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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Catholic Historical Review
Vol. 9 No. 1 (Apr. 1923), pp103‑122

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p103 The United States at the Court of Pius IX1

President Polk, in his annual message to Congress, December 7, 1847, said:

The Secretary of State has submitted an estimate to defray the expense of opening diplomatic relations with the Papal States. The interesting political events now in progress in these States, as well as a just regard to our commercial interests, have, in my opinion, rendered such a measure highly expedient.2

The "interesting political events" then in progress were the conflicting movements of Mazzini and of the King of Sardinia for the unification of Italy, and the efforts of Pius IX to introduce wise and judicious reforms looking to the establishment of a constitutional government in his possessions.

The commercial interests referred to in the President's message were in posse rather than in esse. American consuls had represented American interests at Rome and elsewhere in the Papal States since 1797;3 but so negligible was the commerce between the two countries, as reflected in the fees of that office, that the consular representatives complained again and again that they could not subsist on the income of their post. But among the proposed reforms of Pius IX was the formation of a commercial league, of the nature of the German Zollverein, which should combine the activity and competition of the separate states with the power and prosperity of national p104unity. It was desired to conclude commercial treaties with this league when organized, or with the Papal States separately so as to increase our trade in tobacco and to substitute the United States for England in their purchase of salt-fish, cotton, and other imports.4 Unfortunately, throughout practically the entire period of the American mission to Rome, the din of war and popular political agitation made it impossible to enter into commercial arrangements with a government threatened in its very existence.

In accordance with the recommendation of President Polk, the deficiency appropriations bill of that session carried items providing for an outfit and the salary of a chargé at the court of Rome. These items were retained, although they were subjected to prolonged and bitter debate which was featured by a lengthy speech by Representative Lewis C. Levin, of Pennsylvania, from every sentence of which dripped anti-Catholic venom and bigotry.5

The diplomatic relations between the United States and the States of the Church covered a period of twenty years and, with two exceptions, the matters arising between the two governments were for the most part episodes that called for no sustained, p105uniform policy on the part of either.6 These exceptions were the attitude of the United States towards the Papal States during the political changes in the latter country, especially in the late forties and sixties, and the position of the Holy See towards the Federal government during the American Civil War, when the Confederacy and its sympathizers made continuous but futile efforts to secure the recognition of the Holy Father.

If any general statement can be made of the principle that was to govern the United States in its entire relationship with the Roman government, it is to be found in Secretary Buchanan's earliest instruction to Jacob L. Martin who, on April 1, 1848, was appointed first chargé.

There is one consideration [he wrote] which you ought always to keep in view in your intercourse with the Papal States. Most if not all the governments which have diplomatic representatives at Rome are connected with the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. In this respect the government of the United States occupies an entirely different position. It possesses no power whatever over the question of religion. All denominations of Christians stand on the same footing in its country, and every man enjoys the inestimable right of worshipping his God according to the dictates of his own conscience. Your efforts, therefore, will be devoted exclusively to the cultivation of the most friendly civil relations with the papal government and to the extension of commerce between the two countries. You will carefully avoid even the appearance of interfering in ecclesiastical questions whether these relate to the United States or any other portion of the world.7

p106 It was suggested that the chargé make these views known to the papal government on some suitable occasion, so that there might be no mistake or misunderstanding. This necessity of distinguishing between the spiritual and temporal powers of the Pope was emphasized again and again in the instructions to the American ministers.

Before Martin left Paris, en route to Rome, he was waited upon by several agents of the republican party of Italy, who urged him to manifest sympathy for their cause, and to visit Milan on his way, that the presence of the representative of the great American republic might be turned to account.8 But Martin continued at once to Rome where, because of political agitation and threatened revolt, he was not received by His Holiness until August 19. On this occasion Pius assured the chargé of the great pleasure it gave him to enter into diplomatic relations with a country for which he had so high a regard, and expressed his warm satisfaction of the state of the Church in the United States and of the high character of its clergy. He alluded to his efforts to introduce liberal reforms into his possessions and to the difficulties which he encountered, observing that it required prudence and patience to prepare the people for an order of things to which they had not been accustomed. During this interview Martin was impressed "vividly with that benevolence of character and gentleness of demeanor for which Pius IX is proverbial."9

