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Hughes, John, Catholic Divine

HUGHES, JOHN, CATHOLIC DIVINE (1797-1864), American Roman Catholic divine, was born in Annaloghan, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, on the 24th of June 1797. In 1817 he followed his father to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordained deacon in 1825 and priest in 1826; and as vicar in St Augustine's and other churches in Philadelphia he took a prominent part in the defence of ecclesiastical authority against the lay trustee system. In 1837 he was consecrated coadjutor to Bishop Dubois in New York. In the New York diocese, of which he was made administrator in 1839 and bishop in 1842, besides suppressing (1841) church control by lay trustees, he proved himself an active, almost pugnacious, leader. His unsuccessful attempt to build in Lafargeville, Jefferson county, a seminary of St Vincent de Paul, was followed by the transfer of the school to Fordham, where St John's College (now Fordham University) was established (1841), largely out of funds collected by him in Europe in 1839-1840. His demand for state support for parochial schools was favoured by Governor Seward and was half victorious: it was in this controversy that he was first accused of forming a Catholic party in politics. John McCloskey was consecrated his coadjutor in 1844; in 1847 the diocese of New York was divided; and in 1850 Hughes was named the first archbishop of New York, with suffragan bishops of Boston, Hartford, Albany and Buffalo. In the meantime, during the " Native American " disturbances of 1844, he had been viciously attacked together with his Church; he kept his parishioners in check, but bade them protect their places of worship. His attitude was much the same at the time of the Anti-Popery outcry of the ' KnowNothings " in 1854. His early anti-slavery views had been made much less radical by his travels in the South and in the West Indies, but at the outbreak of the Civil War he was strongly pro-Union, and in 1861 he went to France to counteract the influence of the Slidell mission. He met with success not only in France, but at Rome and in Ireland, where, however, he made strong anti-English speeches. He died in New York City on the 3rd of January 1864. Hughes was a hard fighter and delighted in controversy. In 1826 he wrote An Answer to Nine Objections Made by an Anonymous Writer Against the Catholic Religion; he was engaged in a bitter debate with Dr John Breckenridge (Presbyterian), partly in letters published in 1833 and partly in a public discussion in Philadelphia in 1835, on the subject of civil and religious liberty as affected by the Roman Catholic and the Presbyterian " religions " ; in 1856, through his organ, the Metropolitan Record, he did his best to discredit any attempts by the Catholic press to forward either the movement to " Americanize " the Catholic Church or that to disseminate the principles of " Young Ireland."

His works were edited by Laurence Kehoe (2 vols., New York, 1864-1865). See John R. G. Hassard, Life of the Most Rev. John Hughes (New York, 1866); and Henry A. Brann, John Hughes (New York, 1894), a briefer sketch, in " The Makers of America " series.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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