Daniel Rudd
Representative in the United States
of Charles Lavigerie's Work for the African Slaves 

Retrieved from the book:

Cyprian Davis, OSB

CHAPTER 7 (starting p. 163, quoted till p. 170)


President Robert Cleveland (1837-1908)
On a winter afternoon in January 1889, a group of almost a hundred men, all African Americans, made their way through the streets of Washington, D.C., to the White House to be ushered into the presence of President Grover Cleveland. It was a unique occasion. Cleveland was in the last days of his first terra as president, and blacks were not frequent guests in the White House. What was more significant, however, was that this body of men were both blacks and Catholics from all parts of the nation and that this was the first time in the Catholic church's history in the United States that blacks had come together as a body, consciously aware of themselves as a group. President Cleveland told them that good religious people were a powerful help to the government and administration of a nation. This comment was in response to the opening address of the delegates, who thanked the president for what he had done for the black race.

The White House (1889)
The date was January 4, 1889, and the occasion was the last day of the four-day meeting of what was the first black Catholic lay congress in the nation's history. This visit to the White House and reception by the president was the climax of what had been a triumphant meeting of black Catholics, where as a body they deliberated, voiced their opinions, and made decisions regarding their church and their place within it. The visit to the White House was surpassed only by the cablegram from Pope Leo XIII's secretary of state, Cardinal Rampolla, which made known to the delegates of the congress that the pope had sent them his apostolic blessing. Less than a quarter of a century after the end of slavery, a Roman pontiff had given his approbation and blessing to a nationwide assembly of black Catholic men. Thus a new age for the black Catholic community had emerged.1

Daniel Rudd
The one individual responsible for this new development among black Catholics was Daniel Rudd, a figure that for a long time was not well known in American church history.2 And yet at the end of the nineteenth century, Rudd - newspaperman, lecturer, publisher, publicist, and "leading Catholic representative of the Negro race" - had made himself very well known to members of the hierarchy and to Catholic laymen, as well as to one French cardinal.

Daniel Rudd was born on August 7, 1854, in Bardstown, Kentucky. His parents were Robert and Elizabeth Rudd. His father was a slave on the Rudd estate near Bardstown, and his mother a slave of the Hayden family in Bardstown.3 Both parents were Catholics.4 Daniel was one of twelve children.

After the Civil War, Daniel Rudd moved to Springfield, Ohio (where his elder brother, Robert Rudd, was living), in order to get a secondary-school education. There in 1886 he began a black newspaper that was called the Ohio State Tribune.5 That same year Rudd changed the focus of this weekly newspaper and gave it a new name, American Catholic Tribune. He announced the change with the words: "We will do what no other paper published by colored men has dared to do - give the great Catholic Church a hearing and show that it is worthy of at least a fair consideration at the hands of our race, being as it is the only place on this Continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar."6 The newspaper proudly stated on the editorial page, "The only Catholic Journal owned and published by Colored Men." The masthead indicated that the weekly newspaper was published with the approval of "Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, Md., the most Reverend Archbishops of Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and the Right Reverend Bishops of Covington, Ky, Columbus, O, Richmond, Va, Vincennes, Ind, and Wilmington, Del."7

Daniel Rudd (1854-1933)

Most of the issues of the newspaper were four pages, although for a short time it ran to eight pages. On occasion certain articles were repeated, suggesting that Rudd ran out of material for a given week. Other articles were copied from other newspapers, both secular and Catholic, a frequent practice for small newspapers at the time. By 1887 the newspaper was being published in Cincinnati. Rudd, moreover, had the services of correspondents who also doubled as agents for the newspaper's distribution. Isaac Moten, a native of Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, was a correspondent for the Midwest. Lincoln Vallé, originally from St. Louis and originally a journalist for another black newspaper, the St. Louis Advance, reported from various parts of the country. Robert L. Ruffin for a time was correspondent for New England. Rudd also had a Rome correspondent for a while, a black seminarian at the Urban College.8

Many news stories dealt with matters of particular interest to African Americans - for example, the article by Frederick Douglass in which the former minister to Haiti explained the circumstances of his resignation.9 News of the black community in Cincinnati appeared under the byline of John R. Rudd, Daniel Rudd's nephew, who had the title of city editor. At other times local news of the black community in Chicago, Baltimore, and Louisville/Bardstown as well as other cities appeared. There were also the usual space fillers, such as anecdotes, jokes, and always a serialized version of a novel or short story.