Martin did not live long to serve his country at the court of Rome: that same summer he fell a victim to the Roman fever.10 His sole despatch from the seat of his mission shows an insight into the perplexed political situation there existing, an appreciation of the Pope's difficulties in carrying out his programme of reform in the face of impatient misunderstanding and lack of reciprocal generosity, and a sympathetic interpretation of the p107power and influence of the Church, that is exceptional. For throughout the period of struggle for Italian independence and unity, the personal sympathies of the American representatives at Rome very naturally went out to the liberal and revolutionary elements in the country. The blessings of freedom and liberty in their own country were too happily contrasted with the political absolutism of European nations at the time. At heart they hoped for the success of the popular movements, but on the whole their despatches show restraint and a spirit of neutrality through which only occasionally their real feelings are displayed. "Whilst our established policy renders it impossible that we should interfere with the forms of government or the domestic institutions of other independent states," wrote Buchanan to Martin, "the American people can never be indifferent to the cause of constitutional freedom and liberal reform in any part of the world."11 "Putting aside the religious view," replied Martin, "the papacy is not only a great, but a venerable fact, around which the shadows of nearly twenty centuries gather in awful array; which has witnessed the rise and fall of many empires, which has survived thrones and principalities and powers. Young liberty should not exhaust her efforts against this rock of ages. . . . The alliance of freedom and religion were wiser than their conflict. . . . Sincere men, not unfriendly to freedom, think that it would have been wiser to leave power for some time longer in the hands of the Pope who was effecting many important reforms and gradually preparing the people for the practice of constitutional government."12

Martin was succeeded by Lewis Cass, Jr., who served until 1858 and who, in 1854, was elevated to the rank of Minister Resident.13 Before the new chargé arrived at his post, April 2, 1849, a republican form of government had been set up in Rome, and the Holy Father had withdrawn to Gaeta within the territories of the King of Naples. Nicholas Brown, the American consul, who was in charge of the legation when the official proclamation p108of the republic was received, lost no time in tendering to the new nation his warmest congratulations, and gave assurances that his government would "take the earliest opportunity to recognize that of Rome in the most satisfactory manner." "So deeply rooted in every American heart (is) the love of liberty," he said, "that the Nation will at once hail with joy the Independence of the Roman Republic long before their diplomatic agents can have time in due official form to give expression to the generous sentiments of their constituency."14 But in spite of Brown's frequent urgings upon his home government to extend recognition, in spite of his statement that "the papacy is fallen, morallyº fallen, forever,"15 Buchanan's instructions to Cass, February 16, 1849, showed less eagerness. The Secretary stated that while it was the constant policy and practice of the country to recognize existing governments without inquiring into their legitimacy, yet such governments must first give evidence of their will and their power to maintain independence; and this, he thought, could not be asserted in regard to the existing government at Rome. "Its recent origin," he continued, "and the almost insuperable difficulties by which it is surrounded, render it extremely doubtful whether it will be able to maintain itself."16 Cass was told to proceed to Rome in order to gather all the information obtainable, but to withhold his letter of credence until he should receive further instructions.17 Cass himself doubted if a republic could exist for any length of time in Italy. The underlying reason, in his judgment, was the inability of that country to settle her disputes without foreign aid. And in the schemings of European powers regarding Italy, he thought the spiritual office of the Pope was used to a great extent as a pretext. "The real question," he was persuaded, "was to prevent in Italy the development of democratic principles, and to maintain the supremacy of Austria." "Revolution has almost everywhere compromised itself by acts of the greatest barbarity. It would really seem, in many instances p109which have come under my own observation, as if the people were bent on making democracy appear ridiculous. . . ."18

Recognition of the new republic had not been accorded by any foreign government. On the contrary, the diplomatic body accredited to the Holy See accompanied the Pope in his flight to Gaeta, where it remained in attendance upon his court. In an effort to secure the strength which recognition on the part of the United States would give the republic, Cass was importuned by Mazzini and others to present his credentials and establish diplomatic relations with the provisional government. Dinners, seats at the opera, and other civilities were offered to him in abundance, but he declined them all.19 On the other hand, the Prussian minister and the secretary of the French legation came to Rome, ostensibly for the purpose of prosecuting some private business but manifestly to dissuade the American chargé from presenting his credentials to the party in power. Intervention, they declared, was unavoidable and necessary for the peace of Europe by arresting the factious spirit which under the name of democracy was doing so much evil; they therefore expected the speedy restoration of the Pope.20

Later, Cass was requested by the Prince of Canino, then representing the ministry, to solicit an interview with the commanding officer of the French, who had arrived at Civita Vecchia for the purpose of intervention, and to submit to him the ultimatum of the government. This demanded an armistice of fifteen days, within which period the question of the restoration of the Holy Father was to be submitted to the vote of the people. If the question were answered in the affirmative, the constitution would be changed accordingly, and the French should withdraw from Roman territory. The alternative was war. Cass, believing that the motive of this request was to create the impression that the United States favored the republican cause, refused to act as bearer of the message, giving as his reason that having no official character, the French commander might justly regard his mission as an act of impertinent p110interference.21 During the course of later negotiations between the contending parties, the American representative was again urged to appear as the representative of the Roman republic, but, although the French joined in the request, he felt it his duty to decline.22 The political situation appeared to be growing more complicated and uncertain, so that the Department of State finally left it to the discretion of the chargé to present his credentials to the provisional government, or to withhold them some time longer.23

On July 3, 1849, the French army entered Rome. A few days after the collapse of the republic, some French soldiers entered the residence of Brown, the United States consul, frightened his wife by the drawing of swords, and carried off with them two Italians who had taken refuge on the roof. It appeared in the course of the investigation which followed the complaints of Cass, that two of Brown's servants had that day repeatedly insured the soldiers while passing, and that an individual among the crowd that had gathered in front of the consul's house had drawn a poniard upon the guard. The patrol, not knowing the character of the house until they were retiring, entered and made prisoners the guilty individuals. Complete apology was made to the consul, and the prisoners were released.24

