The Real Heroes of the 1863 Draft Riots

The staircase in my rectory is lined with pictures of the twelve pastors who preceded me in my parish, which is called Hell’s Kitchen.  I hope that thirteen is a benign number. While the neighborhood now is experiencing the most promising real estate development in the history of the nation, it did not get its nickname for being what it is now.  Here is where the boatloads of Irish immigrants from the Great Famine arrived at the nearby docks, amid terrible poverty, crime and vice, giving our vocabulary the “Paddy wagon” and “donnybrook.” The faces of my first predecessors are serious, for those pastors had a hard job to do for God and I cannot hope to fill the shoes of those men who toiled in ill streets.

The first of them was Monsignor Arthur J. Donnelly who built a huge parish from scratch in 1857, regularizing marriages and tending abandoned children, and trying to form a Catholic culture just as Archbishop Cullen had managed to do somewhat in Dublin where, contrary to romance, oppression had long neglected the moral norms of the Church.  Donnelly was pastor during the Civil War and was appalled by what was happening to his people and nation as he tried to establish the parish.  The great church, school, and convent that he established were moved a generation later two blocks north to make way for the Pennsylvania Station.

The Draft Riots took place July 13-16 in 1863. They had precedent in Cincinnati in 1862 where Bishop John Purcell’s brother, the Reverend Edward Purcell, was singular in his anti-slavery publicity through The Cincinnati Telegraph. Orestes Brownson, whom John Henry Newman hoped might join his new Catholic University in Dublin, observed that pro-slavery Catholics for the most part  “only acted out the opinions they had received from men of higher religious and social position than themselves,” and insisted that  “had they been guided properly, the riots would never have taken place, or at least the main participants in them would not have been Irish Catholics.”

In New York the riots lasted four days and at least 120 were killed, while some estimates have 500 or more. Over 2,000 were injured, and more than 50 businesses and homes and two Protestant churches were destroyed. Racism melded with religious bigotry and some Protestant churches were threatened because they were pro-Republican and centers of the abolition cause.  Rioters sacked the Protestant “Five Points Mission” as a parish priest, at great danger to himself, tried to stop them while wearing his stole and waving his Breviary. Two blocks from my rectory a black man was lynched on a lamp post, mutilated, and set on fire.  The nearby Presbyterian church was about to be torched when Monsignor Donnelly appealed to the mob and the church was saved.   Today at Mass I sit in a large oak chair that was the gift of the Presbyterian minister and his elders in gratitude for their rescue. When Monsignor Donnelly died in 1890 after thirty-three years as pastor, the Presbyterians attended his Requiem Mass, the first they had ever seen.  Many of the overwhelmed police were Irish Catholics, horrified at what they saw, and they behaved heroically, like the local regimental Colonel Henry O’Brien, who was killed protecting a policeman.

However, as we have seen in recent times, race hustlers saw their opportunity to inflame the lower passions of men, and the mobs were encouraged by “community activists” from the Lower East Side and from as far as Philadelphia, with local gangs such as the Dead Rabbits, the Roach Guards, and the Forty Thieves, and the Plug Uglies and Blood Tubs from Baltimore. Some local Catholic pastors put themselves at risk, one stopping the looting of Columbia College, as did others in smaller riots in Hoboken, Hudson City and Jersey City. Nothing stopped the burning of the Colored Orphans Asylum on 43rd Street from which 233 children managed to escape just as the previous year dozens of black women and children barely escaped the torching of a tobacco factory in Brooklyn. The bishops of Buffalo and Cleveland issued pastoral letters and one pastor in Troy saved a black church from arson. But these were unusual interventions.  The great Fredrick Douglass, himself a former slave, who had spent six happy months in Ireland two decades earlier, inspired by the liberator Daniel O’Connell, lamented that “a people who so nobly loved and cherished the thought of liberty at home in Ireland become, willingly, the oppressors of another race.”

The riots, which remain the worst civil insurrection in our nation’s history, were barely mentioned in New York on their 150th anniversary.  They were precipitated by the iniquitous Conscription Act the previous March, which allowed exemption from the newly imposed draft upon payment of $300, which was the annual wage for many laborers. Rich men like the fathers of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt paid the fee easily. Irish soldiers were over 15 percent of the Union enlistment, and the carnage was terrible.  However, feelings also were fueled by resentment at Emancipation and fear that black laborers, especially longshoremen, would take jobs from whites. Sentiment was exacerbated by Catholic journals, such as the Freeman’s Journal, the Catholic Register, and the Catholic Metropolitan Record, which, speaking for Archbishop John Hughes, had declared in May 1861 that slavery existed by the “Divine permission of God’s providence.”

