was found to be not only difficult, but wrong,

and difficult simply because it was wrong. Then followed that illogical

confusion of ideas studiously fostered by zealots at either extreme: If

the slave-holder may be in some circumstances a faithful Christian

disciple, fulfilling in righteousness and love a Christian duty, then

slavery is right; if slavery is wrong, then every slave-holder is a

manstealer, and should be excommunicated as such without asking any

further questions. Two statements more palpably illogical were never put

forth for the darkening of counsel. But each extreme was eager to

sustain the unreason of the opposite extreme as the only alternative of

its own unreason, and so, what with contrary gusts from North and South,

they fell into a place where two seas met and ran the ship aground. The

attempts made from 1836 to 1840, by stretching to the utmost the

authority of the General Conference and the bishops, for the suppression

of modern abolitionism in the church (without saying what they meant

by the phrase) had their natural effect: the antislavery sentiment in

the church organized and uttered itself more vigorously and more

extravagantly than ever on the basis, All slave-holding is sin; no

fellowship with slave-holders. In 1843 an antislavery secession took

place, which drew after it a following of six thousand, increased in a

few months to fifteen thousand. The paradoxical result of this movement

is not without many parallels in church history: After the drawing off

of fifteen thousand of the most zealous antislavery men in the church,

the antislavery party in the church was vastly stronger, even in

numbers, than it had been before. The General Conference of 1836 had

pronounced itself, without a dissenting vote, to be decidedly opposed

to modern abolitionism. The General Conference of 1844, on the first

test vote on the question of excluding from the ministry one who had

become a slave-holder through marriage, revealed a majority of one

hundred and seventeen to fifty-six in favor of the most rigorous

antislavery discipline. The graver question upon the case of Bishop

Andrew, who was in the like condemnation, could not be decided

otherwise. The form of the Conference's action in this case was

studiously inoffensive. It imputed no wrong and proposed no censure,

but, simply on the ground that the circumstances would embarrass him in

the exercise of his office, declared it as the sense of this General

Conference that he desist from the exercise of this office so long as

this impediment remains. The issue could not have been simpler and

clearer. The Conference was warned that the passage of the resolution

would be followed by the secession of the South. The debate was long,

earnest, and tender. At the end of it the resolution was passed, one

hundred and eleven to sixty-nine. At once notice was given of the

intended secession. Commissioners were appointed from both parties to

adjust the conditions of it, and in the next year (1845) was organized

the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Under the fierce tyranny then dominant at the South the southern

Baptists might not fall behind their Methodist neighbors in zeal for

slavery. This time it was the South that forced the issue. The Alabama

Baptist Convention, without waiting for a concrete case, demanded of the

national missionary boards the distinct, explicit avowal that

slave-holders are eligible and entitled equally with non-slave-holders

to all the privileges and immunities of their several unions. The

answer of the Foreign Mission Board was perfectly kind, but, on the main

point, perfectly unequivocal: We can never be a party to any

arrangement which would imply approbation of slavery. The result had

been foreseen. The great denomination was divided between North and

South. The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in May, 1845, and

began its home and foreign missionary work without delay.

This dark chapter of our story is not without its brighter aspects. (1)

Amid the inevitable asperities attendant on such debate and division

there were many and beautiful manifestations of brotherly love between

the separated parties. (2) These strifes fell out to the furtherance of

the gospel. Emulations, indeed, are not among the works of the Spirit.

In the strenuous labors of the two divided denominations, greatly

exceeding what had gone before, it is plain that sometimes Christ was

preached of envy and strife. Nevertheless Christ was preached, with

great and salutary results; and therein do we rejoice, yea, and will


* * * * *

Two important orders in the American church, which for a time had almost

faded out from our field of vision, come back, from about this epoch of

debate and division, into continually growing conspicuousness and

strength. Neither of them was implicated in that great debate involving

the fundamental principles of the kingdom of heaven,--the principles of

righteousness and love to men,--by which other parts of the church had

been agitated and sometimes divided. Whether to their discredit or to

their honor, it is part of history that neither the Protestant Episcopal

Church nor the Roman Catholic Church took any important part, either

corporately or through its representative men, in the agonizing struggle

of the American church to maintain justice and humanity in public law

and policy. But standing thus aloof from the great ethical questions

that agitated the conscience of the nation, they were both of them

disturbed by controversies internal or external, which demand mention at

least in this chapter.

