John Lancaster Spalding

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John Lancaster Spalding
Bishop of Peoria
John Lancaster Spalding.png
Church Roman Catholic
See Diocese of Peoria
In office May 23, 1877 – September 11, 1908 (retired)
Successor Edmund Michael Dunne
Ordination December 19, 1863
Personal details
Born June 2, 1840
Lebanon, Kentucky, USA
Died August 25, 1916
Peoria, Illinois, USA

John Lancaster Spalding (June 2, 1840 – August 25, 1916) was an American author, poet, advocate for higher education, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria from 1877 to 1908[1] and a co-founder of The Catholic University of America.

Peoria's Catholic high school for boys, Spalding Institute, was named for him; the school was closed in 1989 during the Peoria Notre Dame High School merger. Spalding Hall at The Catholic University of America was also named for him.

Early years[edit]

He was born on June 2, 1840 in Lebanon, Kentucky and ordained a priest at age 23, on December 19, 1863, in the Diocese of Louisville.[2] His uncle, Martin John Spalding, later became Bishop of Louisville then Archbishop of Baltimore, but did not live to see John himself become bishop.[3]


On November 11, 1876, Pope Pius IX appointed Spalding as the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, newly created out of part of the then-Diocese of Chicago. He was installed as the first Bishop of Peoria on May 23, 1877[4] by Cardinal John McCloskey, Archbishop of New York,[2] with Thomas Patrick Roger Foley, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago presiding.[4]

As bishop, Spalding greatly valued education. He was instrumental in the founding of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.,[5] as well as several Catholic schools in Peoria.[6] He also oversaw the construction of St. Mary's Cemetery just outside Peoria (now in West Peoria, Illinois).[4]

Bishop Spalding achieved national prominence for helping President Theodore Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan to end the Great Coal Strike of 1902 as a member of the Arbitration Commission that awarded the miners a retroactive 10% wage increase and reduced daily work hours from 10 to 9.[7]

Spalding wrote several books, including a biography of his uncle Archbishop Martin John Spalding, and poetry under the pseudonym Henry Hamilton.[4]

Spalding became paralyzed from a stroke in 1905 and, as a result,[4] retired on September 11, 1908 at the age of 68 and was appointed Titular Bishop of Scythopolis, by Pope Pius X.[2] He died on August 25, 1916, aged 76.[2]


Historical marker commemorating Spalding in his hometown
  • Essays and Reviews[4]
  • Lectures and Discourses[4]
  • Education and the Higher Life[4]
  • The Poet's Praise (as Henry Hamilton)[4]
  • Opportunity and Other Essays (as Henry Hamilton)[4]
  • Aphorisms and Reflections[4]
P literature.svg This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


  1. ^ John Lancaster Spalding, Historic Peoria
  2. ^ a b c d "Bishop John Lancaster Spalding †". Catholic-Hierarchy. 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2008-01-12. [self-published source]
  3. ^ "Archbishop Martin John Spalding †". Catholic-Hierarchy. 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2008-01-12. [self-published source]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Aspell, Albina. "Bishop John Lancaster Spalding". The Catholic Post. Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ PD-icon.svg "Peoria". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  7. ^ Doris K. Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit (Simon & Schuster, 2013) p. 318

Further reading[edit]

  • Curti, Merle. The Social Ideas of American Educators (1935) pp 348–73
  • Sweeney, David Francis. The Life of John Lancaster Spalding: First Bishop of Peoria, 1840-1916 (Vol. 1. Herder and Herder, 1966)

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Peoria
1877 – 1908
Succeeded by
Edmund Michael Dunne
Preceded by
Joseph-Marie Raya
Titular Bishop of Scythopolis
1908 – 1916
Succeeded by
Antonio Tani