The supposed chief hero of it all was in fact slow to address the scene. Archbishop John Hughes had come to America from County Tyrone and was employed as a gardener and stonemason in Maryland, where the Jesuits long before had owned a large slave population.  The future bishop of New York, John Dubois was then the head of St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburgh and rejected his application for seminary studies.  Elizabeth Ann Seton persuaded Dubois to take him in, since Hughes’s lack of academic qualifications had not been his fault, given the Irish Penal Laws, but there was also a distinct difference in personalities.  Dubois had been educated in the classical tradition in Paris under the Sulpicians, having also been a schoolmate of, remarkably, the revolutionaries Robespierre and Desmoulins, at the Lycéé Louis-le-Grand.  During the French Revolution, Robespierre respected their old school tie and actually helped Dubois escape.

Dubois was the only non-Irish Ordinary in the history of New York, suffering much at the hands of those who considered his erudition the stain of a “foreigner.” They complained that he did not speak English well—this in spite of the fact that he had been tutored in English by Patrick Henry, and his eloquence impressed James Monroe, to whom he had been introduced by Lafayette. It must not have been easy for him to have been assigned Hughes as his coadjutor in 1838, especially as Hughes, called “a tyrant, but with feeling,” harbored a habit of not forgetting a grudge.  Later, Hughes berated the local laity for their mistreatment of Dubois, but it could be said that his animus was more against the trustee system that Dubois had also opposed.  The old Frenchman asked to be buried under the sidewalk so that the people could “walk on me in my death as they did while I was alive.” Hughes obliged him with unseemly meticulousness.

One biographer said that Hughes was “impetuous and authoritarian, a poor administrator and worse financial manager, indifferent to the non-Irish members of his flock and prone to invent reality when it suited the purposes of his rhetoric.” If he was a “fool for Christ’s sake,” he generously supplied the raw material.  He enjoyed the grand stage, as when he threatened to turn New York into “another Moscow” if any church were attacked by the Know-Nothings.  The grandiloquence was rather vacuous since, although there were ignorant anti-Catholic bigots like Samuel Morse and P.T. Barnum rumbling in New York, the real torchings were in Philadelphia.  In 1843-44 Hughes toured plantations in the South and Cuba, and on his return he preached in Old Patrick’s Cathedral on the virtues of the slave system.  While slavery was “an evil” as he had written in a youthful poem, he decided that it was “not an absolute and unmitigated evil.”

Hughes went so far as to oppose the Free Soil movements and asked, in defense of slave masters, “Is not the father of the family invested with the power of God that he is sovereign, commanding and expecting to be obeyed as he should?”  The archbishop’s sister, Margaret had married into the Rodrigue family, which had fled the 1793 slave rebellion in Haiti. She helped instill in her brother a fear of the race she thought as tempestuous as they were inferior. When the Civil War broke out, he wrote to the pro-slavery Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charlestown, South Carolina, a native of County Fermanagh, agreeing with him on states rights, and in May 1861 he declared that abolition violated the United States Constitution, and demanded that Lincoln should resign from the Presidency should he free the slaves. A great friend was William Seward and he regretted that Seward had lost the Republican nomination to Lincoln. Seward was “the only one in the cabinet of Mr. Lincoln fit to be at the helm.” Seward kept a portrait of Hughes in his house, which he told some Nativists was Washington in his Masonic robes.

Through Seward’s influence, in 1861, Hughes received a presidential commission to tour Europe in advocacy of the Union, which he patriotically defended, apart from the slavery issue. Privately he wrote to European merchants warning them that abolition would hurt their commerce.  His trip is often cited as a valiant success, which to some degree it was with Napoleon III, although France was unlikely to turn against the Union.  He received a federal expense account of about $118,000 in current exchange, and then asked to extend his travels for another six months at a higher fee, which Lincoln rejected.  Much is made of Lincoln’s hint to the Holy See that Hughes be given a special honor, interpreted as the Red Hat.  It is quite unlikely that Lincoln was fluent in such ecclesiastical matters and Cardinal Antonelli may have sensed that Seward had proposed this at the prompting of Hughes, who was a man not without ambition.  The request was ignored.

The Draft Riots were the darkest blot on the Church in the United States until the modern sex scandals and their concomitant episcopal dereliction of duty. Some polishing of reality has been attempted to vaunt Archbishop Hughes as a hero who saved the day.  But Mayor Fernando Wood  (himself a Confederate sympathizer) and other civic officials had been pleading with Hughes to do something and he did not act.  Finally, he responded to an appeal from Governor Horatio Seymour.

