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John Hughes

John Hughes -  A Stan Klos Website

HUGHES, John, archbishop, born in Annalogham, County Tyrone, Ireland, 24 June, 1797; died in New York city, 3 January, 1864. He was the son of a small farmer, and his early education was meagre, most of his time being given to work in the fields and in the gardens of one of the neighboring gentry. In 1816 his father emigrated to the United States, settling at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania John followed him the next year, and found work at first with a gardener near Baltimore. Afterward he was a day laborer at Chambersburg and elsewhere. He had determined, however, even before he left Ireland, to be a priest, and finally entered Mount St. Mary's College, near Emmettsburg, Maryland, where he was to pay for his board and private tuition by taking care of the garden.  

He was now twenty-two years old, and his schooling was far in arrears; but in a few months he was qualified for admission to the college on the footing of a pupil teacher. He was ordained priest in 1826, and began his ministry in Philadelphia, where, after serving successively at St. Augustine's and St. Joseph's, he built in 1831-'2 the church of St. John, which became under his pastorship the principal Roman Catholic place of worship in the city. He had been scarcely three years a priest when he was strongly recommended for the coadjutor-bishopric of Philadelphia.  

The Roman Catholic body in the United States at this time was nowhere strong. The churches and priests were few, the dioceses were far too large for episcopal supervision, the institutions of learning were insignificant, the people were nearly all poor. Polemical warfare was general and extremely acrimonious, and the secular press devoted an undue attention to the controversies of the churches.  

The Roman Catholic clergy embraced many men of character and distinction, but, with the exception of Bishop England, of Charleston, none of them had any special talent or taste for polemics. Father Hughes possessed the gift for which there seemed to be just then the most pressing demand. He had native pugnacity, great courage, adroitness in debate, and the art of forcible statement. He had partly repaired the defects of his early training by hard reading; and, although he never became a scholar, he had a wide acquaintance with those branches of theology and history that were most likely to be of service in popular discussions.  

He dashed into the conflict with an energy that attracted notice far and near, measuring his skill with many eminent Protestant divines, and rarely permitting a serious attack upon his church to pass unnoticed. His most celebrated controversy was with the Reverend John Breckinridge, of the Presbyterian church, with whom he exchanged a series of public letters in 1833, printing them afterward in book-form under the title "Controversy between Reverend Messrs. Hughes and Breckinridge on the Subject, 'Is the Protestant Religion the Religion of Christ?’" (Philadelphia, 1833). An oral debate between the same adversaries took place before a Philadelphia literary society in 1835, and an imperfect record of it, prepared by the two disputants jointly, was afterward published (1836). This debate abounded in offensive personalities, and was never regarded with much complacency by either side.  

In January, 1838, Dr. Hughes was consecrated coadjutor to Bishop Dubois, of New York. He took the full administration of the diocese the next year, and succeeded to the bishopric on the death of Dr. Dubois in 1842. The territory over which he was called to rule embraced the whole state of New York and a large part of New Jersey. It contained 200,000 Roman Catholics, for whom there were about twenty churches, eight of them being in the city of New York. There were no colleges or seminaries, and very few schools. The churches were heavily in debt, and the trustees of the cathedral, taking up the cause of a suspended priest, were at war with the bishop, whose salary they threatened to stop unless he satisfied their demands.  

The young coadjutor was required to organize the diocese almost from the foundation. He obtained priests and teachers from Europe, founded St. John's College at Fordham, and, after a short and sharp contest with the malcontents at the cathedral, he permanently broke up the abuses of the trustee system, and established the absolute right of the bishop to appoint and remove pastors and otherwise administer spiritual concerns. In this case he won his victory by appealing to the congregation, who enthusiastically sustained him against the trustees; and thus at the beginning of his episcopate he demonstrated the rare gift as a popular leader which distinguished his later career.  

His influence over the Roman Catholic body was signally illustrated in the course of an exciting agitation of the public school question in 1840-'2. The distribution at the school money in the city of New York at that time was made at the discretion of a corporation known as the Public School Society. While the bishop was in Europe an effort was made to obtain a part of the appropriation for certain Roman Catholic schools, and a discussion began, which was marked on both sides by great acrimony.  

Dr. Hughes, on his return, immediately placed himself at the head of the movement, took decisive measures to separate it from political interests, and, after addressing a series of mass meetings, drew up a petition to the board of aldermen, containing a statement of the Roman Catholic case and a request for the admission of eight Roman Catholic schools to a participation in the common school fund. The question was publicly debated before the board during two days, by the bishop on one side, and counsel for the Public school society and five Protestant divines on the other.  