The feature unique to the newspaper was Rudd's thoroughgoing commitment to Catholicism as a church and as a cause. This partisanship in an African American setting was unprecedented. It was expressed especially in Rudd's editorial comments and in the feature articles. It could be reduced to one simple thesis: the Catholic Church is the great hope for black people in the United States. Or as he wrote: "There is an awakening among some people to the fact that the Catholic Church is not only a warm and true friend to the Colored people but is absolutely impartial in recognizing them as the equals of all and any of the other nations and races of men before her altars. Whether priest or laymen they are equals, all within the fold."10 In a more forceful way the same idea was repeated a few years later:

"The Negro of this country ostracized [sic], abused, downtrodden and contemned, needs all the forces which may be brought to bear in his behalf to elevate him to that plane of equality which would give  him the status he needs as "a man among men." ... We need assistance and should obtain help  whenever and wherever it can be given. The Holy Roman Catholic Church offers to the oppressed Negro a material as well as spiritual refuge, superior to all the inducements of other organizations combined ... We need the church, the church wants us. Investigate, brethren! See, comprehend for yourselves and we are satisfied as to what will be the answer."

Rudd could put the same message more succinctly, as he did when he wrote, "The Catholic Church alone can break the color line. Our people should help her to do it."12 Or as lie wrote a few months later, "We believe there is no leadership quite so capable as that of the Catholic Church, because she has up to this time, been the only successful leader of men of all the other races."'13 The message of Rudd was simple and easily understood. It was written in the triumphalist spirit of American Catholicism of the nineteenth century. The only difference was its perspective - a black person's point of view.

Pope Leo XIII
However, Rudd's loyalty was not uncritical. In his editorial columns lie took issue with the comments and opinions of other Catholic newspapers regarding questions of race and racial segregation. Also as a consequence of his racial background, Rudd was interested in the church's social teaching. In 1891 his newspaper published the translation of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical on labor, Rerum Novarum, in six installments.

We have noticed in many of the papers published by Colored men, statements that the Catholic Church is not and has not been the Negro's friend. Of course, anyone with a grain of sense either knows better or is unwilling to learn better, but for the information of both these classes we call attention to the encyclical letter of our Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, which for some weeks has had the run of the columns of the AMERICAN CATHOLIC TRIBUNE. In its treatment of the rights of rich and poor it has not been  equaled by any writer upon this subject, besides it comes with the authority of the teaching Church.

Then he adds, "In this day of strikes and the oppression that causes them, of the injustice of man to man, of prejudice, of murder and of violence, this great paper... is as refreshing as a summer shower and as strong as everlasting truth."14

President A. Lincoln (1809-1865)
Rudd went as far as to compare the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII to the efforts of the abolitionists in the United States. In fact, he estimates that such men as Lincoln, Sumner, and Garrison "were not the first abolitionists," for the Catholic church's teachings "have at last in this our own century gathered such force as to sweep slavery from the face of the earth; and this last letter from the successor of St. Peter gathers the tangled threads of difference between men and sends forth the law that should govern the rights of men."15 He saw that the encyclical must apply particularly to the plight of poor black people in America in his time.

Rudd was most outspoken regarding the situation of blacks within the United States. The last decade of the nineteenth century, sometimes referred to as "the Gay Nineties," was in fact, the nadir of African American history. Violence against blacks increased with impunity throughout the South; lynchings doubled tragically each year. The volume of segregation laws swelled as the decade progressed. (Zudd publicized the growth of lynching.16 He published articles and editorials regarding the spread of racial segregation.
T. Thomas Fortune (1856-1928)
He particularly opposed such laws when attempts were made to, introduce them in the state of Ohio,17 Rudd made his newspaper columns available to militant black journalists such as T. Thomas Fortune, the editor of the prestigious black newspaper New York Age. 18

If Rudd was outspoken in regard to civil rights for African Americans, he was particularly anxious to promote what was called at the time "race pride." In some respects, this was one of the purposes of the newspaper. Rudd published the portraits of important black leaders and featured them in the news. In 1887 lie ran an illustration of Father Augustus Tolton with the caption "The most conspicuous man in America."19 A Republican in politics, Rudd featured black political leaders as well, such as George H. Jackson, a member of the Ohio State legislature.20 Another portrait was that of John Mitchell, Jr., editor of the Planet of Richmond, Virginia.