The archbishop’s residence then was on the corner of Madison and 36th Street, which still exists, although the balcony has been removed and a beauty parlor and optical shop occupy the ground floor.  On Thursday, July 16, unwell, and wearing the toupee which had long been his gesture to vanity, and which none of the faithful dared to remark, he appeared before 4,000 most of whom, he said, were not rioters, although some in the crowd sporadically shouted the crudest racial epithets which the archbishop ignored.  Amid the din, he chose to be humorous and elicited laughter with his jibes at the abolitionists, and said virtually nothing about slavery but much by innuendo about his foes Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune and James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald, never mentioning the attack on Greeley’s office building.  Previously he had condemned Bennett for being anti-Catholic, a wonderful charge since Bennett was a devout Catholic of the Scottish Highlands.  But Bennett was a different sort of Celt. He did not please Hughes when once he remarked on the beauty of the Catholic solemn liturgies but unkindly added that to celebrate them properly among the “general run of New York Irish was like putting gold rings through a pig’s nose.”  The crowd disbursed and the speech did not end the riots.  The arrival in Murray Hill of the first of 4,000 Federal troops, many bearing the scars of Gettysburg, did. Until then, through Thursday night, violence continued.

One case:  “Coroner Naumann held an inquest yesterday on the body of Mr. Henry Yates, a colored man, 41 years of age, who committed suicide at the house of his employer, James Martin, in Madison-street, by first cutting his throat, and then hanging himself to a cellar door by means of a small cord. The deceased resided in Water-street, and when the houses of the colored people were attacked by the mob on Thursday night, he undertook to defend his wife and children. The resistance which he offered was such as to excite them to the highest pitch, and many swore that he should be burned alive if caught. He secreted his family in the best way possible, and when resistance became hopeless he ran to the house of his employer where he was soon after found dead in the condition above stated.”

Offended that Hughes claimed to have saved the day, Greeley charged Hughes with having helped foment the chaos, and pointed out that if he had indeed been able to quell the riots, he should also have been able to prevent them. Greeley mocked Hughes for having “supported conscription, but not coercive conscription,” and asked “Was there any other kind?”  On Friday, Hughes wrote to Seward: “The plea of the discontents is, on the surface, the draft. At the bottom, however, in my opinion, the discontent will be found in what the misguided people imagine to be a disposition on the part of a few here and elsewhere to make black labor equal to white labor….”

Lord Macaulay said, “There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles II. But the seamen were not gentlemen, and the gentlemen were not seamen.” To make myth oblige fact, it may be said of the Draft Riots, that there were heroes and prelates in the New York of 1863, but for the most part the heroes were not prelates and the prelates were not heroes.  Or so it seems when one looks at the pictures of those old pastors in Hell’s Kitchen.

 Editor’s note: Pictured above is Archbishop John Hughes.

Fr. George W. Rutler


Fr. George W. Rutler is pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. He is the author of many books including Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943 (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press) and Hints of Heaven (Sophia Institute Press). His latest books are He Spoke To Us (Ignatius, 2016) and The Stories of Hymns (EWTN Publishing, 2017).

  • Don

    A history lesson to begin my day . . . how pleasant. Thank you Rev. Rutler!

  • justanotherlittlesoul

    Thought provoking, and irritating. Irritating because history needlessly repeats itself. Lord, save us from compromising leadership blinded by ego.

    • Paddy

      Let’s thank a prelate who founded Fordham. Manhattan and St. Vincent’s colleges.. He essentially established Catholic education in America, too and appointed a wonderful group of leaders. If Rutler was O’Rutler, he’d have been thrilled, but no body’s perfect. (Just kidding, father.)

      • justanotherlittlesoul

        Not to deny the great leadership God has blessed us with. Nor that great things have been accomplished by less than perfect prelates. Just a sigh of the heart for the times evil could have been prevented by a little bit of selflessness by leaders, great or not.

  • Tann

    A vain Irish Catholic archbishop of New York who truckles to grievance politics? How dreadful! Thank God we live in better times.

    • Beak86


    • TommyD6of11

      I know Fr. Rutler. I am confident, as I am sure you’d agree, that he is writing more about Cardinal Dolan than Cardinal Hughes.

  • RufusChoate

    A fine article, Father Rutler. The similarity of Hughes with a certain Bumptious Buffoon also based in New York episcopacy who shall remain nameless is striking.

  • jeremiah_methusela

    Worth remembering

  • Robert M. O’Brien

    A little harsh, Father, no? After all, Bennett’s sentiment that the Irish were swine was, to say the least, not unique. During Hughes tenure Know Nothings who would gladly have thrown him into the sea captured the mayoralty and governorship. For every Irish Roche Guard there were two Star Spangled Atlantic Guards. In fact Hughes from the beginnings of the war supported universal conscription, that is no substitutes for the rich at a price no longshoreman with a large family could afford. Hate to say it, this is one hatchet job on Amanda who set the stage for the advancement of his despised flock.

    • RufusChoate

      A fine sound rebuttal, Cheers.

