st patrick’s day starbucks drink As the Catholic population of New York increased, the need for a new cathedral arose. Hughes laid the cornerstone for the new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in 1858. The building wouldn’t be completed until years after Hughes died, but in a sense the enormous landmark in midtown Manhattan is a symbol of his stewardship of the New York diocese.
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Archbishop Hughes had many enemies, who often characterized him as a ruthless political operator and referred to him as “Dagger John.” (The nickname had an innocent basis: he generally signed documents with his name and a small drawing of a cross, which to some resembled a dagger.)
And while he was considered a power broker in New York, the clergyman steadfastly maintained that he never took partisan positions. Some of his views were controversial at the time, such as his refusal to support the abolitionist movement. Hughes was opposed to slavery, but considered abolition to be a radical social change he could not support.
President Lincoln Enlists the Help of Archbishop Hughes
A friendship and correspondence with William Seward, the New York governor and senator who became Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, brought Hughes into close contact with the federal government at the outbreak of the Civil War.
Lincoln invited Hughes to Washington to meet with him and his cabinet in October, 1861. Asked to help the Union cause, Hughes refused an official appointment, but he agreed to visit Europe on behalf of the Lincoln administration.
Archbishop Hughes sailed to Europe and visited Paris, where he met the emperor of France, Napoleon III. He also visited Rome and Dublin. His mission was to generate or bolster support for the Union cause at a time when Lincoln and Seward were worried that Europeans nations could recognize the Confederacy.