Recently, I read A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis. It dealt with US History in the first half century of the new Republic.
I highly recommend this book. If you found your history in school to be boring and lifeless, then you need this book to see how history can be exciting and vibrant.
I would like to focus on the sad history of the fear and hate which arose against immigrants. In the 1840s when over a million Irish came to this country, there was a strong force of opposition to the Irish and other people.
Why? There was a strong Anti-Catholic fervor raised by people who saw the Church of Rome as the harlot of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. The Protestant Reformation or Revolution depending on one’s viewpoint and persuasion demonized the Roman Church using what they considered an apt description in Revelation 17.
One of the leading voices in these dire warnings about the insidious infiltration of American communities, schools and government was Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the inventor of the telegraph and the Morse code. Using the pseudonym “Brutus”,
“While teaching fine arts at New York University, Morse began to publish his attacks on Catholicism in the New York Observer, a religious newsweekly run by his brother, Richard. In a series of twelve articles, Morse cataloged the abuses of Catholicism and Catholic immigrants and issued dire warnings about the fate of America. These articles were later collected and published in 1835 as a book, The Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States.
“Warning of cells of Jesuit priests who were undermining American education and luring American children into Catholic schools, Morse cautioned his readers:
“I exposed in my last chapter the remarkable coincidence of the tenets of Popery with the principles of despotic government, in this respect so opposite to the tenets of Protestantism; Popery, from its very nature, favoring despotism, and Protestantism, from its very nature, favoring liberty. Is it not then perfectly natural that the Austrian government should be active in supporting Catholic missions in this country? Is it not clear that the cause of Popery is the cause of despotism?” A Nation Rising, page 204
Another person of anti-Catholic interest was Canadian Maria Monk and her sensational book of 1836.
“The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During a Residence of Five Years as a Novice and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in Montreal was first published in January 1836. Its coming was much anticipated, having been announced some months prior in the nativist newspaper, the American Protestant Vindicator. The book was written by a former nun who had escaped from the Hotel Dieu nunnery in Montreal. It promised to expose the iniquity of the Catholic convent system. The book was as sensational as it promised to be, and immediately became a rallying point for the nativist movement. According to the Protestant Vindicator, by the end of July, 1836 it had already sold over 26,000 copies. By the start of the Civil War, it would have sold 300,000 copies. It was reprinted, under varying titles by various publishing houses, at least half a dozen times just in 1836, and continued to be reprinted well into the twentieth century. A second work, Further Disclosures of Maria Monk, sold well also, and was reprinted several times, along with various other works refuting or supporting her claims. Quite an industry was born out of Maria Monk’s story.” https://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister/hughes.html
The mid-1800s saw it all: mass immigration, fake news, violence, riots, burning of places of worship, and the fever of the soon coming Parousia (Second Coming of Christ). The “chosen people” (not Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or black) saw the signs of the times and knew that the end of the age was at hand because the Church of Rome was pushing against the weakening door of Protestant America.
The stars may have fallen, the earth may have shaken and darkness may have covered the landscape, but the charismatic preaching and numerous tracts eventually left people disappointed and despondent when time just rolled on from month to year to decade. Unfortunately, what did not dissipate was fear and hate toward immigrants because of their religious affiliation; many believed then and to a certain degree even today that their religious orientation was antithetical to the United States of America.
Today there are pockets of Protestants who preach and sing the same songs of old about the Church of Rome. To them the greatest security threat to this country is the Pope and his Jesuits, the unholy marauders of all that is holy and true about the Republic and its Protestant underpinnings.
I recently saw a dialogue on social media where the dreaded Jesuits were accused of causing havoc and discord within one particular sectarian Protestant religious community who came out of the mid-1800s with an apocalyptical vision of being the rightful heirs of Martin Luther and John Calvin. No proof was given for this Jesuit plot, just hearsay and rumors.
Turning to a more serious problem of today, it seems that Muslim immigrants or American-born Muslims seem to be a threat to many. The same vitriolic rhetoric used against immigrants of the 1800s can be read and heard today even from pulpits.
Fear and hate are primordial elements which bubble to the surface in every generation. One would think that these elements should have been laid to rest, but rest is not to be found because the bogs of prejudice and hate are always producing their miasma to contaminate their environs.
One last comment about the thousands from south of the border who are pressing to find a land of opportunity for themselves as well as their families; they should not be viewed as the dregs of the human race. This is especially true of their children who are the innocents on this planet traversing the cosmos.
Immigration policies and laws are essential to the security of a nation. However, humane treatment of and passion for people seeking a better life should be an essential part of how people are treated, regardless of where they came from, because if one is standing at the gate, the gate needs to be a gate, not a weapon.
G. D. Williams © 2018
A Nation Rising by Kenneth Davis
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872)
Samuel Morse Fears a Catholic Conspiracy 1835
Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States
Maria Monk (June 27, 1816 – September 4, 1849)
The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk
The Society of Jesus
The Arrival of the Irish: An Immigrant Story
This diverse and misunderstood immigrant group began coming over from Ireland in significant numbers starting in the Colonial era, mostly as indentured servants. In the early 19th century, these Irish arrivals, both Protestants and Catholics, were already consolidating — via organizations like the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and in places like St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
But starting in the 1830s, with a terrible blight wiping out Ireland’s potato crops, a mass wave of Irish immigration would dwarf all that came before, hundreds of thousands of weary, sometimes desperate newcomers who entered New York to live in its most squalid neighborhoods.