    • John Albertson

      Alas, Hughes’s solicitude for his flock did not vigorously include the Germans, French, Poles, Slovaks, and newly arriving Italians, let alone Anglo converts.

      • flourgiggy

        From what I can determine, the nationalities you mention did not immigrate to this country in great numbers until the late 19th century, years after Archbishop Hughes was dead.

        Obviously, if Irish immigrants composed the greater number of Hughes’s flock, and were in a desperate state of existence, it stands to reason that they would rightly receive the larger portion of the Archbishop’s attention.

        A mother gives her sick child more of her time than she does her well children, and it isn’t because she is lacking in solicitude.

  • ForChristAlone

    Is there anywhere a picture of Hughes with a wide toothy smile slapping the back of the nearest politician?

  • ethelagnes

    Dubois ‘suffering much at the hands of those who considered his erudition the stain of a “foreigner” sounds a bit familiar. I bet if you said bury me under the sidewalk, etc. 1011 would have someone down at West 34th Street to begin digging.

    It is good that we still have men of Faith on the altar. Thank you. Mary D.

  • kelso

    Great article. So much history I never knew. Hughes also gave the great convert/apologist Orestes Brownson a hard time. But, on the other hand, he did confront. alone, the No-Nothing rabble in Central Park, or so I’ve read. He hid his cassock under a long coat, walked through the crowd, mounted the platform, took off his coat and warned the motley crew that the Irish were prepared to shed blood to protect Saint Patrick’s. No one touched him and there was no attack on the church. No one should blame him for attacking Bennett if that is how the Scotsman felt about the Irish.

    • Kimberly

      Well, I wouldn’t say he confronted them alone if he waved the specter of a large group of blood shedding Irish under their noses. It sounds like he hurled a very credible threat against them which he also used to protect himself.

      • Paddy

        Sounds like Hughes was filled with the Holy Spirit.
        Revisionism plagues history. These were times when a Cavan man couldn’t stand the sight of a Cork man and folks want love between the Irish and German Catholics who were still split into a dozen principalities themselves?

        Maybe you had to be there. He did build St. Patrick’s which will be defiled next March thanks to Timmy Cardinal Dolan.

  • AnthonyMa

    Isn’t it grand for an English-American to be writing about how horrible the Irish Catholics were. The butcherings and torturings of his own people don’t get a mention. How many Irishmen and women in America have been murdered or raped by his beloved Negroes? I’m sure we’ll be seeing an article about all the attacks on American Catholics from this Episcopalian very soon. Maybe he should worry about the history of his own crowd before he starts going after someone else. He is, after all, a guest in the Catholic faith and should probably treat his hosts a little better.

  • Guest

    This makes hard reading, for it is far more tendentious than it need be. Much of the historical context is ignored. For a people to have overcome oppression and religious persecution in the old country, and then to encounter oppression, discrimination, and contempt in the new country, is a hard lot. The gratuitous contempt of latter-day aristocrats is insult heaped upon injury.

    • Kimberly

      “a people who so nobly loved and cherished the thought of liberty at home in Ireland become, willingly, the oppressors of another race.” – Frederick Douglas.
      You can’t argue with a former slave who knew some of the vilest oppression, discrimination, and contempt that the 19th century could throw at a man. Sadly discrimination and contempt against blacks in Ireland continues today (at least according to some homilies I’ve heard while visiting there.)

      • Idler

        “You can’t argue with a former slave…”

        Why not? Appealing to his authority is no more valid than his worthwhile than his appealing to the crowd’s vanity.

        Frederick Douglas’ was a politician and his opinion is no more valuable than any other man’s opinion.

      • Paddy

        Nonsense. Try vacationing in South Africa, Kimberly.

  • Kimberly

    Fascinating article Father Rutler. I learned about the draft riots in history class, but never in this much detail. My own Irish side of the family were from Hell’s Kitchen. My grandfather was born there 108 years ago, and his father moved the family out only a few years after that. Sounds like that was a good move!

  • publiusnj

    So Convert Rutler doesn’t like the Irish any more than J.G. Bennett did? I am not surprised given his strong anglophilia in other articles.

    I have more sympathy for “Dagger John” Hughes, though, having just returned from a visit “across the sea to Ireland.” Why wouldn’t the Irish of 1860s New York feel a need to defend their churches and to resist the impressment of their people given the Irish experience with the English Protestant forebears of the American Elite who had just visited on them the Potato Famine? Even today, the fruits of the Englishmen’s arrogance has left its evidence. All over Ireland English hatred of Catholicism has left the “bare ruined choirs” of dozens of Monasteries and broken down cathedrals that the Protestants had expropriated from the Catholics. One thing I learned was how the English were content to leave cathedrals like St. Patrick’s Dublin and Christchurch in near ruins until Disestablishment was almost upon “the Church of Ireland.” And should any Irishmen have risen in protest against the hate-filled Penal Laws, there was always impressment and shipping off onto the boats headed for Australia.

