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The destructive force of Roman Catholicism Prior 1776 and After. Part Two

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BEFORE THE American Revolution, Roman Catholics were barred from voting or holding public office throughout the British colonies. They were a persecuted minority everywhere but in the proprietary domain of William Penn (Pennsylvania and Delaware). Some of their most energetic persecutors, in fact, were the very Huguenots whom the Catholics had chased out of France in the wake of Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The basis of Roman Catholic persecution was political.  Catholics owed allegiance to Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome was a foreign ruler who, as a matter of public policy, regarded the British king and his Protestant Church as heretics to be destroyed. From the American colonists' standpoint, to allow Catholics to vote or hold office was tantamount to surrendering their colonies to a foreign conqueror.  A crucial part of maintaining personal liberty in Protestant colonial America was keeping Roman Catholics out of government. But then came the Revolution. The colonial citizenry fought for and won their independence from Great Britain. Of the 2,500,000 enumerated inhabitants in 1 7 8 7 America, the Roman Catholic population consisted of no more than 16,000 in Maryland, 7,000 in Pennsylvania, 1,500 in N ew York, and 200 in Virginia.1 Once the Constitution was in place, a steady influx of European immigrants transformed Roman Catholicism from America's smallest to largest religious denomination. By 1850, the higher powers at Rome could view the United States as a viable tributary, if not another papal state.

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