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James Gibbons

1834-1921. Archbishop of Baltimore. Son of Irish immigrants, he rose from simple surroundings in Baltimore to become “the American Cardinal,” the dominant Roman Catholic prelate in United States history. Appointed archbishop of Baltimore in 1877, and named cardinal in 1886, he led the nation's first archdiocese, and thus much of the American church, until his death. Although untalented as a writer and a thinker, he extended Catholic influence in an age of intense anti- Catholicism. Faced with a church that was glutted with non- English-speaking immigrants and a nation that feared aliens, he tried to prove that loyalty to Rome actually improved American Catholic citizenship. His leadership, which fostered such institutions as the Catholic University of America and the National Catholic Welfare Conference, also created an “Americanism” which supported the established order and ignored some church traditions like the just war.