Mitchell was president of the Negro Press Association, in which Rudd was an active participant. Through his efforts, the organization met in Cincinnati in 1891. He believed that the black press was a source of potential power for black people in this country. In commenting on the success of the Negro Press Convention and the good it would do for black people, he added, "One hundred and sixty newspapers is not a very large showing for seven or eight millions of people, yet taking into consideration the length of time these papers have had to develop, they are marvels of beauty, information and strength."21 Rudd not only played a part in the Afro-American press association, he also maintained a connection with the Catholic Press Association. 22

Rudd was also a lecturer of some renown. His newspaper reported on his lectures, which in fact served to augment the readership of the American Catholic Tribune. Traveling over much of the Midwest, the South, and parts of the East Coast, he addressed white and black audiences on the topic "The Catholic Church and the Negro." For example, Rudd published in the Tribune the report that appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal on May 29, 1887, about his lecture at Jack, son Hall in Lexington, Kentucky, entitled "The New Civilization." He was quoted as saying:

American Catholic Tribune, February 1887
To keep pace with his fairer-hued brother, [the Negro] must be grounded in truth and fairness ... and enter every field where the genius of man avails to conquer. As a means to this end I feel it my duty ... to  dispel some of the misinformation that exists among a portion of my race concerning the Roman Catholic Church ... I want to show him that today, greater than ever before, Holy Mother Church is striving to educate and build up the unfortunate of every race and tribe.23

Rudd had delivered this same lecture in Fort Wayne, Indiana, earlier in the year at the Catholic Library Hall. He continued to speak in other areas around the country, places as widely separated as Lewiston, Maine, and Natchez, Mississippi. Rudd spoke German, and he even lectured on this subject in German in the areas around Cincinnati.24

From all indications, Rudd's lectures were optimistic and hopeful, stressing the improvement of the race in a clear and simple message. Early in his career, in June 1888, when he was about thirty-three years old, Rudd addressed the Catholic Young Men's National Union in Cincinnati. Later his talk was summarized in the Catholic World.25

I hardly expected when a little boy, in the State of Kentucky, that at this early day of my life - and I am a young man yet - I would be standing before a Catholic convention of the Union, to lift my voice in the interest of my race and of my church; but such is the case.

This is the third time that it has been my pleasure to meet Catholics of this country in national convention assembled; the first time was in Toledo, in 1886; the second, in 1887, at Chicago; and now, in this year of  our Lord, 1888.

He proceeded to acquaint his listeners with the relevant facts concerning black Catholics. Rudd claimed that black Catholics numbered 200,000 out of a black population of 7 million. He chided his audience with the assertion that "this race [African Americans] is increasing more rapidly than yours ... by the middle of the next century (it) will outnumber your race." He described the purpose of his journalism. "We have been led to believe that the church was inimical to the Negro race ... I owe it to myself, my God, and my country to refute the slander." He then unveiled for the first time his great project. "We are publishing a weekly newspaper; whatever it is, it is the best we can do in this work. A meeting of our people will be held somewhere; the time and place has not yet been fixed, but I am here, gentlemen, to ask your assistance, to ask your kindness, and you have shown it to me to-day." The talk concluded with characteristic optimism: "I believe that within ten years, if the work goes on as it has been going on, there will be awakened a latent force in this country."

Cardinal Charles Lavigerie
In the summer of 1889 Rudd was sent to Europe, where he met Cardinal Lavigerie.26 The cardinal had organized an antislavery conference that was to be held that summer in Lucerne. The exact circumstances regarding the origin and the funding of Rudd's trip are not completely clear. Some indication is given, however, by a news-paper column that originally appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper. In the July 6 issue of the American Catholic Tribune for that year, a column appeared entitled "Catholics in Boston" under the byline of a certain J. Gordon Street.
Street informed the readers that Cardinal Lavigerie was arranging a conference against slavery to be held in Lucerne and that he had appealed to "prominent colored men in the United States asking them to take an interest in the matter." Black Catholics in Boston had responded to the appeal, and Robert L. Ruffin, a prominent black Catholic and a collaborator with Rudd on the Tribune, had been chosen to represent Boston at the conference in Lucerne. Street's article went on to say that John Boyle O'Reilly, the editor of Boston's Catholic paper, the Pilot, had begun a campaign to raise funds for Ruffin's passage." In the same article, Street wrote, "There is another black man ... that the colored Catholics must sec that he goes to Lucerne - I mean Daniel A. Rudd of Cincinnati."