The beginning of the resuscitation of the Protestant Episcopal Church

from the dead-and-alive condition in which it had so long been

languishing is dated from the year 1811.[304:1] This year was marked by

the accession to the episcopate of two eminent men, representing two

strongly divergent parties in that church--Bishop Griswold, of

Massachusetts, Evangelical, and Bishop Hobart, of New York,

High-churchman. A quorum of three bishops having been gotten together,

not without great difficulty, the two were consecrated in Trinity

Church, New York, May 29, 1811.

The time was opportune and the conjuncture of circumstances singularly

favorable. The stigma of Toryism, which had marked the church from long

before the War of Independence, was now more than erased. In New England

the Episcopal Church was of necessity committed to that political party

which favored the abolition of the privileges of the standing order; and

this was the anti-English party, which, under the lead of Jefferson, was

fast forcing the country into war with England. The Episcopalians were

now in a position to retort the charge of disloyalty under which they

had not unjustly suffered. At the same time their church lost nothing of

the social prestige incidental to its relation to the established Church

of England. Politicians of the Democratic party, including some men of

well-deserved credit and influence, naturally attached themselves to a

religious party having many points of congeniality.[305:1]

In another sense, also, the time was opportune for an advance of the

Episcopal Church. In the person of Bishop Hobart it had now a bold,

energetic, and able representative of principles hitherto not much in

favor in America--the thoroughgoing High-church principles of Archbishop

Laud. Before this time the Episcopal Church had had very little to

contribute by way of enriching the diversity of the American sects. It

was simply the feeblest of the communions bearing the common family

traits of the Great Awakening, with the not unimportant differentia of

its settled ritual of worship and its traditions of order and decorum.

But when Bishop Hobart put the trumpet to his lips and prepared himself

to sound, the public heard a very different note, and no uncertain one.

The church (meaning his own fragment of the church) the one channel of

saving grace; the vehicles of that grace, the sacraments, valid only

when ministered by a priesthood with the right pedigree of ordination;

submission to the constituted authorities of the church absolutely

unlimited, except by clear divine requirements; abstinence from

prayer-meetings; firm opposition to revivals of religion; refusal of all

coöperation with Christians outside of his own sect in endeavors for the

general advancement of religion--such were some of the principles and

duties inculcated by this bishop of the new era as of binding

force.[306:1] The courage of this attitude was splendid and captivating.

It requires, even at the present time, not a little force of conviction

to sustain one in publicly enunciating such views; but at the time of

the accession of Hobart, when the Episcopal Church was just beginning to

lift up its head out of the dust of despair, it needed the heroism of a

martyr. It was not only the vast multitude of American Christians

outside of the Episcopal Church, comprising almost all the learning, the

evangelistic zeal, and the charitable activity and self-denial of the

American church of that time, that heard these unwonted pretensions with

indignation or with ridicule; in the Episcopal Church itself they were

disclaimed, scouted, and denounced with (if possible) greater

indignation still. But the new party had elements of growth for which

its adversaries did not sufficiently reckon. The experience of other

orders in the church confirms this principle: that steady persistence

and iteration in assuring any body of believers that they are in some

special sense the favorites of Heaven, and in assuring any body of

clergy that they are endued from on high with some special and

exceptional powers, will by and by make an impression on the mind. The

flattering assurance may be coyly waived aside; it may even be

indignantly repelled; but in the long run there will be a growing number

of the brethren who become convinced that there is something in it. It

was in harmony with human nature that the party of high pretensions to

distinguished privileges for the church and prerogatives for the

priesthood should in a few years become a formidable contestant for

the control of the denomination. The controversy between the two parties

rose to its height of exacerbation during the prevalence of that strange

epidemic of controversy which ran simultaneously through so many of the

great religious organizations of the country at once. No denomination

had it in a more malignant form than the Episcopalians. The war of

pamphlets and newspapers was fiercely waged, and the election of bishops

sometimes became a bitter party contest, with the unpleasant incidents

of such competitions. In the midst of the controversy at home the

publication of the Oxford Tracts added new asperity to it. A distressing

episode of the controversy was the arraignment of no less than four of

the twenty bishops on charges affecting their personal character. In the

morbid condition of the body ecclesiastic every such hurt festered. The

highest febrile temperature was reached when, at an ordination in 1843,

two of the leading presbyters in the diocese of New York rose in their

places, and, reading each one his solemn protest against the ordaining

of one of the candidates on the ground of his Romanizing opinions, left

the church.