On April 12, 1850, Pius IX, accompanied by the College of Cardinals, returned from Gaeta. He was met at one of the principal gates of Rome by the diplomatic corps and others, and proceeded to the church of St. John in the Wildernessa where a Te Deum was sung, thence to St. Peter's where the ceremony was repeated.25 Cass had his first audience with the Pope, p111April 19, on which occasion the Holy Father "adverted with much feeling to the expressions of sympathy and the contributions of pecuniary assistance which he had received from citizens of the United States, members of the Catholic Church, during the late events."26

Cass was succeeded, in July, 1858, by John P. Stockton.27 When the new minister arrived at Rome, the final movement which was to lead to the unification of Italy was well under way. Soon the Romagna, including the important city of Bologna, was lost to the Papal States, and within the brief space of two years, through the defection of the people, the intervention of Napoleon III, the diplomacy of Cavour, and the campaign of Garibaldi, the Holy Father had lost all his temporal possessions but the territory of Rome.

During the revolution in Perugia, the papal guards were fired upon from the windows and roof of the hotel where were stopping an American family by the name of Perkins. The soldiers entered the building, and found the Americans concealed in a closet. The patrol claimed they offered no indignity to the visitors, but withdrew after returning a coin found on the carpet and refusing a purse offered by Perkins. The latter maintained that the soldiers threatened with drawn swords. During the confusion, the hotel was pillaged and the jewelry, money, and clothing of the guests were carried off. Stockton demanded the immediate arrest and punishment of the guilty ones, and the restitution of the value of the articles taken, amounting to $2425, to which sum Stockton added 1000 scudi for incidental damages. The papal authorities contested the facts as stated by Perkins, but made prompt settlement in full, protesting, however, that the Americans had taken no precautions to place themselves in safety. Stockton thought it best not to discuss the question of facts, contenting himself with the plea that Perkins had the right to rely upon the principle of international law, that he who promises security by a passport is bound to afford it.28 The p112position was approved by the American Secretary who wrote that the promptness of Cardinal Antonelli in acceding to it closed a grave transaction which might have involved the two governments in serious misunderstanding.29

A few months later, in March, 1860, the political situation provoked another incident which haplyº was settled without ill-feeling on either side. During the course of a band concert on the Piazza Colonna, some persons began to hiss the papal guards, whereupon, an order was given by the French commander to clear the square. The soldiers continued to drive the people up the Corso. It happened that the American consul, Glentworth, was just then passing from his door to a carriage. He was assaulted and menaced by a guard with a drawn sword, and believed he owed his life to the interposition of a French officer who was with him. A short distance above the consulate, two Americans were also assaulted, one of them being cut on the brow. These acts were at once disavowed on the part of the government, and full apology were made. In view of the belief that no one intended to injure the Americans, as such, since among the wounded were two French officers in citizen dress, and a relative of the French commander, Stockton felt, after so prompt and full disclaimer on the part of the papal authorities, that to make pecuniary demand would be taking low ground, and would be putting the United States in the light of demanding a few dollars for the healing of national honor.30

After the entry of Victor Emanuel into Naples on November 7, 1860, the royal family arrived in Rome.31 Subsequently, p113Count Frappani, uncle of the King of Naples, called at the American embassy with the request of the king that the U. S. steamer, Iroquois, then at the port of Rome, carry an officer with a despatch which would terminate hostilities, save the city of Messina from destruction, and prevent the useless sacrifice of life. Stockton urged Captain Palmer to accede to the request, but the commander refused to divert his vessel from his orders, especially in view of the fact that there were steamers running to Naples, that the papal vessel, Immaculate Conception, was in the harbor, as well as a French man-of‑war. Stockton pointed out that connection by packet was slow and uncertain, and that the King of Naples thought the American ship the safest and speediest. Although the minister pledged himself to assume full responsibility, Palmer still refused, and the despatch was entrusted to the French man-of‑war which, however, broke a rudder and could not leave. Palmer was again appealed to on the ground that if history should record the destruction of Messina, it would also record the fact that the fastest ship in the Mediterranean, and belonging to the United States, was lying idly by, and refused to carry an order of mercy which would have prevented the catastrophe. The American commander remained obdurate, and the despatch, consenting to make terms, did not arrive until after two days of useless fighting.32

On April 2, 1861, Stockton asked for his recall, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Rufus King was appointed to succeed him.33 Seward, in his instructions to the new minister, pointed out that the government of the Holy Father was surrounded by political revolution, while the United States was also on the verge of a civil war. King was to assure the papal government that the United States would not violate the friendship of the two countries by any intervention in the domestic affairs of the States of the Church; and that the government of the United States could not ask more, nor was it believed that the papal government p114would propose to do less.34 In the meantime, King, having accepted the appointment of brigadier-general in the Federal volunteer army, resigned his commission to Rome,35 and the above instructions were presented by Stockton.36 Antonelli, in his final audience with the retiring minister, assured him that the Catholics of the United States would take no part in the Civil War as Catholics; as citizens he had no doubt they would all feel great concern in the country's internal dissensions.37