Ruffin wrote an obituary notice of Cardinal Lavigerie at the time of his death in 1892, which appeared in the AME Church Review. Ruffin noted that he had met the cardinal "through the kindness of His Grace, Archbishop Williams of Boston, and the late John Boyle O’Reilly." He indicated in the same article that he was "accompanied by Mr. Daniel A. Rudd, who was sent by His Grace, Archbishop Eider of Cincinnati, to represent the younger and growing section of America."28 It seems very likely, then, that Rudd's expenses were paid at least in part by Archbishop Elder. Rudd remarked in an editorial that appeared a week after the publication of J. Gordon Street's article that "the Catholics of the United States seem to be the only class of... citizens ... taking proper interest in the great International Anti-Slavery Congress."29 Rudd complained in the same editorial that American blacks did not seem to be interested in this project to end the slave trade. 

Rudd set sail for Hamburg from New York, according to the Tribune article, with "his French Secretary, Mr. Henry L. Jones, of New Orleans and Mr. Robert L. Ruffin - and probably Father Tolton."30 In actual fact, there is no indication from subsequent reports that either Tolton or Jones made the trip. Rudd wrote reports of his travels for publication in the newspaper.31 It was not until his arrival in Hamburg that Rudd learned that the international congress was postponed. In fact, it would be held the next year in 1890 in Brussels. Rudd described his visit with Lavigerie in a letter to Archbishop Elder. "The reception extended us was royal, for His Eminence kissed us like a father. So overjoyed was Africa's great Apostle when he read our letters and credentials that he said our very presence there would give him new life and new zeal for a race that was so full of gratitude." 32

The Birth of Catholic Social Teaching
Rudd wrote this letter from the residence of Cardinal Manning in London, where he and Robert Ruffin stayed on their way home from Switzerland. Lavigerie had given Rudd a letter of introduction to the cardinal of Westminster. Rudd stayed there over a week. Cardinal Manning invited him "to address a large meeting at St. George's Cathedral Hall." In concluding his letter to Archbishop Eider, Rudd informed the archbishop that Lavigerie had made him his representative in the United States for "his work for the African Slaves." Cardinal Lavigerie made a great impression on Rudd. After the cardinal's death, November 26, 1892, Rudd ran a lengthy obituary notice on the front page of the Tribune, along with a picture of the cardinal. More than once Rudd would refer in his articles to his meeting with Cardinal Lavigerie.

In 1894 Rudd moved his paper from Cincinnati to Detroit. In fact, the Tribune of December 1893 was published in Detroit. The issue of February 1, 1894, however, was published in Cincinnati. A week later the paper had the dateline February 8, Detroit, and John R. Rudd was listed as city editor. The Detroit city directory listed the address of Rudd and his nephew until 1897.33 It would seem Chat the paper did not flourish in the new surroundings. Judging from the numbering of the issues, it appeared somewhat irregularly. The last extant issue is dated September 4, 1894.

(Chapter 7 continues on “black catholic laity”, for an other 23 pages)

Special thanks to Julien Cormier, M. Afr.


Chapter 7: "A Humble Experiment ... an Entering Wedge": The Emergence of the Black Catholic Laity

1. Three Catholic Afro-American Congresses, 59-60.

2. Sec Hennesey, American Catholics, 190-92. For the only study of the black Catholic congresses, sec David Spalding,    "The Negro Catholic Congresses, 1889-1894," Catholic Historical Review 55 (1969): 337-57. The author remains    indebted to Brother Thomas [David] Spalding for his research on Daniel Rudd.

3. Rudd gave an account of his mother's life in her obituary notice in American Catholic Tribune (hereafter ACT) for April 29, 1893.

4. Baptismal Register, p. 102 for the date of September 17, 1854, St. Joseph Cathedral Records, Bardstown, Kentucky.

5. Sec Cleveland Gazette (a black newspaper) for July 10, 1886. The article, which is a reprint from the Globe Republic of Springfield, announced that Rudd began the newspaper in Springfield and thon moved it to Columbus, Ohio.

6. Reprinted in the Washington Bee, September 11, 1886, on page 1. The Washington Bee was an influential black  newspaper published in Washington, D.C., during the last quarter of the nineteenth century (microfilm in Library of Congres.) The only extant copies of the ACT are in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Archives and Historical Collections, Overbrook, Pennsylvania. Here are found 283 copies, February 1887 to September 1894. All issues have been microfilmed  and are available from the American Theological Library Association Board of Microtext.