The result of the long conflict was not immediately apparent. It was not

only that high opinions, even the highest of the Tractarian school,

were to be tolerated within the church, but that the High-church party

was to be the dominant party. The Episcopal Church was to stand before

the public as representing, not that which it held in common with the

other churches of the country, but that which was most distinctive. From

this time forth the Evangelical party continued relatively to decline,

down to the time, thirty years later, when it was represented in the

inconsiderable secession of the Reformed Episcopal Church. The

combination of circumstances and influences by which this party

supremacy was brought about is an interesting study, for which, however,

there is no room in this brief compendium of history.

A more important fact is this: that in spite of these agitating internal

strifes, and even by reason of them, the growth of the denomination was

wonderfully rapid and strong. No fact in the external history of the

American church at this period is more imposing than this growth of the

Episcopal Church from nothing to a really commanding stature. It is easy

to enumerate minor influences tending to this result, some of which are

not of high spiritual dignity; but these must not be overestimated. The

nature of this growth, as well as the numerical amount of it, requires

to be considered. This strongly distinguished order in the American

church has been aggrandized, not, to any great degree, by immigration,

nor by conquest from the ranks of the irreligious, but by a continual

stream of accessions both to its laity and to its clergy from other

sects of the church. These accessions have of course been variable in

quality, but they have included many such as no denomination could

afford to lose, and such as any would be proud to receive. Without

judging of individual cases, it is natural and reasonable to explain so

considerable a current setting so steadily for two generations toward

the Episcopal Church as being attracted by the distinctive

characteristics of that church. Foremost among these we may reckon the

study of the dignity and beauty of public worship, and the tradition and

use of forms of devotion of singular excellence and value. A tendency to

revert to the ancient Calvinist doctrine of the sacraments has

prepossessed some in favor of that sect in which the old Calvinism is

still cherished. Some have rejoiced to find a door of access to the

communion of the church not beset with revivalist exactions of

examination and scrutiny of the sacred interior experiences of the soul.

Some have reacted from an excessive or inquisitive or arbitrary church

discipline, toward a default of discipline. Some, worthily weary of

sectarian division and of the evangelical doctrine that schism is the

normal condition of the church of Christ, have found real comfort in

taking refuge in a sect in which, closing their eyes, they can say,

There are no schisms in the church; the church is one and undivided,

and we are it. These and other like considerations, mingled in varying

proportions, have been honorable motives impelling toward the Episcopal

denomination; and few that have felt the force of them have felt

constrained stubbornly to resist the gentle assurances offered by the

apostolic succession theory of a superior authority and prerogative

with which they had become invested. The numerous accessions to the

Episcopal Church from other communions have, of course, been in large

part reinforcements to the already dominant party.

In the Roman Catholic Church of the United States, during this stormy

period, there was by no means a perfect calm. The ineradicable feeling

of the American citizen--however recent his naturalization--that he has

a right to do what he will with his own, had kept asserting itself in

that plausible but untenable claim of the laity to manage the church

property acquired by their own contributions, which is known to Catholic

writers as trusteeism. Through the whole breadth of the country, from

Buffalo to New Orleans, sharp conflicts over this question between

clergy and laity had continued to vex the peace of the church, and the

victory of the clergy had not been unvarying and complete. When, in

1837, Bishop John Hughes took the reins of spiritual power in New York,

he resolved to try conclusions with the trustees who attempted to

overrule his authority in his own cathedral. Sharply threatening to put

the church under interdict, if necessary, he brought the recalcitrants

to terms at last by a less formidable process. He appealed to the

congregation to withhold all further contributions from the trustees.

The appeal, for conscience' sake, to refrain from giving has always a

double hope of success. And the bishop succeeded in ousting the

trustees, at the serious risk of teaching the people a trick which has

since been found equally effective when applied on the opposite side of

a dispute between clergyman and congregation. In Philadelphia the long

struggle was not ended without the actual interdicting of the cathedral

of St. Mary's, April, 1831. In Buffalo, so late as 1847, even this

extreme measure, applied to the largest congregation in the newly

erected diocese, did not at once enforce submission.