    Rutler doesn’t mention any of that because he would rather focus on the purported foibles of Irishmen, even though (or perhaps because?) so many of his colleagues (and superiors?) in the Church in New York are Irish American.

    • TommyD6of11

      I am an Irish Catholic American. I also consider Fr. Rutler a personal friend. He is a wise and meticulously fair man. If you know anything at all about him, then you know that he holds no one above criticism, including himself, including the English (for whom I agree he has a natural affinity), and including the clergy (read his excellent book Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-43).

      Bishop Hughes favored slavery of Blacks despite the near slavery of his own beloved Irish. Hughes was a race hustler of his day. Hughes, a Shepard of God, ignored the non-Irish of his flock. None of this makes me proud as an Irishman.

      But ultimately, you miss the obvious point of Rutler’s article.

      It is a allegory for today’s race hustlers. And just as today and yesterday, legitimate grievances do now justify evil.

      • publiusnj

        Converts can be AMONG the best Catholics, I suppose, but others among them often come with as many prejudices as Rutler has too. Calling Archbishop Hughes a “race hustler” is cheap theatrics as well as anachronistic. Did the New York Nativists do as good a job of cowing Catholics as Philadelphia’s nativists did? Perhaps not, but many people credit the very same Archbishop Hughes with the strength of the Catholic opposition to the NY Nativists. Indeed, they have made movies about that leadership.

        If Convert Rutler wants to make points about today’s race hustlers, he’d be better off talking about that pre-eminent representative of his prior Protestant Faith Tradition, Al Sharpton, rather than besmirching the reputation of someone long dead and highly revered, who did more for the NY Catholic Church than Rev. Rutler ever will.

        • John Albertson

          I do not see anywhere that Father Rutler (not “Convert Rutler”- or just “Rev. Rutler as you ungrammatically call him” ) ever
          called Archbishop Hughes a “race hustler.” He is too much a gentleman
          to do so. Do you know the meaning of the term “gentleman?” I suggest
          you read the the Definition of a Gentleman by Convert Newman. And i do
          not think that a long line of those who have served the Church in New
          York – beginning with Convert Elizabeth Ann Seton (New York’s only
          canonized saint) or Convert Orestes Brownson, or Convert Dorothy Day, or Convert Thomas Merton, would have thought themselves reared in the same “Protestant Faith Tradition” as Al Sharpton who was recently welcomed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Cardinal Dolan. Perhaps it is no coincidence that those “Converts” forsook the privileges of their social backgrounds and education to do much for the Church. Is it possible that your lack of perspective and charity is rooted in the grave sin of Envy?

          • publiusnj

            There are over 2.5 Million Catholics in the Archdiocese and the great bulk of them were born and bred in the Only Church Christ ever founded. Indeed, probably ten million or more born and bred Catholics have filled the overwhelming bulk of the pews for the past 206 years of the Church of New York’s existence. Moreover, our priests have been overwhelmingly Catholics born and bred, and the same with our bishops. Converts, in fact, represent but a drop in the bucket when it comes to the contributions made to the Archdiocese.

            While those who did convert may not see the connection between their “Episcopalianism” and Al Sharpton’s version of Protestantism, those of us lucky enough never to have had Protestantism inflicted on us know full well that Protestantism has many different manifestations but it still remains Protestantism. Indeed, Rutler’s own Episcopalianism can be tricked out in a multiplicity of flavors, as in High, Low, and Broad Church Episcopalianism. Indeed, I think there is even a separate episcopalianism called “Reformed Episcopalianism.” Likewise, the Reverend Sharpton’s Black Protestantism comes in a variety of denominations too such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the distinct African Methodist Episcopal Zionist Church to name just two, but all remain Protestantisms.

            And as to “Envy”–putting aside the obvious retort that that is just an illogical ad hominem–I will just note that there is no need to envy someone who throws in ugly and irrelevant asides (such as that Archbishop Hughes wore a toupee).

            • John Albertson

              Sometimes the truth hurts. Especially for those who live by myth rather than fact. Point to one statement in Father Rutler’s essay that is not accurate. One is surprised that you, having hurled such a cataract of insults in your comments, should object to anything as “ad hominem.” Both Father Rutler and his esteemed friend and great spokesman for the Church, Father Neuhaus, would have been bemused by your unsubtle refusal to call a convert priest Father. The breathtaking collapse of Catholicism in Ireland needs such men to remind that land of its heritage, for which both remarked respect and affection in their many writings. Cardinal Newman went as a missionary to Ireland. We need more like him now.

