Beginning in the 1820s, large scale immigration from Ireland and other countries began to reshape and redefine the American Catholic Church. Enlightenment was on the wane; the Republican era was at its end; the parish mission and evangelical Catholicism were in ascent. (Dolan, p44, 2002)
World events were a driving factor in immigration; the Industrial Revolution displaced a large segment of the population, and the Potato famine drew millions of Catholic Irish Immigrants to the U.S. - swelling the Catholic population of many larger cities, especially New York and Philadelphia.
The biggest issues for Catholics of the time period leading up to the U.S. Civil War were slavery and the supreme authority of the Catholic church over the laity.
The Transcendental Movement and Realism were in ascendancy in Social and Literary circles. Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience in 1849, and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1851 as a serialized book. Other books written during this time period by lesser known authors include:
After the Civil War, the focus turned towards the temperance movement, the rights of women, and anti-immigrant feelings.
Notable Catholics of the American Civil War.
Thomas Francis Meagher
Father Mathew's Disciples: American Catholic Support for Temperance, 1840-1920.
Growth of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States (1933 Thesis, ebook available through Google Scholar)