May 12, 2011 / 03:55 am
Rhode Island lawmakers voted last week to pardon an Irish Catholic man they say was wrongfully executed in 1845. The decision closes an ugly chapter in the long history of discrimination against Catholics in the U.S.
“Anti-Catholicism was certainly one of the first religious prejudices brought to the new world, and it became widespread” in the 19th century, according to Nancy Schultz, Ph.D of Salem State University in Massachusetts.
Schultz was commenting on the May 4 decision by the Rhode Island legislature to pardon John Gordon – a 29 year-old Irish immigrant who was hanged for a murder many say he didn't commit.
Gordon was convicted in 1843 and executed two years later for allegedly killing a wealthy Rhode Island mill owner who had political connections.