              • publiusnj

                On substance, as I have said, converts can be good Catholics. I am not here to judge the Reverend Rutler’s Catholicism, but he has shown himself in this article ready to use a group of irrelevant asides–such as the toupee innuendo– to cast doubt on whether the Archbishop’s speech had any effect on the ending of the riots. In truth, though, Rutler fails to address what the Archbishop said in the speech beyond noting that Hughes used the speech to jibe at his foes Greeley and Bennett. Rutler then goes off on another irrelevant aside by noting that–at some other point–Hughes had been wrong in calling Highland Scot J.G. Bennett “anti-Catholic” when he was instead anti-Irish. Although Rutler, having converted, might find anti-Catholicism a problem, he quoted Bennett’s anti-Irish remark–to celebrate [Catholic liturgy] properly among the “general run of New York Irish was like putting gold rings through a pig’s nose”–with no condemnation beyond the remark that it was unkind. In sum, Rutler never analyzed the speech in any meaningful way.

                Instead, Rutler uses the fact that the crowd “disbursed” at the conclusion of his speech (I think he probably meant “dispersed” because there is no evidence the crowd paid Hughes at the conclusion of the speech) to suggest that the speech was without impact on the rioting, even though the riots ended very shortly thereafter. That is his claim but he supported it with no real analysis.

                Rutler’s most recent book (which I have read, btw), is another place where he was very good at amassing a lot of unrelated data about the past, but then was very short on synthesis of that data. As I recall the book, he laid out unrelated incidents in a daily chronological format and then left them there with almost no analysis. When I read the book, I was disappointed and thought he had put together an interesting set of notes that could have led to an interesting book, but then forgot to go on and actually write the book.

                As to your defense of your exchange with me: it is mendacious for you–the same man who recently called Cardinal Dolan “boorish, clownish” and “a horse’s ass” in comments at NR OnLine–to defend your Envy ad hominem on the purported ground that I “hurled a cataract of insults” at the Reverend Rutler and therefore can be ad hominemed at will.

                • John Albertson

                  John Albertson

                  5 minutes ago

                  Some of my university colleagues -including one psychologist – have
                  been fascinated by the way you react when some long-cherished myths have been shattered by reality. First of all, speaking of grammar, you persist in the ungrammatical use of the style “Reverend.” Its use as a prefix with only a surname is a solecism, like writing “Honorable Eisenhower” instead of “Honorable Dwight D. Eisenhower.” Nor is it a form of spoken address, which would be like saying, “Hello Honorable Eisenhower.” Unfortunately, even some Catholic bishops make this mistake, as when they say “Hello Reverend Sharpton.” Unlike one spelling typo which you are careful to mention, you make this mistake repeatedly, even after it has been pointed out to you, so it cannot be mere oversight. It is a puzzle why you go into verbal gymnastics to avoid called a Catholic priest Father. Secondly, you address none of the criticisms of Hughes, including that of Frederick Douglass; indeed; you address none of the points in the article at all. Thirdly, you failto realize that envy is the sort of sin that, by its very nature, the envious have difficulty recognizing in themselves- just like bigotry.

                  • publiusnj

                    Because Commentor Albertson had mistakenly posted this reply originally as an independent comment above, my reply can be found there. And so this “donnybrook” (to use a term used with a sneer by the author, the Reverend Rutler, in the article) has moved on, as donnybrooks are wont to do.

              • Idler

                “The devil can quote scripture for his purpose.”

                The problem with the article is not the facts presented by Fr. Rutler but the conclusions that he draws from them. Much like a prosecutor who cherry picks facts to present a caricature of a defendant. And, given that this defendant is long dead, and unable to mount a defense, it is much more important for Fr. Rutler not drag the memory of a bishop of the Church through the mud.

      • Idler

        “PS – Converts often make the best Catholics. Their faith is one of mature choice and deep reflection.”

        As opposed to the rest of us who just memorized the Baltimore Catechism?

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon

    An gorta mor

    Dispossessed of their liberty, land, and food by Perfidious Albion, those sneaky Irish immigrated here and became draft evaders. (100 years later, the media would have loved them).

    The slayer of state sovereignty, Honest Abe Lincoln (He got his nickname for the same reason a 400 lb mobster gets the nickname, Tiny) promised in his first inaugural address that his only interest was in collecting the taxes of the south and that he had no authority to treat of slavery; that is, he didn’t give a fig about slavery but slavery since has been appointed as our national mortal sin (by those who do not believe in sin) and so one is left shaking his head at pieces such as these which continue to feed the myth that the War for Southern Independence was about slavery.

    I’ll side with the then Pope who sided with the last decent President, Jefferson Davis.

    O, and when do my people (irish) get reparations from Perfidious Albion?

