John F. Quinn


In the nineteenth century, New England was inhospitable territory for Catholics. The historian Jay Dolan notes that Irish Catholics received lower wages and had fewer opportunities to advance in New England than in other regions of the country. Even Rhode Island, with its long tradition of religious freedom, was not immune from nativist impulses. Rhode Islanders elected a member of the anti- Catholic Know Nothing party as governor in 1855 and effectively barred immigrants from voting for most of the nineteenth century. One part of Rhode Island was very different from the rest of the state, however. In Newport, the Catholics, who were overwhelmingly Irish, fared very well. By the 1850s, Catholics had established themselves as a presence in Newport.