Diplomatic archbishop

16 September 2009

Many Americans think that the Constitution mandates a total separation of church and state: the government should have nothing to do whatsoever with any religious organization. This is a recent development, though; in the 19c, the U. S. Government had a special battalion of Mormons in the U. S. Army; it paid Quakers and Catholics and others to educate native Americans; and, in the little item I just put up today, it commissioned a Catholic archbishop as a diplomatic representative: read all about it. (Oh, and in case you’re still wondering, what the Constitution prohibits is the establishment of any religious belief; which presumably includes atheism and secular humanism.)

The homepage of my American history site (25 books, 12,000 pages of print, 600 images in 800+ webpages) is here.

American Catholic history

11 September 2009

I tend to mark September 11 by adding some important item to the site. Today, it’s American Catholic History: an orientation page to what I expect will be a growing site on the Catholic contribution to our American history, and in particular to the development of the frontier, which is my main theme these days. Right now, the linchpin of the site is not John Gilmary Shea’s History or one of the (few) public-domain works by Ellis or some similar general item, but a rather odd one, a 600‑page book by Camillus Maes: the Life of Charles Nerinckx, a Belgian pioneer priest of Kentucky. Some journal articles round out the site: some of them related to Fr. Nerinckx, but among the others, Flemish Franciscan Missionaries in North America; Father Sebastian Rale, S. J. (1657‑1724) who evangelized the Abnaki Indians in Maine; The Significance of the Frontier to the Historian of the Catholic Church in the United States, a vigorous rebuttal to an exaggerated application of Frederick Jackson Turner’s theory of the frontier; and The Mission as a Frontier Institution in the Spanish-American Colonies by Herbert Bolton, solid as that author always is.

The homepage of my American history site (25 books, 12,000 pages of print, 600 images in 800+ webpages) is here.