Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2020


John Leamy (1757–1839) accumulated a substantial fortune through trade with the Spanish Empire following the American Revolution. This immigrant from Ireland, via southern Spain, was the key player in establishing Philadelphia's dominant role in Cuban markets during the 1790s. Unlike his Protestant competitors, as a high-profile Catholic, Leamy nurtured successful personal and commercial relationships with those Spanish imperial bureaucrats charged with regulating the trade. In the new century, as the Spanish Empire destabilized, Leamy adjusted both his business strategies and religious practices. With his Catholic loyalties in flux, he led the lay trustees of St. Mary's during the Hogan Schism and moved towards Episcopalianism. John Leamy's actions throw into relief how republicanism emboldened challenges to ecclesiastical authority and encouraged denominational flexibility, even as he maneuvered to rekindle his ties with Spain in the 1820s and 1830s.




The Catholic University of America Press

Publication Information

U.S. Catholic Historian

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