The Lincoln administration's failure to suppress the rebellion of the seceded states in the first year of the Civil War forced the president to resort to limited abolition as a military necessity. His Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, changed the nature of the war by making abolition a goal. Feeling that a war to preserve the Union had become an emancipation crusade, the Catholic community—hierarchy, press, religious, and laity—with virtual unanimity, opposed the president's executive order and a growing number came to oppose the war. Behind this resistance lay traditional Catholic teaching on slavery, the community's haunting memories of the Santo Domingo slave insurrection, fear of economic competition from emancipated slaves, racism, and an ideology that effectively separated the Church from the political order. As a consequence, Catholic opinion lagged behind developments in both Rome and America that condemned an institution previously thought to be protected by the Constitution and sanctioned by the Church. That lag put Catholics, in general, on the wrong side of the struggle in the Reconstruction era to preserve the spirit of Lincoln's proclamation.


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pp. 109-136
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