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had very little to contribute by way of enriching the di-
versity 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 chan-
nel of saving grace ; the vehicles of that grace, the sacra-
ments, valid only when ministered by a priesthood with
the right pedigree of ordination ; submission to the con-
stituted authorities of the church absolutely unlimited,
except by clear divine requirements ; abstinence from
prayer-meetings ; firm opposition to revivals of religion ;
refusal of all cooperation with Christians outside of his
own sect in endeavors for the general advancement of re-
ligion — such were some of the principles and duties
inculcated by this bishop of the new era as of binding
force. ^ The courage of this attitude was splendid and
captivating. It require's, even at the present time, not a
little force of conviction to sustain one in publicly enunci-
ating such views ; but at the time of the accession of
Hobart, when the Episcopal Church was just beginning to
Hft 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 Ameri-
can church of that time, that heard these unwonted pre-
tensions with indignation or with ridicule ; in the Episcopal
Church itself they were disclaimed, scouted, and denounced

1 Hobart's sermon at the consecration of Right Rev. H. U. Onderdonk,
Philadelphia, 1827.


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 in-
dignantly 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 dis-
tinguished privileges for the church and prerogatives for
the " priesthood " should in a few years become a formi-
dable 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 epi-
demic of controversy which ran simultaneously through
so many of the great religious organizations of the coun-
try at once. No denomination had it in a more malignant
form than the Episcopalians. The war of pamphlets and
newspapers was fierce!}' waged, and the election of bish-
ops 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 ecclesias-
tic every such hurt festered. The highest febrile temper-
ature 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 liighest 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 repre-
sented 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 command-
ing 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 distin-
guished order in the American church has been aggran-
dized, not, to any great degree, by immigration, nor by
conquest from the ranks of the irreligious, but by a con-
tinual 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 gen-
erations 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 re-
joiced 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 denom-
ination ; and few that have felt the force of them have felt
constrained stubbornly to resist the gentle assurances
ofTered 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 per-
fect calm. The ineradicable feeling of the American citi-
zen — 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 contri-
butions, which is known to Catholic writers as " trustee-
ism." Through the whole breadth of the country, from
Buflfalo 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 al-
ways 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 eflfective
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, 183 1. 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 administra-
tive abilities of the American bishops. The mutual jeal-
ousies of the various nationalities and races among the


laity, and of the various sects of the regular clergy, men-
aced, 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 rea-
son 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 mate-
rial 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 heredi-
tary 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 tra-
ditions 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 abso-
lute 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 secu-
rity against partisan division within the church is as com-
plete as it can be made without gravely increasing the
risks of alienating additional multitudes from the fellow-
ship of the church.'

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 con-
ditions were favorable for the development of a race prej-
udice 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 con-
vent at Charlestown, near Boston, led to the burning of
the building by a drunken mob. The Titus Gates 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

1 For a fuller account of the dissensions in the Catholic Church, consult,
by index, Bishop O'Gorman's " History." On the modern organization of
the episcopate in complete dependence on the Holy See, consult the learned
article on " Episcopal Elections," by Dr. Peries, of the Cathohc University
at Washington, in the " American Catholic Quarterly Review " ftir January,
1896; also the remarks of Archbishop Kenrick, of St. Louis, in his " Cotuto
in Coticilio Vaticano Habenda at non Habita," in "An Inside View of the
Vatican Council," by L. W. Bacon, pp. 6l, I2i.


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 min-
isters 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.^ The conditions provoked, we might say neces-
sitated, a political reform movement, which took the name
and character of " Native American." In Philadelphia, a
city notorious at that time for misgovernment and turbu-
lence, 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

1 A satirical view of these concessions, in the vast dimensions which they
had reached twenty-five years later in the city and county of New York, wss
published in two articles, " Our Established Church," and " The Unestab-
lished Church," in "Putnam's Magazine" for July and December, 1869.
The articles were reissued in a pamphlet, ' ' with an explanatory and exculpa-
tory preface, and sundry notices of the contemporary press."


suppressed by the State militia. It was an appropriate
climax to the ten years of ecclesiastical and social

1 A studiously careful account of the Philadelphia riots of 1844 is given
in the " New Englander," vol. ii. (1844), pp. 470, 624.

This account of the schisms of the period is of course not complete. The
American Missionary Association, since distinguished for successful labors
chiefly among the freedmen, grew out of dissatisfaction felt by men of ad-
vanced antislavery views with the position of the "American Board" and the
American Home Missionary Society on the slavery question. The organiza-
tion of it was matured in 1846. A very fruitful schism in its results was that
which, in 1835, planted a cutting from Lane Seminary at Cincinnati, in the
virgin soil at Oberlin, Ohio. The beginning thus made with a class in theol-
ogy has grown into a noble and widely beneficent institution, the influence
of which has extended to the ends of the land and of the world.

The division of the Society of Friends into the two societies known as
Ilicksite and Orthodox is of earlier date— 1827-28.

No attempt is made in this volume to chronicle the interminable splittings
and reuuitings of the Presbyterian sects of Scottish extraction. A curious
diagram, on page 146 of volume xi. of the present series, illustrates the sort
of task which such a chronicle involves.