The petition was rejected, and the bishop then appealed to the legislature. There a measure was introduced, on the recommendation of the secretary of state, extending to the city of New York the general school system of the state, and transferring to elected commissioners the powers of the Public School Society. It granted nothing that the Roman Catholics asked; but the bishop supported it as an improvement upon the existing condition of things, and the Roman Catholic masses implicitly followed his advice.  

The school question became an issue in the election of 1841. Finding that most of the candidates of both parties were pledged against any change, Bishop Hughes caused the Roman Catholics to nominate an independent ticket, and at the municipal election in the following spring this was repeated. The result was the passage of a bill that became practically the basis of the present common school system, the bishop, Governor Seward, Thurlow Weed, and Horace Greeley being previously consulted as to its provisions, one of which was that no money should be given to denominational schools. Thus the chief purpose of the two years' agitation was defeated with the assent of the bishop himself.  

The principal result to Dr. Hughes was a great increase of his power over his own people, and of his reputation among Protestants, a life-long friendship with Governor Seward, and several newspaper wars, the most furious of which was with the "New York Herald."  

At the time of the "native American" riots in Philadelphia in 1844, when there was imminent danger of a repetition of the outrages in New York, he was strong enough to keep the Irish population quiet under great provocation, but he publicly declared that the Roman Catholics would fight if they were attacked, and caused a large body of armed volunteers to occupy the churches.  

During the Mexican war President Polk asked him to accept an unofficial mission to Mexico, where it was believed that his influence with the clergy might promote the conclusion of peace, but he declined this proposal.  

A few years later, in 1852, the United States government made an informal request at Rome for his elevation to the rank of cardinal, and in 1861 a direct and official application of the same nature was made by the administration of President Lincoln. He was created archbishop in 1850, with suffragans at Boston, Hartford, Albany, and Buffalo, to which were soon added the new sees of Brooklyn, Newark, and Burlington, Vermont.  

At the beginning of the civil war, although he was a severe censor of the abolitionists, he showed himself a fervent defender of the Union, and he wrote often to the president and Sec. Seward about the most effectual means for carrying on the war. At their request he visited Europe, to exert his personal influence and social tact, especially in high circles in France, for the benefit of the national cause. He sailed in November, 1861, in company with Thurlow Weed, who was charged with a similar mission, and he remained abroad until the following summer, stoutly defending the national interests, and holding a long and interesting conversation on American affairs with the French emperor. This was his last important public service.  

His health had long been failing, and his closing years were spent in great debility. He was an active agent in the foundation of the American college in Rome, established the present theological seminary of the province at Troy, began the new St. Patrick's cathedral, introduced numerous religious orders, especially those employed in teaching, and promoted free parish schools. The introduction into the legislature of a bill for the regulation of church property led to a vigorous newspaper controversy between the archbishop and Erastus Brooks (q. v.) respecting the tenure of such property in New York (1854). The archbishop republished the letters, with the title "Brooksiana" (New York, 1855); and they were also reprinted by Mr. Brooks. Controversies in fact of a personal or theological nature crowded upon him with hardly any cessation until almost his last days.  

The archbishop was a man of irreproachable private life, generous, kind-hearted, high-minded, frank, simple in his habits, stately and polished in his manners, an agreeable talker, and a firm friend. In the pulpit a dignified and attractive presence added to the effect of his fine but unstudied delivery. His style in speaking was clear and forcible. His writings were diffuse and hasty, but they had the great merit of fastening the attention of the public, and they always served their purpose. His strong attachment to his native land was often shown in conspicuous ways, but he was an ardent American, and vehemently opposed every project that tended to separate the Irish in this country from their native fellow-citizens. He had a great dislike for most of the Irish-Catholic newspapers and a contempt for the Irish revolutionary party. He had a high estimate of the episcopal office, ruling somewhat haughtily, but winning ready and cheerful obedience.  

On his own part he was a loyal subject of the holy see, and his devotion to the interests of his church was absolutely unselfish, he lived to see extraordinary changes in the condition of the church under his care, as well as in the public temper, which no longer enjoyed the hot polemics of his earlier years. But he had been a great force in an era when a fighting bishop was needed. When the nuncio, Archbishop Bedini, asked an American priest to explain why Archbishop Hughes was held in so much higher popular consideration than other prelates, the answer was: "I think it is because he is always game."  

His miscellaneous "Writings," comprising, besides works already mentioned, a great number of controversial, historical, and expository lectures, pamphlets, letters, etc., were collected by Laurence Kehoe (2 vols., New York, 1865). See also "Life of the Most Reverend John Hughes, D. D., First Archbishop of New York, with Extracts from his Private Correspondence," by John R. G. Hassard (1866).

