Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Joshua Piker

Committee Member

Paul W. Mapp

Committee Member

Guillaume Aubert


Although historians have long understood the importance of France to the institutional development of the Catholic Church in British North America, this portfolio is an attempt to demonstrate the significant role played by the Francophone world in shaping a distinctly American Catholicism in the United States. It does so by looking at two moments in the history of the American republic. The first is the attitude of the Continental Congress toward Quebec, which culminated in the invasion of Canada in 1775. In their attempt to sway Canada to the Patriot cause, Congress slowly reconciled themselves to guarantee religious liberty to the Roman Catholic Quebecois. Congress also included two Catholic Marylanders, John Carroll and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, in its Commission to Canada, which sought in vain to gain Quebecois’ support for the invasion. Although the Commission failed in its goals, it was nevertheless an important moment in trajectory of religious toleration in the emerging American republic and it opened opportunities for Roman Catholics such as the Carrolls to gain greater participation in civil government. The second paper adds to the scholarship on the significance of the French Revolution on American Catholicism. Whereas most of the literature on this topic focuses on the immigration of priests, women religious, and devout laypersons from France to the United States, this essay argues that the French Revolution was central to Bishop John Carroll’s evolving understanding of republicanism, secular government, church-state relations, and, crucially, his beliefs about the direction of providential history at the moment in which Carroll was organizing his see.



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