Boston in 1790

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XVIII (9) start of chapter

Father Whelan had served in a French ship belonging to the fleet of Admiral De Grasse, who was engaged in assisting the cause of American independence; and at the close of the war he selected America as the theatre of his missionary zeal, and became 'the first regularly settled priest in the city of New York.'

By the aid of another letter from the same pen, quoted by Dr. White in his 'Sketch,' we have a glimpse at the state of things at Boston in the year 1790. The description of the feeling of hatred and horror created by 'scandalous misrepresentation' applies, as the reader will have reason to judge, to a period even more than half a century later, and to many parts of America. The name of Carroll was inseparably associated with the successful revolution. When Charles Carroll signed his name to the Declaration of Independence, and added 'of Carrollton,' to his signature, Benjamin Franklin exclaimed—'There goes a cool million!' The new Bishop was therefore certain of being received with distinction even in the capital of the Massachusetts of that day.

It is wonderful (he writes) to tell what great civilities have been done to me in this town, where, a few years ago, a 'Papist priest' was thought to be the grossest monster in the creation. Many here, even of their principal people, have acknowledged to me, that they would have crossed to the opposite side of the street rather than meet a Roman Catholic some time ago. The horror which was associated with the idea of a Papist is incredible; and the scandalous misrepresentations by their ministers increased the horror every Sunday. If all the Catholics here were united, their numbers would be about one hundred and twenty.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

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