Liberation Theology Along the Potomac: Labor's Golden Rule in Early American Catholicism

This is a revision of Toby Terrars PhD dissertation at UCLA. For the past century working-class movements around the world have taken a dim view of our government along the Potomac. However, there was a time when working people dominated the Potomac. This book is about their rule and about its relevance to the 21st century. It is about the liberation theology of the 17th-century Catholic working class in their personal lives, their families and in their Basic Christian Communities along the Potomac River.

The Catholics' theology, like that of their counterparts in Europe, celebrated labor and laboring people. For them the original grace in the Garden of Eden was labor. The original sin was the class system. The Potomac was an Eden of labor. The golden rule established there centered on a full-employment and a subsistence economy in which all were workers. Capital had no voice.

The book includes chapters on the Catholics' labor theory of value and its revolutionary corollary, antinomianism, as developed by figures such as Thomas White, Henry Holden, Thomas Hawkins and Edward Bolton. Rejected by the Catholic antinomians were doctrines such as Aquinas's commutatitive (individual) justice and just price, Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuit's theology of obedience, suffering and death, and Augustine's sanctification of imperialism. The class struggle waged by the Catholics to control their labor and its fruits in Maryland is traced both in the church and also in local, national, and international affairs. Throught assembly legislation such as praemunire and mortmain, the church was safeguarded from the episcopacy and Rome. During the period of the English Civil War the militia of the Maryland working people also won military victories and defended their golden rule against the capitalist forces of the crown and parliament. Local and foreign magnates, including Cecil Calvert, were levelled.

This account combines theology with history, politics, economics, philosophy and ethics. It covers not only Europe and European North America, but 17th-century Asia, Africa, Latin America and native America. It includes the roots of liberation theory in the Bible, the ancient revolutionaries of Rome and Greece and the medieval agrarian reformers and slave abolitionists. It teaches a lesson that will help in continuing labor's golden rule in the 21st century.