    • Paddy

      Good thoughts here, but the GOP was formed as an anti-slavery party. Hughes had other fish to fry and knew sending Irishers off to war is rarely a good idea. He protected his flock, didn’t he?

  • Paddy

    Was the war even necessary? Hughes was right that a Thirteenth Amendment would be needed to end slavery but technology was to reduce the alleged need for slave labor.

    The Protestant leaders of abolition weren’t friendly to Catholics and were happy to give lower salaries to freed blacks as the Irish draftees headed to Bloody Lane and Little Round Top. General sentiments can be gleaned from comments in 1871 by the upper crust who wished that a 1000 rather than 60 or so Irish should have been been killed in the Orange Riot that started at 29th and 8th Ave….”The slaughter on 8th Avenue”.

    (Hughes’ warning about looking like Moscow seemed to work as city officials barred a meeting of nativists in NYC.)

    • Mighty Joe Young

      Only in these united states was war “necessary” to end slavery and that is beside the fact the war was not about slavery.

      O,and Fr. Neuhaus? He was the NeoCon’s shill as was he who created “Crisis.”

      But, far easier targets are the Irish. I do have to observe,though, that more and more Irish are learning that Black Legends include we Irish and many Iirsh write-backers on this thread are making me proud.

      I do want to write that I have long been an admirer of Fr Rutler

      • PADDY

        620,000 died in our Civil War. And, yes, it was about slavery. State rights was only another casualty.

        • Mighty Joe Young

          Paddy. Google Lincoln’s first inaugural address. The proximate cause of the war was tariffs.

          Lincoln was a collectivist;he was devoted to serving the railroad interest and other powers; he was a mercantilist who did not give a fig about negroes.

          If Lincoln was an abolitionist I am the Flying Spaghetti Monster and just a bit of research can set you free from these myths that are in service to an unjust war.

          Become an autodidact Paddy

        • Mighty Joe Young

          A civil war can only be said to have occured if two or more factions are fighting over who will control the country. The CSA did not want to control the country, they wanted the hell out of it.

          The Cause of the Civil War: Historian Thomas Fleming Discovers the “Yankee Problem in America”
          By Thomas DiLorenzo
          July 13, 2013

          Google it

          • Paddy

            Turn to your god, Google, but I respectfully disagree.

            The Republican Party was founded on a concept of “free labor, free land, free men”, It was noble but I think that technology would have ended slavery without the loss of life of hundreds of thousands of white men. The actual “freedom” of sharecropping was an illusion, too. This was a mistake, this American Civil War and Lincoln, no abolitionist himself, did not seek it out.

            I’ll only add that only two other brigades in the Union Army had higher casualties than the Irish Brigade after it departed from Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

            • Amateur Brain Surgeon

              Google is not my God but for autodidacts of a curious bent, it can be a useful tool to search a topic.

              I see your mind has already been concretised by myth, error, and denial.

              You could find out who Lincoln really was, what he really believed, what he really did, but for you, I guess a slogan is enough.

              Thanks for the exchange, Paddy

  • John Albertson

    Some of my university colleagues -including one psychologist – have
    been fascinated by the way you react when some long-cherished myths
    have been shattered by reality. First of all, speaking of grammar, you persist in the ungrammatical use of the style “Reverend.” Its use as a prefix with only a surname is a solecism, like writing “Honorable Eisenhower” instead of “Honorable Dwight D. Eisenhower.” Nor is it a form of spoken address, which would be like saying, “Hello Honorable Eisenhower.” Unfortunately, even some Catholic bishops make this mistake, as when they say “Hello Reverend Sharpton.” Unlike one spelling typo which you are careful to mention, you make this mistake repeatedly, even after it has been pointed out to you, so it cannot be mere oversight. It is a puzzle why you go into verbal gymnastics to avoid called a Catholic priest Father. Secondly, you address none of the criticisms of Hughes, including that of Frederick Douglass; indeed; you address none of the points in the article at all. Thirdly, you fail to realize that envy is the sort of sin that, by its very nature, the envious have difficulty recognizing in themselves- just like bigotry.

    • John Albertson

      Note: this is in reply to commentator “publiusnj”

      • publiusnj

        See comment below on how this new publiusnj-albertson stream is taking over from the exchange below.

    • publiusnj

      In fact, the Reverend Rutler didn’t make a “spelling error;” he used the wrong word (“disbursed” does not mean the same thing as “dispersed.” Indeed, it doesn’t even have the same roots). Rutler’s mistake was equivalent to confusing “affect” and “effect.” So much for Rutler’s supposed erudition.

      Also: your claim that I engaged in an ungrammatical use in the term “Reverend Rutler” ignores the fact that I was applying to him (somewhat tongue in cheek, btw) the same honorific that the Reverend Sharpton is usually accorded. I think most readers would understand that. Notice too that I didn’t make any “hair jokes” about either Rutler or Sharpton even though Rutler had slipped in his utterly irrelevant reference to the Archbishop’s toupee.