The conflict with trusteeism was only one out of many conflicts which

gave abundant exercise to the administrative abilities of the American

bishops. The mutual jealousies of the various nationalities and races

among the laity, and of the various sects of the regular clergy,

menaced, and have not wholly ceased to menace, the harmony of the

church, if not its unity.

One disturbing element by which the Roman Catholic Church in some

European countries has been sorely vexed makes no considerable figure in

the corresponding history in America. There has never been here any

Liberal Catholic party. The fact stands in analogy with many like

facts. Visitors to America from the established churches of England or

Scotland or Germany have often been surprised to find the temper of the

old-country church so much broader and less rigid than that of the

daughter church in the new and free republic. The reason is less

recondite than might be supposed. In the old countries there are

retained in connection with the state-church, by constraint of law or of

powerful social or family influences, many whose adhesion to its

distinctive tenets and rules is slight and superficial. It is out of

such material that the liberal church party grows. In the migration it

is not that the liberal churchman becomes more strict, but that, being

released from outside pressure, he becomes less of a churchman. He

easily draws off from his hereditary communion and joins himself to some

other, or to none at all. This process of evaporation leaves behind it a

strong residuum in which all characteristic elements are held as in a

saturated solution.

A further security of the American Catholic Church against the growth of

any Liberal Catholic party like those of continental Europe is the

absolutist organization of the hierarchy under the personal government

of the pope. In these last few centuries great progress has been made by

the Roman see in extinguishing the ancient traditions of local or

national independence in the election of bishops. Nevertheless in

Catholic Europe important relics of this independence give an effective

check to the absolute power of Rome. In America no trace of this

historic independence has ever existed. The power of appointing and

removing bishops is held absolutely and exclusively by the pope and

exercised through the Congregation of the Propaganda. The power of

ordaining and assigning priests is held by the bishop, who also holds or

controls the title to the church property in his diocese. The security

against partisan division within the church is as complete as it can be

made without gravely increasing the risks of alienating additional

multitudes from the fellowship of the church.[312:1]

* * * * *

During the whole of this dreary decade there were fightings without as

well as within for the Catholic Church in the United States. Its great

and sudden growth solely by immigration had made it distinctively a

church of foreigners, and chiefly of Irishmen. The conditions were

favorable for the development of a race prejudice aggravated by a

religious antipathy. It was a good time for the impostor, the fanatic,

and the demagogue to get in their work. In Boston, in 1834, the report

that a woman was detained against her will in the Ursuline convent at

Charlestown, near Boston, led to the burning of the building by a

drunken mob. The Titus Oates of the American no-popery panic, in 1836,

was an infamous woman named Maria Monk, whose monstrous stories of

secret horrors perpetrated in a convent in Montreal, in which she

claimed to have lived as a nun, were published by a respectable house

and had immense currency. A New York pastor of good standing, Dr.

Brownlee, made himself sponsor for her character and her stories; and

when these had been thoroughly exposed, by Protestant ministers and

laymen, for the shameless frauds that they were, there were plenty of

zealots to sustain her still. A Protestant Society was organized in

New York, and solicited the contributions of the benevolent and pious to

promote the dissemination of raw-head-and-bloody-bones literature on the

horrors of popery. The enterprise met with reprobation from sober-minded

Protestants, but it was not without its influence for mischief. The

presence of a great foreign vote, easily manipulated and cast in block,

was proving a copious source of political corruption. Large concessions

of privilege or of public property to Catholic institutions were

reasonably suspected to have been made in consideration of clerical

services in partisan politics.[313:1] The conditions provoked, we might

say necessitated, a political reform movement, which took the name and

character of Native American. In Philadelphia, a city notorious at

that time for misgovernment and turbulence, an orderly American

meeting was attacked and broken up by an Irish mob. One act of violence

led to another, the excitement increasing from day to day; deadly shots

were exchanged in the streets, houses from which balls had been fired

into the crowd were set in flames, which spread to other houses,

churches were burned, and the whole city dominated by mobs that were

finally suppressed by the State militia. It was an appropriate climax

to the ten years of ecclesiastical and social turmoil.[314:1]