We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

A History of the Catholic Church in the American South, 1513-1900

James M. Woods

Publication Year: 2011

No Christian denomination has had a longer or more varied existence in the American South than the Catholic Church. The Spanish missions established in Florida and Texas promoted Catholicism. Catholicism was the dominant religion among the French who settled in Louisiana. Prior to the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840s, most American Catholics lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. Anti-Catholic prejudice was never as strong in the South as in the North or Midwest and was rare in the region before the twentieth century.

James Woods's sweeping history stretches from the first European settlement of the continent through the end of the Spanish-American War. The book is divided into three distinct sections: the colonial era, the early Republic through the annexation of Texas in 1845, and the stormy latter half of the nineteenth century. Woods pays particular attention to church/state relations, mission work and religious orders, the church and slavery, immigration to the South, and the experience of Catholicism in a largely Protestant region. He also highlights the contributions and careers of certain important southern Catholics, both clerical and lay, and considers how the diverse Catholic ethnic and racial groups have expressed their faith--and their citizenship--through the centuries.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (51.7 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (45.3 KB)
pp. v-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (46.6 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (48.3 KB)
pp. ix-x

I would first like to thank Ms. Meredith Morris-Babb, the director, and all the staff at the University Press of Florida for transforming this manuscript into a book. It could not have been written without the assistance of Cynthia Frost and the interlibrary loan staff of the Georgia Southern University...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (65.7 KB)
pp. xi-xv

During the late summer and early fall of 1878, a yellow fever epidemic struck the lower Mississippi River valley, and panic spread throughout the region. Cities like Memphis, Tennessee, and Grenada and Vicksburg, towns on the Mississippi River, were also afflicted. Holly Springs,...

I. The Colonial Context,1513–1763

pdf iconDownload PDF (25.8 KB)
pp. xvii

read more

1. Cross and Sword: The Spanish Catholic Mission to La Florida, 1513–1763

pdf iconDownload PDF (236.7 KB)
pp. 1-31

On the Saturday after Easter, April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de León first sighted the coast of what would become the United States and part of the American South. He was not, however, the first European to see these shores. For at least a decade, slavers operating out of La Española (now Haiti...

read more

2. Padres, Prairies, and Piney Woods: Catholicism in Spanish Texas, 1519–1763

pdf iconDownload PDF (423.6 KB)
pp. 32-71

On July 22, 1629, about fifty Jumanos Indians from present-day west Texas appeared at the gates of the Franciscan monastery of San Antonio near present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico. This particular tribe had been unknown to the Spaniards until then. With great difficulty, these natives...

read more

3. Fleur-de-Lis: Catholicism in French Lower Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, 1673–1763

pdf iconDownload PDF (236.2 KB)
pp. 72-105

On a warm day in July 1673, on the Mississippi River just above its junction with the Arkansas River, a French Catholic missionary first encountered natives in what would become the American South. Thirty-six-year-old French Jesuit Jacques Marquette, fur trapper Louis Jolliet, and five other...

read more

4. To the Manor Born: Catholics in the Southern English Colonies, 1633–1763

pdf iconDownload PDF (213.0 KB)
pp. 106-137

On March 5, 1634, ships named the Ark and the Dove, sailing under the English flag, approached the mouth of the Potomac River in the Chesapeake Bay. Each carried between 140 and 150 passengers, and of these, a little less than half were English Roman Catholics. Within this group, disguised...

II. American Republicanism and European Decline, 1763–1845

pdf iconDownload PDF (25.9 KB)
pp. 139

read more

5. The Carroll Era: Southern Catholics and the New American Republic, 1763–1815

pdf iconDownload PDF (230.7 KB)
pp. 141-174

On April 27, 1776, four men approached the town of St. Johns in what is the now the Canadian province of Quebec. Two days later they reached Montreal, then occupied by colonial military forces under the command of General Benedict Arnold. This party remained in Montreal for two weeks....

read more

6. Church and State: The Erosion of European Empires in the South, 1763–1821

pdf iconDownload PDF (379.5 KB)
pp. 175-214

On Sunday, March 5, 1805, Francisco Antonio Ildefonso Moreno y Arze de Sedilla, a member of the Capuchin branch of Franciscans, prepared to offer Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. This Spanish-born priest was better known to the French Catholics of that city as Père Antoine...

read more

7. Annexation and Accommodation: Catholic Growth within the Expanding South, 1815–1845

pdf iconDownload PDF (271.5 KB)
pp. 215-252

On Saturday evening, January 7, 1815, at the chapel of the Ursuline convent in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) section of New Orleans, Ursuline sisters, other interested women, and some elderly men prayed all night before the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor...

III. Resistance, Rebellion, Reconstruction, and Regionalism, 1845–1900

pdf iconDownload PDF (25.9 KB)
pp. 253

read more

8. From Aliens to Confederates: Catholics in the South, 1845–1865

pdf iconDownload PDF (272.2 KB)
pp. 255-295

On December 12, 1860, a mass meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia, to hear speeches calling for the secession of Georgia from the Union now that the “black” Republican, Abraham Lincoln, had been elected president of the United States. Among those addressing the crowd was a rugged-looking man...

read more

9. A Regional Religion: Catholic Prelates in the Postbellum South, 1865–1900

pdf iconDownload PDF (266.7 KB)
pp. 296-333

On July 18, 1870, within St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, an important vote took place at the First Vatican Council, the twentieth ecumenical gathering of the Roman Catholic Church, the first in three hundred years. Not only was this the first council convened at the Vatican, it was the first to contain...

read more

10. Migrations, Movements, and Ministry: Catholicism in the South,1845–1900

pdf iconDownload PDF (272.5 KB)
pp. 334-375

News of Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union general Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, struck sorrow throughout most, yet not all, of the American South. Soon after this event, a Catholic priest in Clarksville, Tennessee, brooded over this news. First scribbling down some...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.8 KB)
pp. 376-378

In 1937, the Littlefield Fund at the University of Texas agreed to finance a series of books on the history of the South. The first volume, written by Wesley Frank Craven, appeared in 1949, and it began southern history at 1607. Historians since that time know better and therefore no longer initiate...


pdf iconDownload PDF (404.3 KB)
pp. 379-445


pdf iconDownload PDF (238.5 KB)
pp. 447-479


pdf iconDownload PDF (139.4 KB)
pp. 481-498

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (40.1 KB)
pp. 500

E-ISBN-13: 9780813036601
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813035321
Print-ISBN-10: 0813035325

Page Count: 520
Illustrations: 12 b&w illustrations, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2011