      Speaking of ungrammatical uses: you committed a much less questionable ungrammatical use in this phrase: ”
      to avoid called a Catholic priest Father.” Moral? People in glass houses….

      Even though you claim that I didn’t address Rutler’s points about Hughes, I did by showing that Rutler failed to make his case. Instead, he amassed little trinkets of trivia about Hughes that purported to demean Hughes (e.g., the toupee and Hughes’s error on Bennett’s religion) but which didn’t make Rutler’s supposed point that Hughes had not been a key figure in ending the riots. As I also noted, Rutler’s writing style is that of an antiquarian who collects disjointed historical trivia that he then lays out without much synthesis. He did that in his most recent book and he did so again in this article.

      All to trot out a quote from that most vicious of anti-Catholics, Lord Macaulay, as the article’s punchline. Of all people: Thomas Macaulay! Rutler apparently still has a tin ear about anti-Catholicism despite his 35 or so years in the Church.

  • Mighty Joe Young

    The great famine in Ireland was a lot like the great famine in Ukraine in that is was genocide; that is, its cause can not be rightly attributed to any natural disaster but to the malign religious/ideological intent of those who had the power of life and death over those poor people of Faith.

    Virtually every other country in the west ended slavery peacefully except for these United States and slavery could have ended peacefully here were it not for the collectivists then in political power.

    There was no just cause to wage a war against the secession of states in favor Southern Independence for what the south did was replicate America’s secession from England.

    It just seems odd to condemn those who fought against a draft which was instituted for an unjust war but, we Americans do love unjust wars and erecting huge monuments to war criminals

    • Paddy

      Who are these war criminals? I will agree that the RCC needs to upgrade it’s protection for citizens…including soldiers… who find so many of our wars morally unjust. It does a crummy job of that, to be sure.

      England’s unforgivable sin is that it exported food from Eire during the Famine.

  • Cha5678

    Great piece. However, I think it would serve well to explain how the trustee system that found episcopal support in New York helped Americanize the faith, including the justifications for slavery. Also, to consider was the role that some early southern bishops took to befriend Protestant political leaders. These friendships provided for social standing, rich converts, and teaching side-jobs to supplement the meager Sunday collections from their small flocks. This set the tone for bishop-state relations for decades, indeed even providing ripe home for Gibbons, Hecker and the Americanism heresy.

  • Malcolm

    There was no “famine” in Ireland; there was enforced starvation of the peasantry. Except for the potatoes, agricultural production continued, and continued to be exported under bayonets to England .

    • Paddy

      Well said!

  • Rosemary58

    Your parish is called Hell’s Kitchen, Fr. Rutler? So what’s cookin’?

    Anyway, a great article but I would have loved to see footnotes.

    Would you mind writing a play about the situation between Hughes and DuBois?
    Do you think we are due for a non-Irish archbishop? Soon, I hope!

    • flourgiggy

      My question to you, Rosemary: Are you suggesting that when the church chooses the next bishop for the New York Archdiocese, “no Irish need apply?”

      • Rosemary58

        Golly, Miss Flourgiggy! Are you suggesting that ONLY those of Irish heritage may apply?

        • flourgiggy

          How silly of you. From where did you infer that suggestion? No such thing was implied.

          • Rosemary58

            Dunno, but NINA might be a good idea after all, in this case. Maybe just every couple of hundred years or so.

  • Paddy

    With some 15,000 pro-Anglo Orangemen marching in Scotland and Paisley gone to his eternal…predestined… reward, the learned Fr. Rutler’s thoughts on the Orange Lodges and Freemasonry would be exciting in the context of being a Catholic in 2014.

  • wc4mitt

    An interesting piece re this era -you might look into the history Venerable Msgr. Nelson Baker of Lackawanna NY fame who built the magnificent Our Lady of Victory Basilica. Prior to becoming a priest he served as a Northern Soldier during the Civil War and in particular in putting down the 1863 Draft Riots in NYC. Why is it that everyone in NYC believes that it is representative of NY State? It would be very interesting to help canonize a NY priest who rightly deserves canonization since he was the American “Blessed Mother Teresa” years before she actually was known.

    NYC doesn’t represent the whole of NY State by a large measure. Most of the ‘saints’ of NY actually are found in upper and western NY State.

  • John Albertson

    I don’t think that Archbishop Hughes was the main focus of Fr Rutler’s essay, but the reaction to it from some readers is revealing. I would guess that they long thought that the Kennedys were heroes too. As the truth comes out and the idols are smashed by reality, there is a tendency to blame the truth tellers.