Catholic Intellectuals Split Over the Civil War

“‘This Most Unholy and Destructive War’: Catholic Intellectuals and the Limits of Catholic Patriotism.”  Book Chapter in So Conceived and Dedicated. Fordham University Press (April 2015).

So Conceived and So DedicatedThis book chapter looks at the role of Catholic intellectuals in the Civil War. It discusses how many of them were initially patriotic but how most came to oppose the bloody cost of the war or some of Abraham Lincoln’s sterner measures such as conscription and emancipation. Anticipating the argument of my book, it argues that the war helped contribute to the increasing separation of Catholics from American society in order to preserve their faith and ethnic traditions in the face of Protestant and nativist hostility.

The larger book, dedicated to various groups of Northern intellectuals during the conflict, is meant to expand upon the subjects of George M. Fredrickson’s famous The Inner Civil War (1965). For those also interested in the ethnic motivations of Irish American thinkers at this time, I recommend Dr. Christian Samito’s essay on General Thomas Meagher and Colonel Patrick Guiney also included in the collection. You can read more about the book at Fordham Press University’s website here.

Update: So Conceived and So Dedicated is now available for purchase! You can buy it directly from Fordham University Press or at retailers such as