This article analyzes the development of a distinctly American Catholic identity among Philadelphia's Catholics in the wake of the 1844 Philadelphia riots. It offers a critique of historians' theses that by the nineteenth century a largely immigrant Catholic population had rejected the Revolutionary-era synthesis between republicanism and Catholicism. The ideological battle following the riots reveals the ways in which Philadelphia's Catholics challenged their nativist opponents by utilizing republican rhetoric. Catholics' republicanism was much more liberal than nativists' classical republicanism; as such, they emphasized the protection of minority rights and the separation of church and state.

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