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The Northwestern Chronicle and the Spanish-American War: American Catholic Attitudes Regarding the "Splendid Little War"

Scott Wright


The Northwestern Chronicle (NC), published in St. Paul, Minnesota from 1866 to 1900, was the closest thing to an official diocesan newspaper in the area prior to the beginning of the Catholic Bulletin in 1911. Its coverage of the Spanish-American War (April-August 1898) and its aftermath provides an interesting and revealing view of American Catholic attitudes regarding both the war itself and American foreign policy generally during this period. The newspaper, like much of the country, took a strong pro-war position in the period leading up to and during the war. This position was strengthened by the need of immigrant Catholics, under attack by nativist groups such as the American Protective Association (APA), to prove their loyalty to their new country. It likewise causedthem to pay little attention to the antiwar teachings and peacemaking efforts of Leo XIII in respect to the war. The activities and views of Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, first in attempting to avoid the war in the period preceding its onset and then whole-heartedly supporting it once war had been declared, also reflects something of this contradiction. Finally, the Chronicle, in the period following the war, offered a unique Catholic critique of the war, especially inregard to the annexation of the Philippines and the proposed Protestant "Christianizing" of the region.

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