Features

Patrick Walsh and the Pacificator

Originally Appeared in : 9914-7/4/19
A man of many talents, Patrick Walsh, a resident of Augusta who had emigrated with his parents from Ireland in the 1850s, was to fill many roles in his adopted country.  Walsh was an editor, a newspaper publisher and an active Catholic layman, to name only a few of his passions and interests. Perhaps Walsh’s most unique achievement was his founding of the Pacificator, the first Catholic newspaper (and only Confederate Catholic publication) during the Civil War.
 
Although the Pacificator was destined to be published only briefly, from 1864-1865, present-day editors of Catholic publications should be inspired by this noteworthy “ancestor” of theirs. Unfortunately, after the Pacificator printed its last copy in 1865, it would prove to be Georgia’s last Catholic newspaper until the Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association of Georgia (CLA) began publishing in 1920.
 
Encouraged by Benjamin J. Keiley, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah  (1900 – 1922), Georgia’s CLA launched a newspaper that would stay in business for a long time, its roots spreading even to the present day when the Bulletin of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Southern Cross of the Diocese of Savannah continue to keep Georgia Catholics well informed through their publications. A certain amount of credit for such continuous coverage should actually go to Patrick Walsh, a man capable of taking leadership in Catholic ventures in many forms.
 
Journalist, businessman, politician: The list of Walsh’s interests is, to say the least, truly impressive. After immigrating to Charleston from Ireland with his parents in 1852, Walsh entered the printing business early. An ambitious young man, Walsh attended night school in order to qualify for entrance to Washington’s Georgetown College. Not long afterward, in 1862, he returned to South Carolina to join the Charleston Militia.  When his service time ended, the ever-active Walsh managed to become an editor of the Constitution there, as well as of publications such as the Pacificator, The Banner of the South, the Chronicle and the Sentinel, all publications Walsh would afterwards own.
 
As if he needed to look for more projects to keep him busy, Walsh ventured into fields other than publishing and editing. Acting for years as an agent of the New York Associated Press, Walsh also qualified and served as a delegate-at-large to the Democratic Convention of 1884. Offices Walsh held during his long and active political career ultimately included serving as a United States Senator and being elected mayor of Augusta.
 
Patrick Walsh’s dedicated and always busy life ended with his death on March 19, 1899.  Buried in Augusta, he still isn’t forgotten. According to sources on the internet, a statue of Patrick Walsh that is described as a “portrait sculpture of Patrick Walsh, mayor of Augusta,” was installed at that city’s Old Union Station. Wrought by George Thomas Brewer, this sculpture was dedicated in 1913 and rests today in front of what is now the  city’s central Post Office. The sculpture, it has been noted, was installed “under the direction of the Walsh Memorial Association for the people of Augusta, Georgia.”
 
In Patrick Walsh’s memory, Knights of Columbus Council 677 and Assembly 174 have both chosen Patrick Walsh as their namesake. It appears that, in Walsh’s case, a good man who tried hard throughout his life to serve others and to practice his faith has not been forgotten.
 
Columnist Rita H. Delorme Is A volunteer in the Diocesan Archives.
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