“Of old Puritan stock” : shifting Catholic memory of the Puritans across the long nineteenth century, 1788–1920.


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Tracing American Catholic rhetorical uses of Puritan memory across the long nineteenth century, this thesis argues that shifts in memory demonstrate how American Catholics negotiated their place in society using stories and ideas usually associated with Protestants. During the antebellum era, Catholics used “Puritan” to mean bigot and hypocrite, but Civil War-era rhetoric connected North and Union with “Puritan,” catalyzing a shift in the meaning of “Puritan” among American-born Catholics and converts to Catholicism in the North. This group used positive memory of the Puritans to position themselves as loyal Americans and the heirs of Puritan fervor. After an introduction, the next two chapters use published sources by American Catholics to chronologically follow changing sentiment. The final two chapters take a thematic approach, examining Catholic assertions of Puritan blood and theological ancestry claims and exploring the writings of Catholic women about the Puritans through the lens of gender and nation.



Catholic. Puritan. Memory. Civil War. Antebellum. Progressive Era.