Bishop John Hughes, The Public School Society, and the School Question of the 1840s
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The author examines the question of religious and ethnic assimilation. With every new wave of immigrants to the United States, there are always worries regarding whether or not that particular community is going to be able to assimilate properly into the majority culture, as well as whether or not that group is going to add to the current discourse and identity that already exists in regards to the definition of American society. This was certainly the case with the Catholic experience in the United States. One of the strongest examples of anti-Catholic prejudice in the United States was the controversy during the 1840s and 1850s surrounding the existence of parochial schools and the issues of program funding. Many Protestants viewed these schools as centers for potential propaganda and anti-American sentiments, as well as just another way of the Catholic community to not integrate into regular American society and culture. The subject of this paper deals with the conflict surrounding the catholic school controversy in New York City, and specifically the discourse between the Public School Society and Bishop John Hughes on school funding. Through viewing this controversy one can attempt to understand a particular example of both the reasons behind anti-Catholic prejudice as well as the difficulties that the Catholics faced living during the mid-nineteenth century as well as its relevance today.
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