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).

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.