 

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

 

HUGHES, John, archbishop, born in Annalogham, County Tyrone, Ireland, 24 June, 1797; died in New York city, 3 January, 1864. He was the son of a small farmer, and his early education was meagre, most of his time being given to work in the fields and in the gardens of one of the neighboring gentry. In 1816 his father emigrated to the United States, settling at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania John followed him the next year, and found work at first with a gardener near Baltimore. Afterward he was a day laborer at Chambersburg and elsewhere. He had determined, however, even before he left Ireland, to be a priest, and finally entered Mount St. Mary's college, near Emmettsburg, Maryland, where he was to pay for his board and private tuition by taking care of the garden. He was now twenty-two years old, and his schooling was far in arrears; but in a few months he was qualified for admission to the college on the footing of a pupil teacher. He was ordained priest in 1826, and began his ministry in Philadelphia, where, after serving successively at St. Augustine's and St. Joseph's, he built in 1831-'2 the church of St. John, which became under his pastorship the principal Roman Catholic place of worship in the city. He had been scarcely three years a priest when he was strongly recommended for the coadjutor-bishopric of Philadelphia. The Roman Catholic body in the United States at this time was nowhere strong. The churches and priests were few, the dioceses were far too large for episcopal supervision, the institutions of learning were insignificant, the people were nearly all poor. Polemical warfare was general and extremely acrimonious, and the secular press devoted an undue attention to the controversies of the churches. The Roman Catholic clergy embraced many men of character and distinction, but, with the exception of Bishop England, of Charleston, none of them had any special talent or taste for polemics. Father Hughes possessed the gift for which there seemed to be just then the most pressing demand. He had native pugnacity, great courage, adroitness in debate, and the art of forcible statement. He had partly repaired the defects of his early training by hard reading; and, although he never became a scholar, he had a wide acquaintance with those branches of theology and history that were most likely to be of service in popular discussions. He dashed into the conflict with an energy that attracted notice far and near, measuring his skill with many eminent Protestant divines, and rarely permitting a serious attack upon his church to pass unnoticed. His most celebrated controversy was with the Reverend John Breckinridge, of the Presbyterian church, with whom he exchanged a series of public letters in 1833, printing them afterward in book-form under the title "Controversy between Reverend Messrs. Hughes and Breckinridge on the Subject, ' Is the Protestant Religion the Religion of Christ?" (Philadelphia, 1833). An oral debate between the same adversaries tool; place before a Philadelphia literary society in 1835, and an imperfect record of it, prepared by the two disputants jointly, was afterward published (1836). This debate abounded in offensive personalities, and was never regarded with much complacency by either side. In January, 1838, Mr. Hughes was consecrated coadjutor to Bishop Dubois, of New York. He took the full administration of the diocese the next year, and succeeded to the bishopric on the death of Dr. Dubois in 1842. The territory over which he was called to rule embraced the whole state of New York and a large part of New Jersey. It contained 200,000 Roman Catholics, for whom there were about twenty churches, eight of them being in the city of New York. There were no colleges or seminaries, and very few schools. The churches were heavily in debt, and the trustees of the cathedral, taking up the cause of a suspended priest, were at war with the bishop, whose salary they threatened to stop unless he satisfied their demands. The young coadjutor was required to organize the diocese almost from the foundation. He obtained priests and teachers from Europe, founded St. John's college at Fordham, and, after a short and sharp contest with the malcontents at the cathedral, he permanently broke up the abuses of the trustee system, and established the absolute right of the bishop to appoint and remove pastors and otherwise administer spiritual concerns. In this case he won his victory by appealing to the congregation, who enthusiastically sustained him against the trustees; and thus at the beginning of his episcopate he demonstrated the rare gift as a popular leader which distinguished his later career. His influence over the Roman Catholic body was signally illustrated in the course of an exciting agitation of the public school question in 1840-'2. The distribution at the school money in the city of New York at that time was made at the discretion of a corporation known as the Public school society. While the bishop was in Europe an effort was made to obtain a part of the appropriation for certain Roman Catholic schools, and a discussion began, which was marked on both sides by great acrimony. Dr. Hughes, on his return, immediately placed himself at the head of the movement, took decisive measures to separate it from political interests, and, after addressing a series of mass meetings, drew up a petition to the board of aldermen, containing a statement of the Roman Catholic case and a request for the admission of eight Roman Catholic schools to a participation in the common school fund. The question was publicly debated before the board during two days, by the bishop on one side, and counsel for the Public school society and five Protestant divines on the other. The petition was rejected, and the bishop then appealed to the legislature. There a measure was introduced, on the recommendation of the secretary of