7. In 1894 Camillus Macs, the bishop of Covington, wrote Rudd asking that his name be removed. "By what authority do you print the headline `Approved by... the Rt. Rev. Bishop of Covington?' You know I never did so personally and you have every reason to know that I do not approve it (Maes to editor of ACT, July 17, 1894, Diocese of Covington Archives).

8. Sec "Apology Accepted," ACT, June 10, 1887. "American Catholic Tribune has a Correspondent in Rome, a Colored man at that in the person of Colonel Read, formerly of Pittsburgh, and a former associate, who is now in the College of the Propaganda."

9. Ibid., September 19, 1891.

10.  Ibid., March 4, 1887,

11. Ibid., January 10, 1891, "The Negro."

12. Ibid., January 3, 1891.

13. Ibid., April 18, 1891.

14. For the issues giving the text of Rerum Novarum, sec ACT, June 10, June 27, July 13, July 25, August 1, and August 8, 1891. For the editorial on the encyclical, sec the issue of August 1.

15.  Ibid., August 1, 1891.

16.  Ibid., July 9, 1892, "Lynch Law."

17. Ibid., sec editorials for February 18, 1887; May 2 and October 17, 1891.

18. Ibid., sec May 8, May 16, May 23, and June 13, 1891.

19.  Ibid., March 11, 1887.

20.  Ibid., November 7, 1891.

21. Ibid., April 4, 1891, editorial. It is not clear what standing Rudd had among black newspapers of the time. Mention was   frequently made of him in the African American press as lecturer and promoter of the black Catholic congresses. According to his own account, he was elected to certain positions in the Negro Press Association. On the other band, Rudd is almost never mentioned in any history of the nineteenth-century black press. Little mention, it seems, was made of him in the rather large and extensive black religious press of the period.

22. Ibid., May 8, 1891.

23. Ibid., June 3, 1887.

24. Ibid., Fort Wayne, sec April 1, 1887. For Lewiston, Maine, sec "Msgr. J. M. Lucey Scrapbook," Diocese of Little Rock Archives, in which is affixed an unidentified Lewiston, Maine, newspaper clipping for May 9, 1896. For Natchez, see A. J. Peters to John R. Slattery, 9-D-15, August 19, 1891, Josephite Archives. For Rudd's lectures in German see the Journal, August 20, 1892. This publication was a black Catholic weekly newspaper of Philadelphia, published from February to September 1892. AU extant issues are to be found in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Archives and Historical Collections.

25. Thomas McMillan, "Knowledge of Public Questions," Catholic World 47 (1888): 711-13.

26. Charles Martial Allemand-Lavigerie was born in Bayonne, France, in 1825, was ordained in 1849, became bishop of Nancy  in 1863, then archbishop of Algiers in 1867 and of Carthage in 1884, having been created a cardinal in 1882. He was the founder of the White Fathers and White Sisters, now known as the Society of Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, in 1868 and 1869 respectively. Founded originally for missionary work in North Africa, both societies began to work in black Africa in 1878. Lavigerie represented the more liberal wing of the French church. He supported Pope Leo XIII and was used by the latter to shift Catholic allegiance in France away from a narrow Royalist focus. He also was supported by the pope in his own ardent fight against the slave trade. Lavigerie died in Algiers on November 26, 1892. Sec New Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Lavigerie, Charles Martial Allemand."

27. ACT, July 6, 1889. This article by Street had been copied from the Philadelphia Sentinel. Robert Leo Ruffin (1857?-1934) was a prominent member of the black Catholic community of Boston. He was, it seems, related to George L. Ruffin, the first black judge in New England. John Boylc O'Reilly (1844-90) was the Irish-born editor of the Pilot and a well-known speaker on public issues. He was an outspoken advocate of the rights of African Americans, taking a position that was not always popular in the Irish community. Sec "John Boyle O'Reilly's Speech in Behalf of the Negro, December 7, 1855, and His Editorial on the Excommunication of Dr McGlynn. July 16, 1887," in Documents of American Catholic History 2: 432-   37.

28. Sec Robert Ruffin, "Charles Martial Allemand-Lavigerie," . 41If.E. Church Review 4 (1892): 320-35.

29. ACT, July 13, 1889.

30. Ibid.

31. Sec for example, ibid., August 17, 1889.

32. Rudd to Elder, London, August 12, 1898, Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives.

33. The address was 37 Mullett Street from 1894 to 1895, and 469 Monroe Avenue in 1897.