Alexander W. Randall, the next minister, very soon after his arrival at Rome, wrote he was not fitted for the position. He declared he was unaccustomed to and disliked the formalities and ceremonies of court; that he understood neither Italian, French, nor German, and was therefore liable to be imposed upon; and that he was not versed in the history of European politics, a knowledge of which he deemed necessary in such a position.38 Randall was succeeded in August, 1862, by Richard M. Blatchford.39 Blatchford remained until October, 1863, when Rufus King was, for the second time, appointed minister to Rome.40

When Venetia was added to the Italian kingdom in 1866, and it was evident that it was only a question of time when the occupation p115of the remaining territory of Rome would make the unification of Italy complete, Seward instructed King as follows:

Should the sovereignty at Rome undergo a revolutionary change, you will suspend the exercise of diplomatic functions within the territory in which a new government shall have been established. Should the present government remove and take up a residence in any other place, whether in or out of Italy, you will not be expected to follow it until the case, as it shall then exist, shall have received the attention of the President. . . . In the case of such removal, you will either remain at Rome, or take up your temporary residence in some adjacent country, as your discretion shall seem expedient.41

When the protection of the French was about to be withdrawn, the Holy Father remarked to the American minister that "the poor pope will be left all alone in his little boat, in the midst of the tempestuous ocean."42 It was generally believed that when this time should come, the Pope would leave Rome to take up his residence elsewhere. There were many rumors and much speculation on the subject.43 Cardinal Antonelli and other officials of the papal government intimated to King that the presence of an American war vessel at Rome was desirable, and that if Pius IX was compelled to abandon Rome, he might seek a refuge in the United States.44 General Kanzler, minister of war, and Monsignor Nadi, domestic chaplain to the Pope, each expressed very explicitly the opinion that the only country in which the Holy Father could find a secure and suitable asylum was America. Pope Pius himself, more than once, expressed p116this same sentiment.45 Kanzler was eager for the Holy Father to take this course, and asked King how the United States would regard such action. King replied that his country "was the home of civil and religious liberty as well as a refuge of all who fled from political or other troubles in the old world, and that His Holiness, should he see fit to go to the United States, would no doubt meet with a kind welcome and be left to pursue, unquestioned and unmolested, his great work as Head of the Catholic Church."46 Under these circumstances, and after consultation with Gustavus V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who was then in Rome, King telegraphed to Minister Harvey at Lisbon, asking him to inform Admiral Goldsborough that important matters called for the immediate presence of one of his vessels at Civita Vecchia, the port of Rome.47 The Swatara was sent. Seward approved the minister's course, but thought it would be indiscreet and disrespectful to the Pope, in the absence of more definite information, to assume that it was in his mind to come to America. "While it is sometimes desirable to anticipate possible emergencies in foreign affairs," he wrote, "this can seldom be done without danger of departure from the fixed national principles and habits of neutrality."48 There was no American minister at Rome when the city was occupied by the forces of Victor Emmanuel.

The official relations of the United States with the Holy See during the American Civil War were subjected to much disturbing pressure, but the papal government never wavered in its spirit of loyalty to the Federal government. In his first audience with Pope Pius, June 6, 1862, Randall alluded to the services of Archbishop Hughesb in behalf of the Union, because an effort had been made to impress the papal authorities that the archbishop had injured the cause of his Church by consenting to mix in political matters. The Pope expressed pride in the thought that at a most critical moment Hughes had been singled out by p117his country to be entrusted with such an important mission.49 To Blatchford, the Holy Father indirectly proposed mediation, by saying that any such proposal, to be accepted, should be tendered by a power so unimportant as to irritate neither the pride nor the sensitiveness of the American nation; that it should be offered by some smaller country that had no interest in diminishing the power of the American government, a country that had neither army nor navy, and whose very humbleness made the offer of her services acceptable. He then added that he had only a few battalions of soldiers and no navy except a single corvette, which was then useless.50

Antonelli told the same minister that if he had the honor to be an American citizen, he would do everything in his power to preserve the nation undivided;51 to King he expressed the conviction that the Confederate States had sought an unconstitutional remedy;52 and to Stillman, the United States consul, he said there was but one course for the government to pursue, that it could only act as it had acted, and could only treat with the South on submission.53 The Holy Father remarked to King that much as he deprecated the war, he could never lend any sanction to the system of African slavery.54

In 1863, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jefferson Davis sent to the Pope through A. Dudley Mann who, with Slidell, Mason, and others, was sent abroad to secure the recognition of the Confederate States by European powers, a letter of thanks for the feeling shown by His Holiness in certain open communications to the Archbishops of New York and New Orleans, urging all possible efforts towards the restoration of peace.55 Mann had several interviews with Antonelli56 p118and, on November 14, was received in audience by Pius IX. Of this incident, Mann wrote:

How strikingly majestic the conduct of the government of the Pontifical States in its bearing towards me, when contrasted with the sneaking subterfuges to which some of the governments of Western Europe have had recourse in order to evade intercourse with our commissioners!57

In December, the Pope wrote a reply to President Davis which Mann accepted as a positive recognition of the Confederate government, and at once sent his congratulations to Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate secretary of state, and to all his "countrymen and countrywomen, upon this benign event."58 How many of the other leaders of the Confederacy interpreted the Pope's letter in the same light as did Mann, is not known. Mr. Davis left no official statement of his opinion on the subject. Slidell did not think it "worth while publishing;"59 and Secretary Benjamin replied to Mann that as a recognition of the Confederacy, the letter was of little value, and that the Holy Father's address of Mr. Davis as "President of the Confederate States" was merely a formula of courtesy to his correspondent, and not a political acknowledgment of the fact.60 That this latter interpretation of the letter was correct is shown by several statements made to King by Antonelli, in which it was made emphatic that the action of the Sovereign Pontiff was free from all political design, and was intended merely as an expression p119of his wish for the restoration of peace.61 The Federal government never thought otherwise.62

In 1864 Bishop Lynch, of Charleston, was appointed a commissioner of the Confederate States to the Holy See. He was instructed to press for recognition if that seemed possible, otherwise to maintain such informal relations as might prove fruitful. Combining the advantages of ecclesiastical and political position, his presence at Rome, the centre of the Pope's influence, was thought to offer unusual opportunities of molding foreign public opinion, through contact with the papal authorities and the representatives of the Catholic powers of Europe.63

After brief stops at Bermuda and Halifax, Bishop Lynch went first to Ireland, to investigate the causes of increased emigration to America, and to examine into the charges that Irish laborers were being induced by the North to come to the United States, ostensibly for employment in the building of railroads, but actually for service in the Federal army.64 Father John Bannon, who had served as Confederate chaplain under General Price in Missouri, had previously been sent to that country for that purpose, and was most active in spreading the story of the slaughter of Meagher's Irish Brigade, in disseminating the notion that Irish emigrants were at once conscripted in the Federal armies and assigned to the most perilous positions; in attempting to show that the North had never been so friendly to the Church as was the South, in proof of which he cited the numerous burnings of church property and the outbreaks of Native American and Know-Nothing days.65 Bannon's mission was not without results, for the clergy of Ireland protested to p120the Vatican that the North was "using up the Irish in the war like dogs."66

At Paris, Bishop Lynch had interviews with the papal nuncio, the foreign secretary, and with the emperor, after which he proceeded to Rome. But the Confederate commissioner, although a bishop, received neither encouragement nor recognition from the papal authorities. He was received at the Vatican, as Antonelli assured King, only in his episcopal position, and never as an accredited representative of Davis or the Confederacy.67 After the war Lynch applied to the American minister to learn upon what conditions he would be allowed to return to South Carolina. He was told first to take the oath of allegiance and to make his peace with the Federal government. This he was ready and willing to do, but he feared that he would be held to account for his actions as an avowed Confederate agent. He left Rome for Havana, from which place he expected to make his appeal to the Federal authorities. "I judge," wrote King, "that Bishop Lynch is effectually cured of his secession."68 Cardinal Antonelli, commenting upon the bishop's situation, said that like every other good Catholic resident in the United States, it was his bounden duty to honor, respect, and obey the constituted authority of the government under whose protection he lived.69

After the assassination of President Lincoln, John H. Surratt, who was accused of implication in the conspiracy to murder the President, made his escape, by way of Canada and England, to Rome, where he enlisted in the Papal Zouaves under the name of "Watson." There he was recognized by H. B. Ste. Marie, a Canadian, also in the papal guards, who reported the matter to the American minister. King was instructed to verify the charge; to ask the Cardinal Secretary if, in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries, the Holy Father would be willing to deliver Surratt upon authentic indictment p121and at the request of the American government; and to request the papal government that neither Surratt nor his informer be discharged from the guards until further communication on the subject could be made.70 The wishes of the United States government were readily agreed to by the papal authorities who, acting on their own initiative, confined Surratt until definite instructions should be received from Washington. Surratt made his escape from the prison, narrowly missed death by leaping from a high precipice, made his way to Naples, but was later captured at Alexandria and brought back to the United States. His subsequent trial ended in the disagreement of the jury.71

In 1867 the American mission to Rome came to an official end, but through no fault or action of the papal government. Acting under the erroneous belief that the American Protestant Church had been ordered outside the walls of Rome, Congress, in spite of the emphatic denials of the American minister, refused to continue the appropriation for the legation.72 The facts in the case, as reported by King, were as follows. In the beginning, services were held in the minister's house, which custom was thoroughly in accord with diplomatic rights and custom. As the number of Protestant visitors to Rome increased, the available room in the minister's quarters became inadequate for this purpose, and an apartment outside the legation was rented, where services were continued regularly and without interruption. In the meantime, the English Church was ordered outside the walls, and the Scottish Church, after its division, was also required to leave the city proper.

