Hughes, John (2)

Hughes, John an American Roman Catholic prelate, was born in Ireland in 1798, and emigrated to this country in 1817, his father having preceded him about two years. At first he went to a florist to learn the art of gardening, but a few years later he entered the Theological Seminary of St. Mary's at Emmittsburgh, Md., teaching also at the same time. In 1825 he was ordained priest in Philadelphia, and settled over a parish of that city. In 1837 he was appointed coadjutor of bishop Dubois, of New York. and immediately after his consecration in 1838, he assumed the virtual administration of the diocese, but he was not made bishop until 1842. In 1850 New York was raised to the dignity of an archiepiscopal see, and archbishop Hughes went to Rome to receive the pallium at the hands of the pope. He died January 3, 1864. Even before his elevation to the episcopacy he had gained among his coreligionists some distinction as a champion of his Church by a controversy, in 1830 and 1834, with Dr. John Breckinridge, on the question, "Is the Protestant religion the religion of Christ?" Some years later he had another celebrated controversy with Dr. Nicholas Murray, of Elizabeth, who, under the name of "Kinran," published a series of able and interesting articles against the Roman Catholic Church. "Both controversies increased his reputation among his coreligionists; but non-Catholics were not struck by his arguments in favor of Roman Catholicism, and he failed to attract anything like the attention, or produce anything like the impression, which writings of real ability, such as those of Mohler in Germany, and of Brownson and Hecker, are always sure to command." As archbishop, in the administration of the property of the Church, and the use, which he made of it for the spreading of his Church, he displayed a talent rarely found. An immense property gradually accumulated in his hands, which enabled him to increase largely the number of Roman Catholic churches, schools, and other denominational institutions. Thus, in 1841, he opened the Roman Catholic St. John's College, at Fordham, New York, to which he afterwards added the Theological Seminary of St. Joseph. The archbishop sustained a celebrated controversy on this subject with Erastus Brooks, editor of the New York Express, and at that time a state senator, who had stated in an address in the senate chamber that the archbishop owned property in New York to the amount of $5,000,000. A long discussion took place, and this time the ability with which the archbishop defended his statements and his position, was acknowledged alike by Protestants and Romanists. But he opened a breach between the Romanists and Protestants by his unauthorized demands in the School Question, to the effect that the Common Council of New York City should designate seven of the public schools as Catholic schools, and when this was denied both by the Common Council and the Legislature, bishop Hughes advised the Catholics to run, at the next political campaign, an independent ticket. He defended his cause with great ability, but failed to convince Protestants generally of the fairness of the demand to grant to the Roman Catholic community an exceptional prerogative, which was neither possessed nor claimed by any Protestant, body. He also opposed the reading of the Protestant version of the Bible in the common school, in which he was not quite so successful as in his other efforts in behalf of Romanism. Archbishop Hughes's political influence in the United States was very great, and he was honored by all sects in a manner unknown in any other Protestant country. Thus, in 1847, he was invited by both houses of Congress to deliver a lecture in the hall of the House of Representatives in Washington, and after the outbreak of the Rebellion (1862) he was even entrusted with a semi-official mission to France. As a writer archbishop Hughes has done but little, except by the discussions above alluded to. These were all published in book form (Philadelphia 1836, 8vo). He also published a number of his sermons and addresses. Since his decease his "works" have been collected by Lawrence Kehoe (N.Y. 2 vols. 8vo; 2nd ed. 1865). — N. Tablet, Jan. 1864; Methodist, Jan. 9,1864; An Amer. Cyclop. 1868, p. 429. (J. H..)

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