Timeline of American Catholic History

The Colonial Church, 1700–1800

By 1700, Catholicism was well established in the colonies, though the Church remained in infancy. In the Spanish Southwest, Franciscans founded numerous missions, including the California chain stretching from San Diego to San Francisco. In the English colonies, Catholics enjoyed religious freedom only in Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia remained an important center of Catholic life throughout the period. Catholics could be found among both Loyalists and Patriots, but the enthusiastic participation of many Catholics in the cause for independence, combined with the French alliance and the ideas of freedom that accompanied the Revolution led to increasing toleration for Catholic faith and practice. The foundations of the Church's structure in the new nation were laid with the creation of the see of Baltimore and the naming of its first bishop, John Carroll.

1700 The Colonial Church

1711 Fr. Eusebio Kino dies in Arizona

1724 Fr. Sebastien Rale killed by New England war party

1752 Fr. Ferdinand Farmer arrives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

1769 Fr. Junípero Serra founds first California mission at San Diego

1776 Charles Carroll of Carrollton signs Declaration of Independence

1776 Tadeusz Kosciuszko joins American cause

1777 Casimir Pulaski made commander of American cavalry

1778 Fr. Pierre Gibault pledges support to American cause

1782 Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur publishes Letters from an American Farmer

1784 Serra dies, Fr. Fermín Lasuén becomes head of California missions

1787 Daniel Carroll (Maryland) and Thomas Fitzimons (Pennsylvania) participate in Constitutional Convention

1789 Diocese of Baltimore created, John Carroll consecrated first Catholic bishop of United States

1789 Fr. John Thayer ordained

1790 Mathew Carey publishes first American edition of Douay-Reims bible

1791 First Catholic seminary in US founded, St. Mary's of Baltimore

1793 Fr. Stephen Badin first priest ordained in U.S.

1793 Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas created

1794 John Barry made chief of US Navy