King, to guard against any such action in the case of the American Church, had the arms of the legation placed over the building in which services were held. King insisted that this arrangement was satisfactory to the papal authorities, who permitted it in the case of the American Church alone, in order to show the good feelings of the government towards the p122United States. Although the American minister emphatically denied the statements made in Congress, and maintained that only in the event of the closing of the legation would the American Church be forced to leave the city, in which case the cause of the removal must be laid to Congress and not to the Holy See, the former refused to be convinced, possibly, as King intimated, because the way was being cleared for early recognition of the government of Victor Emmanuel.73

Leo Francis Stock, Ph.D.

The Catholic University of America,

Washington, D. C.


The Author's Notes:

1 Read at the meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association, New Haven, Conn., Dec. 29, 1922.

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2 Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents (Washington, 1897), IV.551.

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3 These consuls, in the order of their appointment, were as follows: John B. Sartori, Felix Cicognani, George W. Greene, grandson of Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary fame; Nicholas Brown, William C. Sanders, Daniel LeRoy, Horatio de V. Glentworth, William Dean Howells, who accepted the appointment but never served; W. J. Stillman, Edwin C. Cushman, and David M. Armstrong, who remained as first consul to the kingdom of Italy. There were American consuls also at Civita Vecchia, the port of entrance to Rome, at Ancona on the Adriatic, and, from time to time, consular agents at other points. For the most part these latter were natives, the fees being insufficient to attract Americans.

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4 Buchanan to J. L. Martin, Apr. 5, 1848; Clayton to Cass, May 23, 1849. Dept. of State, Instructions, Papal States (1 vol.). Unless otherwise indicated all references are to this volume or to the volumes of Despatches, in the same Department.

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5 Levin was a leader of the Native American party in Pennsylvania, and was implicated in the Kensington Riots and the burning of St. Michael's and St. Augustine's. This ten-column speech is recommended to all editors of anti-Catholic papers, for the wealth of material it holds for their purpose. For a full account of this debate in both Houses, which continued throughout several days, see the Congressional Globe, XVII (13 Cong., 1 sess.), pp57, 418, 430, 439‑445, 476‑477, 509, 514, 520‑521; app. pp403‑410, 437‑445. Messrs. Ingersoll and Brown, both of Pennsylvania, strongly defended the Church, and criticized their colleague for his appeal to religious prejudice. In the Senate, Dix of N. Y., Foote of Miss., and Hannegan of Ind., advocated the proposal, while objections were made by Badger of N. C., Benton of Mo., and Hale of N. H. The religious phase of the question entered very little into the debates in the upper House, although Badger accused Polk and his party of pandering to the Catholics for their votes; here the opposition questioned the political or commercial need of s representative at Rome other than a consul. The vote in the House was 137 to 15, in the Senate 36‑7, against the amendment proposing the rejection of the item for the mission.

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6 The despatches of the American ministers discuss many things — the relations of the Vatican with other countries, the Bedini mission to the U. S., the promulgation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the attitude of the Pope toward Maximilian and the Mexican project; they tell of a breakfast with the Holy Father at the American College; they disclose an effort made by some priests of Dubuque to effect a certain appointment to that bishopric; they show an offer made by some Catholics in America to raise troops for service in the papal army; and they give detailed and valuable accounts of the political situation throughout Italy during this period.

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7 State Dept., Instructions, Papal States.

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8 Despatches, Martin to Buchanan no. 1, May 1, 1848.

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9 Ibid., no. 2, Aug. 20, 1848.

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10 Martin was appointed from Pennsylvania. He was buried in Rome, the United States government allowing $100 for his tombstone, which bears the inscription: Sacred to the memory of J. L. Martin, late Chargé d'Affaires of the United States near the Holy See, who died at Rome, Aug. 26, 1848. Rev. Benjamin N. Martin, Albany, N. Y., was his legal representative. Clayton to Cass, no. 11, July 1, 1850; Cass to Webster, no. 36, Dec. 9, 1850.

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11 Instructions, Apr. 5, 1848.

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12 Despatches, no. 2, Aug. 20, 1848.

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13 Instructions to Cass, Jan. 6, 1849; ibid., no. 27, July 17, 1854. Cass had spent some time in France while his father was minister there; and had been commissioned major of cavalry in a regiment raised for service in the Mexican War. He died in Paris about 1879. Palmer, Early Days in Detroit, pp383, 780.

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14 State Dept., Consular Letters, III, Rome 1847‑1850, enclosed in Brown's despatches of Feb. 1, and 23, 1849.

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15 Ibid., from Brown, Mar. 27, 1849.

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16 Instructions, Buchanan to Cass, no. 2.

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17 Ibid.

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18 Despatches, Cass to Clayton, no. 1, Apr. 9, 1849.

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19 Ibid., no. 2, Apr. 21, 1849.

