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Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross

Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Old South

Andrew Henry Stern

Publication Year: 2012

Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross examines the complex and often overlooked relationships between Catholics and Protestants in the antebellum South.

In sharp contrast to many long-standing presumptions about mistrust or animosity between these two groups, this study proposes that Catholic and Protestant interactions in the South were characterized more by cooperation than by conflict.
Andrew H. M. Stern argues that Catholics worked to integrate themselves into southern society without compromising their religious beliefs and that many Protestants accepted and supported them. Catholic leaders demonstrated the compatibility of Catholicism with American ideals and institutions, and Protestants recognized Catholics as useful citizens, true Americans, and loyal southerners, in particular citing their support for slavery and their hatred of abolitionism.
Mutual assistance between the two groups proved most clear in shared public spaces, with Catholics and Protestants participating in each other’s institutions and funding each other’s enterprises. Catholics and Protestants worshipped in each other’s churches, studied in each other’s schools, and recovered or died in each other’s hospitals.
In many histories of southern religion, typically thought of as Protestant, Catholicism tends to be absent. Likewise, in studies of American Catholicism, Catholic relationships with Protestants, including southern Protestants, are rarely discussed. Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross is the first book to demonstrate in detail the ways in which many Protestants actively fostered the growth of American Catholicism. Stern complicates the dominant historical view of interreligious animosity and offers an unexpected model of religious pluralism that helped to shape southern culture as we know it today.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

This work would not have been possible without the advice and support of many people and organizations. Emory University provided several grants for research and conference travel, as well as a fellowship that allowed me to focus on this project. One of the great pleasures of the project was the opportunity to explore...

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pp. 1-17

In 1842, the citizens of Charleston, South Carolina, lamented the passing of a great public figure. Across the city, church bells tolled; ships in the harbor flew their flags at half-mast; and politicians, journalists, and religious leaders added their voices to the chorus of dismay. The man the city mourned was not a...

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1. Living Together

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pp. 18-37

In 1782, a French immigrant to America named Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur published his Letters from an American Farmer. Crèvecoeur had arrived in North America in the 1750s and traveled throughout the colonies before settling in New York. A keen observer of American life and a nominal Catholic...

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2. Healing Together

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pp. 38-68

Yellow fever struck Augusta, Georgia, in June 1839. The epidemic began as a few isolated cases along the city’s riverfront, but it quickly spread. By mid-A ugust, with over forty confirmed cases and more being reported each day, Mayor Alfred Cumming convened the city’s physicians to discuss remedies. Their efforts...

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3. Educating Together

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pp. 69-108

A few days before Christmas 1831, a correspondent for the New Orleans Bee, on his way to Mobile, stumbled on an astonishing sight. On a hill a few miles outside the city, where the year before he had seen just a scattering of ramshackle buildings in various stages of completion, stood a college of lawns and gardens..

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4. Worshipping Together

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pp. 109-144

In 1830, Catholics in Louisville lay the cornerstone for a new St. Louis Church. It was an auspicious occasion, signifying growth and influence. Several bishops had traveled across the country to participate in the event. But as the crowd gathered, Catholics discovered that they were not alone— their Protestant neighbors...

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5. Ruling Together

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pp. 145-178

In July 1835, Charleston was a powder keg. Abolitionist tracts mysteriously appeared in the city, prompting rumors and panic. The Courier complained that “incendiary papers and tracts” were arriving by mail—a “monstrous abuse of this national convenience”—and threatening public order.1 Charlestonians were...

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pp. 179-182

Few antebellum buildings survive in downtown Atlanta. Of those that escaped the destruction of the Civil War, many fell to the wrecking ball as the city raced to reinvent itself as the commercial capital of the New South. But in the midst...


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pp. 183-246


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pp. 247-260


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pp. 261-265

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780817386290
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817317744

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012