This Week in History

Texas Annexation Controversy Resolved: February 28, 1845

This text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

John C. Calhoun

In May 1836, John C. Calhoun said: “there [are] powerful reasons why Texas should be part of this Union.” The southern states, he said, “owning a slave population, were deeply interested in preventing that country from having the power to annoy them.” With other southerners, Calhoun feared an independent Texas could not maintain the institution of slavery by itself; and if Great Britain should annex Texas, slavery would end there. No fugitive slave agreement, as the South had with the North, would exist with an independent Texas; and if slavery were abolished in Texas, slaves in the states could easily escape there. Some southerners, too, thought admitting Texas would provide, as one Senator McDuffie said before his colleagues on May 23, 1844, “a safety valve to let off the superabundant slave population from among us.” Texas annexation, McDuffie continued, would “at the same time improve their [the slaves’] condition; they will be more happy, and we shall be more secure. But if you pen them up within our present limits, what becomes of the free negroes, and what will be their condition?”

Southerners had another reason to favor Texas’ annexation. As in 1820, Calhoun and other southerners feared the political dominance of the North. To date, there were 13 slave and 13 free states; but with Florida remaining the only potential slave state, and with Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, all free territories, waiting in the wings for statehood, Southerners feared to lose their power in the Senate as they already had in the House. Texas, they thought, could be divided into several slave states and so provide their section the representation it needed to maintain its power in the national councils. (more…)

Ginger Vance

Ginger Vance

Catholic Textbook Project,welcomes Ginger Vance of St. Michael, MN, to its expanding sales team, effective immediately. Vance’s territory covers Catholic schools and dioceses within the state of Minnesota. She may be reached at or by phone at 888.610.5433, ext 6.

In addition to joining the sales team of Catholic Textbook Project, Ginger will continue to serve as principal of Notre Dame Academy, a pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school in the (more…)

This Week in History

The Pope Dragged from Rome:

February 20, 1798

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here. See last week’s post on Pius VI here.

General Pierre Augereau

The elections for the two houses of the French legislative assembly on May 20, 1797, seemed to promise a long-awaited peace for the Church in France. A majority of the seats in both the Council of Ancients and the Council of 500 had gone to candidates who favored a constitutional monarchy and even to royalists, who wanted to restore the Bourbon kingship. A royalist named Barthélemy was now one of the five directors. Such results suggested that the French people were growing tired of radical revolutionary government and attacks on their religion.

It appeared that the new government would seek to reconcile itself with the Catholic Church. Proposals to remove all laws against nonjuror clergy were introduced in the French legislature. But all this did not please radical deputies in the councils, nor three of the directors—Barras, Rewbell, and La Reveillière. On September 4, 1797 (18th Fructidor in the revolutionary calendar), these three, with General Pierre Augereau, staged a coup d’etat. Seizing power, they replaced Carnot and the royalist Barthélemy with other more “revolutionary” directors. The Directory now rejected the elections of 49 of the new delegates and removed from the councils 53 delegates they did not like and deported them. (more…)

This Week in History

Election of a Pleasure-Loving Pope: February 15, 1775

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here.

Giovanni Angelico Braschi (Pope Pius VI)

The conclave that met to elect Pope Clement XIV’s successor in 1774 stretched on for four months. Once again, Spain, France, and Portugal pressured the cardinals to elect a pope who would not give the kings much trouble. Among the cardinals the monarchs opposed (because he was friendly toward the Jesuits) was Cardinal Giovanni Angelico Braschi. But Braschi was able to gain the support of the anti-Jesuits in the conclave by tacitly agreeing not to reinstate the Jesuits. And he received the support of those who favored the Jesuits because they thought him a friend of the Jesuits. Thus on February 15, 1775, Braschi was elected pope and took the name of Pius VI. 

Pope Pius VI was something of a throwback to the Renaissance. Unlike the last pope named Pius (St. Pius V), Pius VI was not an ascetic. He loved pompous ceremonies and elaborate processions. Because he was a strikingly handsome man, women would cry out Come sei bello! (“How handsome you are!”) as he and his entourage passed through the streets of Rome. A patron of the arts, Pius VI purchased beautiful paintings and sculpture for his collection in the Vatican. He carried out civic works in Rome—draining marshes and restoring the ancient Roman road, the Via Appia, for use as a thoroughfare. None of this displeased the people of Rome; as lovers of pageantry, they welcomed a pope who could put on a good show. (more…)

Read Winning Essays Here

We are so proud of all who participated in Catholic Textbook Project’s Fall 2016 History Essay Contest!  This year’s winning essays are now posted. 

Please click on the names below to read an essay.

Winners of the Fall 2016 Catholic Textbook Project History Essay Contest: