Friday, May 3, 2019

The Bishop of Dubuque

On this date in 1863, Clement Smyth, bishop of Dubuque, Iowa, demanded that Roman Catholics cease belonging to secret societies, including the pro-Confederate Knights of the Golden Circle. He may have said it from the pulpit of St. Raphael Cathedral (above), the construction of which he had recently overseen. 
Dubuque, on the Mississippi River, was a Copperhead center in Iowa. At this point in the war opponents of the Union cause were active across the Midwest, taking strength from Confederate victories in the South.
 Smyth, an Irish immigrant, was a consistent supporter of the United States government, which apparently provoked an arsonist to destroy his carriage house in 1865. While many Irish immigrants, from Confederate General Patrick Cleburne to some of the New York City draft rioters, were anti-Union, more of them -- like Paddy O'Rorke and Thomas Sweeny -- lined up with Bishop Smyth.

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