Catholic Freedom, Protestant Slavery? Reconsidering Anti-Catholicism in Maryland, 1688-1776

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation examines the nature of anti-Catholicism in Maryland from the Glorious Revolution in 1688 until American independence in 1776.It demonstrates that while anti-Catholicism existed in Maryland throughout the period, in the form of statute law and popular sentiment, the phenomenon represented a political response rather than a theological objection to the Catholic religion.Each emergence of anti-Catholic sentiment grew from the concerns of the day, rather than a consistent objection to that religion or its members.Anti-Catholic sentiment during the Glorious Revolution targeted actual Catholics in the colony, but also extended to their supporters (alleged and real) in Maryland and Virginia.Protestant objections to Catholics after 1700 represented a wider concern about adherents of non-Anglican religions extant in Maryland.The enthusiasm for anti-Catholic legislation passed during the Hart administration had its roots in anti-Quaker sentiment after 1700.Rather than representing a coherent anti-Catholic platform, penal laws in Maryland emerged after a feud between Governor John Hart and the Catholic Charles Carroll.Maryland politics split into two factions – country and proprietary – after 1720.Anti-Catholicism withered as a political tool for two decades.Proprietary officials in Maryland used anti-Catholicism to encourage the country faction to fund defenses against a possible Spanish invasion.The country faction resisted such calls, but then used anti-Catholicism themselves during the French and Indian War to discredit proprietary officials.Finally, the example of John Carroll demonstrates that eighteenth century Catholics could themselves cite popery as a danger.Carroll, a Jesuit priest, connected the role played by European Catholic monarchs to suppress the Jesuits to contemporaneous Hanoverian overreach in North America.


Attribute NameValues
Author John (JJ) Shanley
Contributor Patrick N. Griffin, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline History
Degree Name PhD
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2018-10-08

Submission Date 2018-11-26
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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