An illustration of the way in which the extreme defenders of slavery and
the extreme abolitionists sustained each other in illogical statements (see
above, pp. 301, 302) is found in Dr. Thornwell's claim (identical with Mr.
Garrison's) that if slavery is wrong, then all slave-holders ought to be ex-
communicated (vol. vi., p. 157, vote'). Dr. Tliornwell may not have been
the " mental and moral giant " that he appears to his admirers (see Professor
Johnson in vol. xi., p. 355), but he was an intelligent and able man, quite
too clear-headed to be imposed upon by a palpable " ambiguous middle," ex-
cept for his excitement in the heat of a desperate controversy with the moral
sense of all Christendom.




At the taking of the first census of the United States,
in I 790, the country contained a population of about four
millions in its territory of less than one million of square

Sixty years later, at the census of 1850, it contained a
population of more than twenty-three millions in its terri-
tory of about three millions of square miles.

The vast expansion of territory to more than threefold
the great original domain of the United States had been
made by honorable purchase or less honorable conquest.
It had not added largely to the population of the nation ;
the new acquisitions were mainly of unoccupied land.
The increase of the population, down to about 1845, was
chiefly the natural increase of a hardy and prolific stock
under conditions in the highest degree favorable to such
increase. Up to the year 1 820 the recent immigration had
been inconsiderable. In the ten years 1820-29 the annual
arrival of immigrants was nine thousand. In the next
decade, 1830-39, the annual arrival was nearly thirty-five
thousand, or a hundred a day. For forty years the
total immigration from all quarters was much less than a
half- million. In the course of the next three decades,
from 1840 to 1869, there arrived in the United States from


the various countries of Europe five and a half millions of
people. It was more than the entire population of the
country at the time of the first census; —

A multitude like which the populous North
Poured never from her frozen loins to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.

Under the pressure of a less copious flood of incursion the
greatest empire in all history, strongest in arts and polity
as well as arms, had perished utterly. If Rome, with her
population of one hundred and twenty millions, her genius
for war and government, and her long-compacted civiliza-
tion, succumbed under a less sudden rush of invasion, what
hope was there for the young American Republic, with its
scanty population and its new and untried institutions?^

An impressive providential combination of causes de-
termined this great historic movement of population at this
time. It was effected by attractions in front of the emi-
grant, reinforced by impulses from behind. The conclu-
sion of the peace of 1815 was followed by the beginning
of an era of great public works, one of the first of which
was the digging of the Erie Canal. This sort of enterprise
makes an immediate demand for large forces of unskilled
laborers ; and in both hemispheres it has been observed to
occasion movements of population out of Catholic countries

1 For condensed statistics of American immigration, see "Encyclopaedia
Britannica," gth ed., s. vv. " Emigration" and " United States." For the
facts concerning the Roman Empire one naturally has recourse to Gibbon.
From the indications there given we do not get the impression that in the
three centuries of the struggle of the empire against the barbarians there was
ever such a thirty years' flood of invasion as the immigration into the United
States from 1840 to 1869. The entrance into the Roman Empire tvas indeed
largely in the form of armed invasion ; but the most destructive influence of
the barbarians was when they were admitted as friends and naturalized as
citizens. See " Encyclopaedia Britannica," vol. xx., pp. 779, 780.


into Protestant countries. The westward current of the
indigenous population created a vacuum in the seaboard
States, and a demand for labor that was soon felt in the
labor-markets of the Old World. A liberal homestead
policy on the part of the national government, and natu-
ralization laws that were more than liberal, agencies for
the encouragement of settlers organized by individual
States and by railroad corporations and other great landed
proprietors, and the eager competition of steamship com-
panies drumming for steerage passengers in all parts of
Europe — all these cooperated with the growing facility
and cheapness of steam transportation to swell the current
of migration. The discovery of gold in California quick-
ened the flow of it.

As if it had been the divine purpose not only to draw
forth, but to drive forth, the populations of the Old World
to make their homes in the New, there was added to all
these causes conducive to migration the Irish famine of
1846-47, and the futile revolutions of 1848, with the
tyrannical reactions which followed them. But the great
stimulus to migration was the success and prosperity that
attended it. It was " success that succeeded." The great
emigration agent was the letter written to his old home
by the new settler, in multitudes of cases inclosing funds to
pay the passage of friends whom he had left behind him.

The great immigration that began about 1845 is dis-
tinguished from some of the early colonizations in that it
was in no sense a religious movement. Very grave re-
ligious results were to issue from it ; but they were to be
achieved through the unconscious cooperation of a multi-
tude of individuals each intent with singleness of vision on
his own individual ends. It is by such unconscious coop-
eration that the directing mind and the overruling hand of
God in history are most signally illustrated.


In the first rush of this increased immigration by far the
greatest contributor of new population was Ireland. It
not only surpassed any other country in the number of its
immigrants, but in the height of the Irish exodus, in the
decade 1840-50, it nearly equaled all other countries
of the world together. The incoming Irish miUions were
almost solidly Roman Catholic. The measures taken by
the British government for many generations to attach the
Irish people to the crown and convert them to the English
standard of Protestantism had had the result of discharging
upon our shores a people distinguished above all Christen-
dom besides for its ardent and unreserved devotion to the
Roman Church, and hardly less distinguished for its hatred
to England.

After the first flood-tide the relative number of the Irish
immigrants began to decrease, and has kept on decreasing
until now. Since the Civil War the chief source of immi-
gration has been Germany ; and its contributions to our
population have greatly aggrandized the Lutheran denomi-
nation, once so inconsiderable in numbers, until in many

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 25 of 34)