Thomas F. Mulledy

Thomas F. Mulledy
Bust-length portrait of Thomas Mulledy
Portrait of Thomas Mulledy
15th & 19th President of Georgetown College
In office
Preceded bySamuel Mulledy
Succeeded byJames A. Ryder
In office
Preceded byJohn W. Beschter
Succeeded byWilliam McSherry
1st President of the College of the Holy Cross
In office
Succeeded byJames A. Ryder
Personal details
Born(1794-08-12)August 12, 1794
Romney, Virginia, U.S.[a]
DiedJuly 20, 1860(1860-07-20) (aged 65)
Georgetown, District of Columbia, U.S.[b]
Resting placeJesuit Community Cemetery
Alma mater
SignatureSignature of Thomas F. Mulledy on the articles of agreement for the 1838 slave sale

Thomas F. Mulledy (i/;[2] August 12, 1794 – July 20, 1860) was an American Catholic priest from Virginia who became President of Georgetown College, a founder of the College of the Holy Cross, and a prominent 19th-century leader of the Jesuits in the United States. His brother, Samuel Mulledy, also became a Jesuit and president of Georgetown.

Mulledy entered the Society of Jesus and was educated for the priesthood in Rome, before completing his education in the United States. He twice served as President of Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. At Georgetown, Mulledy undertook a significant building campaign, which resulted in Gervase Hall and Mulledy Hall (later renamed Isaac Hawkins Hall). He became the second provincial superior of the Maryland Province of the Jesuit order, and orchestrated the sale of the province's slaves in 1838 to settle its debts. This resulted in outcry from his fellow Jesuits and censure by the church authorities in Rome, who exiled him to Nice in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia for several years. While provincial superior, Mulledy was also the vicar general for the Diocese of Boston.

Following his return to the United States, Mulledy was appointed as the first President of the College of the Holy Cross in 1843 and oversaw its establishment, including the construction of its first building. Both in the United States and in Rome, he developed a reputation as combative and insubordinate, much to the discontent of his fellow Jesuits and his superiors. Others praised him for his administrative skills. In his later years, he was prolific in delivering sermons at Holy Cross, and played a role in seeing the college through investigations by the Know Nothing Party. He also served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church and president of St. John's Literary Institution in Frederick, Maryland, where he expelled a significant portion of the student body for protesting the strict discipline he imposed, leading to the school's permanent decline. He then was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, and briefly as the superior at Saint Joseph's College in Philadelphia.

In 2015, a series of student protests at Georgetown over his orchestration of the 1838 slave sale led to the renaming of Mulledy Hall. Meanwhile, Mulledy Hall at Holy Cross retained his name in the form of Brooks–Mulledy Hall, adding the surname of a subsequent president who pursued integration on campus.

Early life and education

Black and white portrait of Thomas Mulledy
Portrait of Mulledy

Thomas Mulledy[c] was born on August 12, 1794, in Romney, Virginia (today part of West Virginia),[a] to Irish immigrant parents.[8][9] His father, also named Thomas Mulledy,[10] was a poor farmer.[11] His mother, Sarah Cochrane, from Virginia, was not Catholic. So the two could marry, they obtained a canonical dispensation, and agreed that their sons would be raised Catholic, while their daughters would be raised Protestant.[12] Before receiving any higher education, Thomas Mulledy and his brother, Samuel, taught at the Romney Academy in their hometown.[13][14] Like his brother, Samuel went on to become a Jesuit and the president of Georgetown College.[15] Thomas later enrolled as a student at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 1813,[16] having to pay for his own education, as his brother did.[11] He left the school in February 1815 to travel with nine others to White Marsh, Maryland, where they entered the Society of Jesus. He returned to teach at Georgetown in 1817. While there, he contracted a disease that was unknown to the physicians of the time, and he feared death was imminent. In his debilitated state, he received the viaticum, and was thereafter restored to health, a turn of events that some considered miraculous.[16] He was in 1818 appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to the board of trustees for the town of Romney.[17]

In 1820, he was sent to study philosophy in Rome; on the voyage, he was accompanied by Charles Constantine Pise,[18] James Ryder, and George Fenwick.[19] There, he studied at the Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide for two years, and spent a further two as a tutor to the crown prince of Naples.[3] Alongside his priestly studies, he was exposed to literature and science,[20] and became regarded as among the most eminent American scholars of Italian language and literature.[3] Mulledy was ordained a priest in Rome in 1825,[9] and then began his tertianship in Chieri, near Turin. By 1828, he was teaching logic, metaphysics, and ethics at a Jesuit college in Chambéry.[21] He left Italy later that year.[20] It was not until December 1827 that the Society raised enough money to pay for his and other Jesuit students' return to the United States, and that the Jesuit Superior General was satisfied that the Society had regained a footing in the United States after its suppression.[11] He left from the port of Livorno on a treacherous voyage that lasted 171 days, and caused some in the United States to fear that the three Jesuits aboard had perished. Eventually, he arrived at Georgetown on December 22, 1828,[22] where he was made the prefect of studies,[23] as well as professor of philosophy.[24] Mulledy provided the most comprehensive account of the mysterious events at Wizard Clip at the time.[25]

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