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20 Ibid.

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21 Ibid., no. 3, Apr. 27, 1849. During the siege of Rome which followed, Cass, yielding to the solicitations of the many Americans in Rome, requested Capt. Hunter, commanding the U. S. steamer, Alleghany, off Leghorn, to bring his ship to the port of Rome without delay.

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22 Ibid., no. 5, May 23, 1849.

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23 Instructions, Clayton to Cass, no. 5, June 25, 1849. Cass was uncertain of the purport of these instructions and wrote for further explanation. He was told that the only limitation imposed was that any government to which he might present his credentials should possess "the necessary requisite of at least apparent stability." Clayton to Cass, no. 7, Sept. 19, 1849.

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24 Cass to Clayton, no. 7, July 8, 1849.

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25 Ibid., no. 24, Apr. 20, 1850.

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26 Ibid. Cass first presented his credentials to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Nov. 16, 1849. Ibid., no. 16, Nov. 21, 1849.

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27 Instructions, Cass to Stockton, no. 1, July 19, 1858. Stockton was born in New Jersey in 1826, and after his return from Rome, was elected U. S. Senator from that state. He died in 1900.

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28 Despatches, Stockton to Cass, nos. 10 and 11, June 24, Aug. 2, 1859.

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29 Instructions, Cass to Stockton, no. 5, Sept. 5, 1859.

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30 Despatches, Stockton to Cass, nos. 19 and 20, Mar. 23, Apr. 16, 1860. Stockton's course was approved. Instructions, Cass to Stockton, no. 10, Apr. 27, 1860.

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31 The state of affairs then existing led many to believe the Holy Father was preparing to leave Rome. Stockton records an interesting conversation with Cardinal Antonelli on the subject. The latter denied that any such move had been seriously considered, although circumstances might arise to make it necessary, as, for example, abandonment by the French. Stockton suggested that in such a crisis terms be made with Victor Emmanuel. The Cardinal Secretary replied that it would be impossible to make terms with the despoilers of the Church. Stockton said that it was necessary sometimes to make terms with the devil. He told the Cardinal, also, that many a warm Catholic in America was as warm an admirer of Garibaldi. In the course of the conversation, Antonelli, predicting the final success of the republican party in Italy, remarked that "the United States was the only free country in the world." Stockton to Cass, no. 37, Nov. 15, 1860.

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32 Despatches, Stockton to Black, no. 41, Mar. 19, 1861.

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33 Instructions, Seward to King, no. 1, Apr. 16, 1861. The new minister was a native of New York who later settled in Wisconsin, where he held many public offices. After his return from Rome in 1867, he was appointed deputy collector of customs at New York. He died in 1876. See his biography by Gen. Charles King in Wisconsin Magazine of History, IV, 371‑381.

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34 Instructions, Seward to King, no. 2, Apr. 29, 1861.

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35 Despatches, King to Lincoln, Aug. 6, 1861.

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36 Ibid., Stockton to Seward, Sept. 14, 1861.

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37 Ibid. Since King had not presented himself at Rome, Antonelli said he could not make a formal reply to the former's instructions.

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38 Ibid., Randall to Seward, private, June 11, 1862. Randall, circuit judge, governor of Wisconsin, and Postmaster General, was appointed at the suggestion of King. Wis. Mag. of History, IV, 376; M. M. Quaife, Convention of 1846, II.787‑788 (Collections, State Hist. Soc. of Wis., vol. XXVII). Speaking of his first interview with Antonelli, through an interpreter, Randall wrote, "I was careful in what I said to him, because I became satisfied in a few minutes that he could understand and speak English." Randall to Seward, June 1, 1862.

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39 Instructions to Blatchford, Aug. 11, 1862. Blatchford was a native of Connecticut; he practiced law in New York, and served in the state legislature. He died in 1875. Blatchford and King in their despatches make some interesting observations regarding the attitude of the papal authorities toward the North, and the feeling among the foreign ministers at Rome. Speaking of the Holy Father, Blatchford wrote: "Everybody is ready to ascribe to the Pope benevolence of heart and rectitude in all that he says and does — his popularity is great, and it is equalled only by the admitted ability and statesmanship of Cardinal Antonelli." Despatches, Blatchford to Seward, no. 6, Mar. 7, 1863.

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40 Instructions, Oct. 15, 1863.

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41 Ibid., Seward to King, confidential, no. 42. Aug. 16, 1866.

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42 Despatches, King to Seward, no. 46, Nov. 18, 1865. Pius IX was accustomed to make jesting yet pathetic references to his navy of one boat, the Immaculate Conception. King reminded His Holiness that it was the duty of the diplomatic corps to share his fortunes and remain near his person.

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43 The question was debated by the college of cardinals, and apparent negotiations were carried on with England concerning an asylum for the papal court in Malta. Ibid., no. 34, Mar. 11, 1865; no. 60, July 24, 1866; no. 61, July 30, 1866; no. 62, Aug. 8, 1866; no. 65, Nov. 2, 1866.