state, extending to the city of New York the general school system of the state, and transferring to elected commissioners the powers of the Public school society. It granted nothing that the Roman Catholics asked; but the bishop supported it as an improvement upon the existing condition of things, and the Roman Catholic masses implicitly followed his advice. The school question became an issue in the election of 1841. Finding that most of the candidates of both parties were pledged against any change, Bishop Hughes caused the Roman Catholics to nominate an independent ticket, and at the municipal election in the following spring this was repeated. The result was the passage of a bill that became practically the basis of the present common school system, the bishop, Governor Seward, Thurlow Weed, and Horace Greeley being previously consulted as to its provisions, one of which was that no money should be given to denominational schools. Thus the chief purpose of the two years' agitation was defeated with the assent of the bishop himself. The principal result to Dr. Hughes was a great increase of his power over his own people, and of his reputation among Protestants, a life-long friendship with Governor Seward, and several newspaper wars, the most furious of which was with the "New York Herald." At the time of the " native American" riots in Philadelphia in 1844, when there was imminent danger of a repetition of the outrages in New York, he was strong enough to keep the Irish population quiet under great provocation, but he publicly declared that the Roman Catholics would fight if they were attacked, and caused a large body of armed volunteers to occupy the churches. During the Mexican war President Polk asked him to accept an unofficial mission to Mexico, where it was believed that his influence with the clergy might promote the conclusion of peace, but he declined this proposal. A few years later, in 1852, the United States government made an informal request at Rome for his elevation to the rank of cardinal, and in 1861 a direct and official application of the same nature was made by the administration of President Lincoln. He was created archbishop in 1850, with suffragans at Boston, Hartford, Albany, and Buffalo, to which were soon added the new sees of Brooklyn, Newark, and Burlington, Vermont At the beginning of the civil war, although he was a severe censor of the abolitionists, he showed himself a fervent defender of the Union, and he wrote often to the president and Sec. Seward about the most effectual means for carrying on the war. At their request he visited Europe, to exert his personal influence and social tact, especially in high circles in France, for the benefit of the national cause. He sailed in November, 1861, in company with Thurlow Weed, who was charged with a similar mission, and he remained abroad until the following summer, stoutly defending the national interests, and holding a long and interesting conversation on American affairs with the French emperor. This was his last important Imblic service. His health had long been failing, and Ins closing years were spent in great debility. He was an active agent in the foundation of the American college in Rome, established the present theological seminary of the province at Troy, began the new St. Patrick's cathedral, introduced numerous religious orders, especially those employed in teaching, and promoted free parish schools. The introduction into the legislature of a bill for t, he regulation of church property led to a vigorous newspaper controversy between the archbishop and Erastus Brooks (q. v.) respecting the tenure of such property in New York (1854). The archbishop republished the letters, with the title "Brooksiana" (New York, 1855); and they were also reprinted by Mr. Brooks. Controversies in fact of a personal or theological nature crowded upon him with hardly any cessation until almost his last days. The archbishop was a man of irreproachable private life, generous, kind-hearted, high-minded, frank, simple in his habits, stately and polished in his manners, an agreeable talker, and a firm friend. In the pulpit a dignified and attractive presence added to the effect of his fine but unstudied delivery. His style in speaking was clear and forcible. His writings were diffuse and hasty, but they had the great merit of fastening the attention of the public, and they always served their purpose. His strong attachment to his native land was often shown in conspicuous ways, but he was an ardent American, and vehemently opposed every project that tended to separate the Irish in this country from their native fellow-citizens. He had a great dislike for most of the Irish-Catholic newspapers and a contempt for the Irish revolutionary party. He had a high estimate of the episcopal office, ruling somewhat haughtily, but winning ready and cheerful obedience. On his own part he was a loyal subject of the holy see, and his devotion to the interests of his church was absolutely unselfish, he lived to see extraordinary changes in the condition of the church under his care, as well as in the public temper, which no longer enjoyed the hot polemics of his earlier years. But he had been a great force in an era when a fighting bishop was needed. When the nuncio, Archbishop Bedini, asked an American priest to explain why Archbishop Hughes was held in so much higher popular consideration than other prelates, the answer was: "I think it is because he is always game." His miscellaneous "Writings," comprising, besides works already mentioned, a great number of controversial, historical, and expository lectures, pamphlets, letters, etc., were collected by Laurence Kehoe (2 vols., New York, 1865). See also "Life of the Most Reverend John Hughes, D. D., First Archbishop of New York, with Extracts from his Private Correspondence," by John R. G. Hassard (1866).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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