American Catholics in the Two Great Mid-19th Century Wars

“Let us hear no more ‘nativism’: The Catholic Press in the Mexican and Civil Wars.” Civil War History (March 2014).

Nebel_Mexican_War_12_Scott_in_Mexico_City
Scott’s Army in Mexico City with the city’s Catholic cathedral prominent in the background (Wikipedia).

This article was based on a seminar paper I wrote for Gary Gallagher during my graduate career at UVA. It tried to look at the Mexican and Civil Wars in a comparative way with a twist: instead of looking at them from a military point of view, it looked at them from a religious one.

It argued that the Mexican War as a dress rehearsal for Catholics hoping to use their service in a military conflict to prove their loyalty to the United States. However, their patriotism was not completely convincing in either war and both wars were followed by an anti-Catholic backlash. This is an argument I develop even more fully in my upcoming book from Fordham Press.