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44 Ibid., no. 66, Nov. 10, 1866; no. 68, Nov. 20, 1866.

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45 Ibid., no. 68, Nov. 20, 1866.

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46 Ibid.

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47 Ibid.

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48 Instructions, Seward to King, no. 51, Dec. 10, 1866.

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49 Despatches, Randall to Seward, no. 3, June 11, 1862.

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50 Id., Blatchford to Seward, no. 1, Nov. 29, 1862; see also King to Seward, no. 15, June 22, 1864; id., no. 31, Jan. 14, 1865.

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51 Blatchford to Seward, no. 1, Nov. 29, 1862.

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52 King to Seward, no. 20, Aug. 22, 1864.

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53 Department of State, Consular Letters, Rome, IV, Stillman to Seward, Sept. 16, 1862.

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54 Despatches, King to Seward, no. 25, Oct. 25, 1864.

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55 Library of Congress, Pickett Papers, Diplomatic Correspondence, Belgium, pp20‑21; Richardson, Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.570‑572.

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56 Pickett Papers, Box G, Mann to Benjamin, nos. 66, 68, Nov. 11, 21, 1863; Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.589, 600.

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57 Pickett Papers, ibid., no. 67, Nov. 14, 1863; Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.591. See also G. M. Jacobs, in the Louisville Courier-Journal, May 30, 1900.

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58 Ibid., p602; Pickett Papers, as above, no. 69, Dec. 9, 1863. the original letter of the Pope, which Mann wrote would "adorn the archives of our country in all coming time," is in the Library of Congress. It is printed in the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.603. Beyond the address, there is not a single expression in it which, given its most liberal interpretation, can be said to express or imply recognition.

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59 Library of Congress, Mason Papers, Slidell to Mason, Dec. 16, 1864.

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60 Pickett Papers, Diplomatic Correspondence, Belgium, pp29‑30; Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.623.

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61 State Dept., Despatches, King to Seward, nos. 6 and 11, Mar. 19, May 11, 1864; no. 12, May 21, inclosing Hooker, secretary of legation, to Blatchford, Dec. 2, 1863.

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62 Id., Instructions, Seward to King, no. 4, Feb. 9, 1864; no. 7, Apr. 6; no. 14, July 19; no. 17, Sept. 21.

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63 Pickett Papers, Dip. Corr., Spain, pp46‑50, Benjamin to Lynch, Apr. 4, 1864; Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, II.470, 659. Lynch was to receive $1,000 a month in salary, and contiguous expenses not to exceed $500 a month. Father Renouf accompanied him as chaplain. Pickett Papers, Box H.

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64 Ibid.

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65 Ibid., Box N, where will be found Father Bannon's numerous despatches, together with copies of his letters to the press signed "Sacerdos." For further account of Ireland and the American Civil War, see Dr. Richard J. Purcell in the Catholic World, Apr., 1922.

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66 Despatches, Hooker to Seward, Sept. 1, 1865.

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67 Id., King to Seward, no. 18, July 30, 1864; no. 19, Aug. 16; no. 25, Oct. 25; no. 41, June 2, 1865.

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68 Despatches, King to Seward, no. 42, June 24, 1865; same to same, private, June 26.

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69 Id., King to Hunter, no. 41, June 2, 1865.

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70 Instructions, Seward to King, no. 43, Oct. 16, 1866.

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71 The despatches and instructions relating to the Surratt incident are too numerous to be listed separately; they are printed in Foreign Affairs, 39 Cong., 2d sess., pp129‑149.

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72 For the debate on the subject, see Congressional Globe, 39 Cong., 2d sess., pp850, 882‑885.

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73 King's despatches, nos. 82‑92, Feb. 11-May 7, 1867, are given almost exclusively to the discussion of this matter. He makes it very plain that the claims upon which Congress apparently based its withdrawal of the appropriation for this mission, had no foundation in fact.


Thayer's Notes:

a There does not appear to be any such church in Rome or at its gates. The Pope was met at the Porta S. Giovanni — St. John's Gate — and the church meant is very likely the nearby basilica of St. John Lateran from which the gate takes its name: it was and is the Pope's official see as Bishop of Rome, and is also one of the few churches in Rome large enough to accommodate a major ceremonial occasion involving "the diplomatic corps and others". Mind you, proving a negative is not so easy, and I'm not absolutely sure that there might not be a church of "S. Giovanni nel Deserto"; but if there is, or was, it is not listed among the 20 churches of St. John in the exhaustive catalogue of the churches of Rome by a great scholar in the matter (Christian Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, s.v. "[Ecclesia] S. Iohannis", pp269‑278; and post-medieval churches, p534).

I suspect some contemporaneous Italian document, poorly digested by Stock, in which the appropriateness of the church would have been commented on in a vein assimilating the Pope's exile in Gaeta to the stay of St. John in the wilderness.

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b The archbishop was sent to Europe by Secretary of State William Seward to investigate and promote European support for the Union in its war against the Confederacy. Details are given in Archbishop John Hughes, American Envoy to France (1861).


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