Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Crothers, A. Glenn

Committee Member

Crothers, A. Glenn

Committee Member

Farrier, Jasmine

Author's Keywords

Roman Catholic; Border States; Civil War; anti-Catholicism; anti-Protestantism; clergy


This thesis analyzes how Roman Catholic clergy in the Border States—Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland—interpreted the United States Civil War. Overall, it argues that prelates and priests from the region viewed the war through a religious lens informed by their Catholic worldview. Influenced by their experiences with anti-Catholicism and nativism as well as the arguments of the Catholic apologist movement, the clergy interpreted the war as a product of the ill-effects of Protestantism in the country. In response, the clergy argued that if more Americans had practiced Catholicism then the war could and would have been avoided. Furthermore, this thesis illustrates how the interconnectedness of the anti-Catholic and antislavery movements shaped the clergy’s interpretations of the war and the political parties of the era. By analyzing how the clergy responded to the election of 1860, the secession crisis, the debate over slavery, and civil liberties disputes during the war, this thesis underscores the clergy’s belief that Protestantism created fanatical leaders, sectional division, and national instability, while Catholicism preserved law, order, and morality in society.