Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

David Robson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Anne Kugler, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Daniel Kilbride, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


This thesis examines the early American Catholic Church and how its first bishop, John Carroll, guided it through the first years of the American republic. The struggles Carroll faced were the legacy of the English heritage of the colonies. English Catholics who shaped colonial Catholic life made the community private and personal in response to the religious atmosphere in the English world. The American Revolution brought toleration for Catholics and they struggled to adapt their hierarchal religion to new republican language. Some congregations went as far as to deny episcopal power, a theory known as trusteeism. Different interpretations struggled to gain prominence and the issue was not resolved until decades after Carroll’s death in 1815. Yet the Church he left behind provided a strong base for later immigrants who nonetheless dramatically changed the face of the American Catholic Church.


65 p.