FDR Among the Catholics (How FDR Turned Catholics into Democrats)

Once, when asked his philosophy, Franklin Roosevelt answered simply, “I am a Christian and a Democrat.” As always with Roosevelt, there was more to it than that. He was not just a Christian, but a Protestant, an Episcopalian, a descendant of Huguenot and Yankee New Englanders on his mother’s side. And he was not just a Democrat, but a New York Democrat, whose leaders and most faithful voters were overwhelmingly Catholic, especially Irish Catholic. There was a tension, always, between this Protestant patrician and his Catholic party, a tension that this congenial country squire and shrewd politician sought to resolve, with much success, but never with finality. There remained a tension between the Democratic party he created in his own image and the Catholics who were such a large part of its constituency, until the tie between them snapped some time in the late 1960s.