Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

H. Robert Baker

Second Advisor

Chara Haeussler Bohan

Abstract

From the colonial era, through the beginning of the 20th century, Catholics had difficulty finding a place in America’s overwhelmingly Protestant culture. Yet, as the stressors of the “New Immigration” and WWI led to the nativist response called "100% Americanism," hostility against Catholics intensified. At the same time, one of the principles that nativists celebrated with greatest exuberance was America’s tradition of religious freedom. How could anti-Catholic secularists think that they were actually protecting religious freedom by excluding Catholics from the public square? My thesis is that advocates of "100% Americanism,” like their Protestant forbearers, based the boundaries of the public square on an individualistic epistemology, such that their religious beliefs were welcomed and encouraged but Catholic beliefs were excluded.

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