Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Scott W. See

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Richard W. Judd

Abstract

The 1920s and 1930s saw an international wave of anti-Catholicism in the Northeastern borderlands of the United States and Canada. The growth of the Ku Klux Klan as a powerful force in Maine and New Brunswick politics during the period and the continued influence of the Orange Order, a prominent Protestant fraternal order in New Brunswick, were both manifestations of this movement. Each of these groups saw itself as the defender of a Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture under siege by alien forces and shared a distinct cultural revulsion towards francophone and Catholic influence in society. The religious and linguistic differences between the nativist organizations and their opponents, and the fears aroused by these differences, were heightened by the growing demographic and political influence of French-speaking Catholic minorities in New Brunswick and Maine. The rhetoric used by each group attacked French language education as a threat to the traditional Protestant order, emphasized the supposed danger of Papal conspiracies growing among these Catholic populations, and revealed the “siege mentality” of these organizations, who saw themselves as bulwarks against the supposedly deleterious impact of francophone or Catholic participation on civil society. In the borderlands of Maine and New Brunswick, these organizations maintained material and ideological connections with one another and supported their fellow nativists’ activities across the border. The rise of the Canadian Ku Klux Klan in New Brunswick, which represented a melding of American and Anglo-Canadian influences, reflected the close connection among fellow Protestants in the region and a transnational fear of an international Catholic conspiracy. It maintained connections with Orange Order members and with Ku Klux Klan organizations across the border in Maine, as well as with Conservative Party politicians in New Brunswick. These organizations’ close connections and ideological overlap demonstrated the deep roots of the anti-Catholic nativism in the Northeast and the profound significance of religion and ethnicity to national identity during this period.

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