"A Base and Unmanly Conspiracy": Catholicism and the Hogan Schism in the Gendered Religious Marketplace of Philadelphia
Abstract

When the Catholic priest William Hogan was charged with the attempted rape and assault of parishioner Mary Connell in 1821, the ensuing trial fed a debate about gender and religion in the early national era. Fears about gender disruption had already been at the heart of the so-called Hogan Schism. St. Mary's Church in Philadelphia, like many other Catholic and Protestant congregations, felt the market strains of the Second Great Awakening, as followers pushed for more authority in their churches. Hogan had accommodated this desire, crafting a republican message and charismatic persona that appealed to male and female congregants alike. In doing so, he inflamed a long standing fight for power between the church hierarchy and elected trustees. As competing churchmen fought for adherents they found that women's efforts on their behalf were central to their struggle. Hogan would resent the bishop's seeming deployment of a female agent to bring him down. Yet Hogan himself had relied on this same woman, Mary Connell, to advance his cause. In addition, Hogan, a noted dandy, saw his very manhood interrogated from several quarters amidst these disputes. His seeming charm over female parishioners opened difficult questions about the nature of masculinity within a church that demanded celibacy of its clergy. In the long term, the schism and trial encouraged damaging criticism of Catholicism that would inform antebellum strains of nativism. Hogan himself would exploit this potential by portraying women as one of the primary victims of the unchecked power vested in priests. In both literal and metaphorical fashion, the Hogan Schism proved an "unmanly" dispute.


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